By the time the 1960s and '70s hit, some of the selfsame modernists had rendered themselves so avant garde that they actually became harbingers of the pomo era to come. One of the great pomo ironies is that these masters of modernism sowed the seeds of their own “destruction” (or more precisely, deconstruction), by way of their own modernist prescience. Thus, Warhol’s famous saying that “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” was not only amazingly accurate, but would further reinforce the anti-elitist, tongue in cheek concept of “high” modern art which both gained Warhol untold fortune and fame and paved the way for the pomo age to come.
But what is pomo anyway? To me, the recipe for pomo has a few essential historical/cultural ingredients:
Immersion in the ways and means of modernism - even if one was born after it
Unless one is Amish or perhaps a “fundamentalist” anything, exposure to television, movies, and other mass/popular media makes it well-nigh inevitable that one will have seen a film such as Casablanca or A Streetcar Named Desire; perhaps read the poetry of T.S. Eliot or Yeats or works by (or at least a review or cliff notes or wiki article about) F. Scott Fitzgerald or Virginia Woolf; viewed an old episode or I Love Lucy or Leave it to Beaver on Nick at Nite or TV Land, or heard a cover song by the Beatles or a composition by Gershwin (even if by way of a soundtrack snippet in a car commercial). The millions of bits and pieces, flotsam and jetsam, and other ephemera of the modern era gone by are already hard wired into our collective unconscious in an unavoidable way.
Making the old “new” again
If one indulges, even for argument’s sake, my assertion that modernism is dead, how then can one be original in the pomo era? Simply put, by taking elements from the treasure trove of the modern age gone by, rearranging them, digesting them, and “regurgitating” them into something that is as “original” in form as it is “derivative” in ingredients. There are only so many foodstuffs available to the contemporary chef, but s/he can concoct countless “new” culinary delights from the same selfsame ingredients which the classic French or Italian chef had at their disposal. Thus, the pomo chef can asssemble a new creation by paying due homage to his or her predecessors, but with the benefit of technologies that make it easier to refine and recreate the classic regional cuisines with a pomo presentational twist.