Nin Andrews

The Definition of Postmodernism & If
October 21, 2019 Andrews Nin

The Definition of Postmodernism



I was in David Lehman’s Modern Poetry class when I first heard the term “postmodernism.” I remember scribbling in my notes, “The postmodern orgasm is an orgasm having an orgasm having an orgasm.” I have no clue what else Dr. Lehman said, or if he even said that, or if I simply wrote that down as one of the many thoughts rushing through my mind. I imagined it then, the postmodern orgasm, as something I should take into consideration and might write about some day.


Only recently did I bother looking up the term. But as so often happens with all things related to orgasms, the definition varied according to the source.


Wikipedia defined it as an orgasm of questionable identity or origin.”


Webster’s defined it as “the orgasm after the orgasm after the orgasm. Also, an ape aping an ape aping an ape aping.”


Larousse called it l’orgasmse post-marché, or the aftermarket orgasm. Though in Paris, I am told, it is called simply le post-masqué, meaning the orgasm without its mask.


The Urban Dictionary defined it as “the orgasm Barbie never had. Or Tinker Belle. Or Little Miss Muffet, despite the presence of her tuffet.”


Cassandra called it “the foreseeable future.” Or was that Chicken Little?


On Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Red Riding Hood described it as “the pleasure of annihilation.”


Deepak Chopra said it is “a natural event of the post-Newtonian universe in which the apple no longer falls from the tree.”


Alice Waters, the gourmand, compared it to a winter strawberry. Or “an orgasm recollected in tranquility. Where is the scent of sex?” she asks.


Louise Glück hates both sex and the scent of sex. “How can I be content,” she asked, “when there is still that odor in the world?”


Fox News disliked the very idea and blamed the left-wing media.


Anne-Marie Slaughter, the New American feminist, defined it as a part of the all that women can’t have.


Zeno worried. To be or almost to be? That is the question of the postmodern orgasm.


Zeno’s detractors argued that that’s like the sky asking if it should be blue.


How blue? Which blue? Which hue? the sky wondered, as it grew as white as a sheet of unlined paper and blew away in a gust of wind.





If I see you again in the window, if I reach out and caress the red flame of your hair, everything that exists will vanish, little by little.


The sky will have no birds; the trees, no roots; the sea, no islands; time, no hours, no minutes, no seconds; the clock, no arms—only the blank face of a long-forgotten god gazing down at us.


There will be no winter, no spring, no summer—only a day like today with leaves drifting like windblown boats across a metallic sky


as the autumn rain extinguishes the fire in you, in me, and washes the implacable sadness from our lips.

Nin Andrews’ poems have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies including Ploughshares, Agni, The Paris Review, and four editions of Best American Poetry. The author of seven chapbooks and seven full-length poetry collections, she has won two Ohio individual artist grants, the Pearl Chapbook Contest, the Kent State University chapbook contest, the Gerald Cable Poetry Award, and the Ohioana 2016 Award for poetry. She is also the editor of a book of translations of the Belgian poet, Henri Michaux, called Someone Wants to Steal My Name. Her book, The Last Orgasm, was published by Etruscan Press in 2020.