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Turner's                   Metamodern 

       Postmodernism is where you irrationally hold conflicting ideas in your mind at the same time, where a thing can be simultaneously true and untrue. It challenges but offers no answer. Like a Shakespearian fool, it points out paradox while embodying it. Peter MacCallum's book The Death of Truth (Baker Publishing, 1996) explains this process in detail as it relates to everything from science to the arts. But whilst postmodernism provides academic activists with enough material to "wax lyrically," its purpose, in reality, is that of a methodology with which to not only undermine and devalue empirical knowledge, morality, reason, ethics and truth but to destroy Western Civilization and through its institutions transform it, inside out, into a totalitarian police state - a transformation that is occurring today before our very eyes.


Postmodernism leaves its practitioners without an ethic. Action in the world (even perception) is impossible without an ethic, so one has to be at least allowed in through the back door. The fact that such allowance produces a logical contradiction appears to bother the low-rent postmodernists who dominate the social sciences and humanities not at all. Then again, coherence isn’t one of their strong points (and the demand for such coherence can just be read as another patriarchal imposition typifying oppressive Western thought). So: postmodernism, by its nature (at least with regard to scepticism) cannot ally itself with Marxism. But it does, practically. The dominance of postmodern Marxist rhetoric in the academy (which is a matter of fact, as laid out by the Heterodox Academy, among other sources) attests to that. The fact that such an alliance is illogical cannot be laid at my feet, just because I point out that the alliance exists. I agree that it’s illogical. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It’s a very crooked game, and those who play it are neck-deep in deceit (


Peterson's words are easily verified by examining one of the foundations of the postmodernist movement called "deconstructionism": a form of social, philosophical and literary analysis devised by Jacques Derrida in his book De la Grammatologie, 1967, (Of Grammatology) deconstruction meaning "the free play of meaning," which involves a direct assault on the nature of truth. In other words, if you find it necessary to lie for the cause, lie. We can now better understand what Peterson meant when he said "It's a very crooked game and those who play it are neck-deep in deceit."


Intellectually, postmodern Leftism today is no more than a game - a deadly game - which is as far from an ethical and unified philosophy or system as you can get and all for the sake of corruption and power. But then what? With the demise of Classical Marxism, Utopia is no longer dangled before the eyes of the masses, as the-carrot-on-a-stick; and with God and the Principles of the Enlightenment dead and buried, the only possible future would be one of continual warfare and oppression for more power.


But not all Marxists and fellow travellers were entirely happy when metamodernist writer Luke Turner described Postmodernism in his Metamodernist Manifesto (2011) as the "antonymous bastard child" of modernism, with its focus on deconstruction and destruction. It was clear to metamodernists that the Left needed some sort of intellectual purpose and stimuli. In other words, with Utopia gone, an understanding that reality was perhaps more than just a merry-go-round based on power relations, lies and trickery. And so, Metamodernism was born, to quote one of its principle founders Timotheus Vermeulen:

As part of a long-term interdisciplinary transnational research project documenting developments in a twenty-first-century culture that could no longer be explained in terms of the postmodern, but needed to be conceived of by another critical discourse – metamodernism. ( 2009).


A foundational essay, which, for the metamodernist movement is almost the equivalent of Chairman Mao's Little Red Book was entitled Notes on Metamodernism, founded in May 2009 by co-meta-modernists Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker and edited with Nadine Fessler, Hila Shachar, Luke Turner and Alison Gibbons. The essay is published in full in the Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 2, 2010, and is available online (


Co-editor Luke Turner's eight-point Metamodernist Manifesto, the subject of this critique, to quote Turner, was the first attempt by a metamodernist


to synthesize the main ideas by using the term metamodernism employed by Vermeulen and van den Akker in Notes on Metamodernism"(


This is what makes Turner's Manifesto so interesting, and important because, for the first time in the short history of this movement, an attempt has been made to set down its major beliefs and objectives, which are, quite frankly, ridiculous.


As any reading of Notes on Metamodernism will illustrate, it would be an impossible task to attempt a strict philosophical or political critique of Turner's Manifesto because of the way it is written and the way the information is compiled in Notes on Metamodernism upon which it is based, because of the aesthetic and somewhat arty-farty nature of the material. So, I decided to tackle Turner's Manifesto head-on by taking him and his comrades to task regarding metamodernism's assumptions about time, space, science, the arts and politics from a purely rational, reasonable and empirical point of view.

What then, in a little more detail, is metamodernism? I would say it is a terminal set of leftist ideas (and ideals) swathed in ambiguity and dressed, at best, as a kind of scatty, touchy-feely cultural analysis, that refers to trends within the culture at large, including the visual arts, theatre, architecture, literature, music, film, science, politics and so forth. In this context, it is the movement that comes after and supposedly redeems the cynicism and irony of postmodernism. Metamodernism is a disillusioned and occasionally guilt-ridden reaction to modernism and postmodernism, that does not challenge the philosophical and other premises, ideas, and ideologies that underlie these modernisms, but where it seeks mediation in the form of relationships and intercessions with both, believing this will somehow lead to an increase in knowledge.


Up until recently, material relating to metamodernism has been reticent about defining what exactly it is, apart from a feelings-based phenomenon in the predominantly affluent bourgeois arts and literary communities. This is, as far as I know, the first attempt by a metamodernist to write a Manifesto, in other words, a public declaration, a step forward into the arena of serious social, political and philosophical discourse. It is also a step that is fraught with danger because now meta-modernists will have to defend their positions and no longer be able to retreat into aesthetic generalizations, romantic delusions, left-wing safe spaces and vagaries. Imagine my disappointment after reading Turner's Manifesto and discovering it was nothing more than a further reiteration of the above.


As I will illustrate, Metamodernism is not an upward or liberating movement but a kind of linguistic entrapment spawned from disillusion with the irrationality of postmodernism but still not able to let it go! - a movement held captive by what it finds problematic but lacks the will to challenge, break free of and liberate itself.


The odd thing about Turner's Manifesto is that it does not attempt, in any objective, meaningful way, to elaborate on any of its eight points. In the tradition of postmodern deconstructionism, Turner leaves them open to the reader to find his or her own meaning and interpretation, in a world where meaning itself has become highly subjective. As the deconstructionist philosopher Jaques Derrida points out: " there is nothing outside the text that corresponds to objective reality." Derrida was well-known for his rejection of traditional modes of thinking and order. Instead, he advocated for subjectivity over objectivity. "My truth is not your truth," "biological men can give birth," and "gender is a social construct." In terms of objectivity and science, all are false statements, and in each, we will find a bit of Derrida, and if we pursue them down their own particular rabbit holes, having rejected objective reality, we can only end up in a place of dissolution and darkness.

So, to reiterate,  when addressing Turner's Manifesto, I will do so strictly from a rational, objective point of view. Which may seem a little unfashionable to some. But when has fashion had anything to do with the truth?

1/ ::: We recognize oscillation to be the natural order of the world


What does oscillation mean but to move back and forth in a regular rhythm, in other words, to return to the place you started, which metamodernists believe is indicative of the natural order, or law of the world? Perhaps that is the natural order as it relates to their ideas, but the real world is a world marked by indifference. Only in the diminutive human realm is their natural order or law i.e. a moral source from which natural law seeks to derive its authority. Outside the human realm of these discoveries, there is no Ipso facto, natural order, because law and morality do not exist there. A tiger, for example, is not moral or ethical when it pounces on its prey; when a volcano explodes it is not concerned with the village below.


It was the 18th-century Enlightenment period, le Siècle des Lumières (the period of lights) or, The Age of Reason, that derived the source of natural law, from Judeo-Christian Principles, the premises upon which the Enlightenment was based, and the principles activated within the social, moral and ethical fabric of humanity and the world around, which, at the time, was a new development, that in turn gave birth and expression to a range of ideas centred on human reason and scientific empiricism (evidence-based knowledge), as sources of authority and legitimacy from which natural order and natural law are created, which were considered manifestations of God's Will - of freedom manifest. Although these ideas were basically what motivated the Enlightenment, the French Philosophes tended more towards atheism and science, but nevertheless, accorded the same values to truth, objectivity and scientific thought.


How trite and insignificant meta-modernists like Turner sound in the light of such historical developments that have contributed to the greatest flowering of freedom, creativity and invention in human history, which postmodernists looked upon with resentment, as if the Enlightenment was more a curse than a blessing. And what do they have to offer? What great achievements have Marxists and other totalitarians bequeathed to the human species but genocide, starvation, the loss of freedom, and contemporary doctrines that sanction pseudo-science, lies, deceit, and the subjugation of people to those who seek power over them for the sake of power? Metamodernists, seem quite aware of their "bastard child" postmodernism but don't quite know how to respond or in which direction to go. And so have decided to "oscillate" between modernism and postmodernism. How futile. One is reminded of a prisoner walking back and forth in a cage banging his head against the bars.


2/ ::: We must liberate ourselves from the inertia resulting from a century of modernist ideological naivety and the cynical insincerity of its antonymous bastard child


There was no formal modernist movement in philosophy, but only within the arts and the literati, which greatly influenced philosophical thought, and arose out of the rebellious mood at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Modernism was a radical, primarily left-wing approach that yearned to revitalize the way modern civilization viewed life, art, politics, and science. This rebellious attitude that flourished between 1900 and 1930 had, as its basis, the rejection of European Culture for having become too corrupt, complacent, and lethargic, ailing because it was bound by the artificiality of a society that was preoccupied with image and afraid of change. This dissatisfaction with the moral bankruptcy of everything European led modern thinkers and artists to explore other alternatives, especially primitive cultures. I don't see any lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment in the modernist movement, or any overt naivety, although, during its later stages, it was prone to a few excesses. An important factor to remember here is that the modernists were searching for ways to revitalize Western Civilization.


However, Turner's "bastard child", postmodernism was different in terms of its objectives and intent. Vindictive, malevolent, and poisoned by resentment, postmodernism was not interested in revitalizing the West but in destroying it. The reaction against modernism with the rise of the postmodernists would not have been possible without giving Marxism pride of place in the arts, literature, philosophy, and social science. After the failure of the Fourth Communist Internationale, following the demise of the Soviet Union, Marxist intellectuals had become disheartened by the murderous nature of this regime. But their belief in Marxism still lit up their black hearts, and they soon convinced themselves that the Soviet Union wasn't real socialism anyway, attributing its failure to corrupt leaders and/or their misinterpretation of the holy Marxist writ, of which most believed the mass murderer Leon Trotsky was the true prophet and messiah.


They also realized Marx's proletarian dictatorship would probably never succeed through brute force and mass murder, which Marx wrote were prerequisites to Utopia (most of the West's proletariat actually prospered after WW2), so they decided to employ another method of imposing Marxist ideas and concepts from within the institutions of the West, a kind of intellectually nourished malignancy called postmodernism they hoped would eventually metastasize through the whole body and destroy it.


.Scientific (empirical) truth and human reason, which were the guiding lights of the Enlightenment, for the postmodernists were no longer important and given equal status to lies, the proviso being to use any means necessary if it brought them closer to attaining power and the West closer to total destruction. Sartre was right when he said postmodern philosophy had its beginnings in "the inescapable horizon of Marxism."


It is hard to see why Turner and the meta-modernists consider postmodernism insincere. It was very sincere about its mission. Turner mentions postmodernism's use of antonymous ideas and philosophies which he doesn't oppose but rather incorporates into the metamodernist methodology or whatever you want to call it.


The third declaration of the Manifesto seems, among other things, a pompous acceptance and assertion of the postmodern use of antonymous ideas:


3/ ::: The movement shall henceforth be enabled by way of an oscillation, between positions with diametrically opposed ideas operating like the pulsating polarities of a colossal electric machine propelling the world into action


I'll examine Declaration 4 in two parts, and show how it illustrates the imprisoned metamodernist mind and movement. The language itself seems trapped.


4/1 ::: We acknowledge the limitations inherent to all movement and experience the futility of any attempt to transcend the boundaries set forth therein


Not very inspiring, but in tune with a metamodernist caged mentality. Let's look at some of these phrases e.g. "the limitations inherent to all movement". What he is saying here is that movement itself is limited. This may, in some cases, be relatively true, (what goes up must come down - Isaac Newton) but in terms of movement itself, is patently false. Simplistically speaking, a horse was once considered the fastest expression of movement. Then came cars, aeroplanes, spaceships, and the possibility of human beings travelling at the speed of light. If we acknowledge the latest findings in the study of physics, even faster speeds may be possible. It appears that Einstein's relativity theory relating to the speed of light travelling 300,000 kilometres a second may be wrong, according to a well-documented article that appeared in the 21st Century Tech Blog entitled Exceeding the Speed of Light Possible in a Quantum Experiment (March 13, 2018).


Since 2000 we have known that light itself doesn’t maintain a constant speed in a vacuum. Experiments back then, at Princeton’s NEC Laboratory, used lasers to produce faster-than-light-speed pulses by passing a beam through a specially constructed chamber containing cesium gas. A 3-microsecond pulse of light which normally would take 0.2 nanoseconds to make it from one end of the chamber to the other, emerged 62 nanoseconds earlier than if it had passed through a vacuum. The phenomenon observed was called anomalous dispersion and attributed to the effect of the cesium gas within the chamber. And what it showed is that light can move faster than the supposed speed limit of approximately 300,000 kilometres (186,000 miles) per second.


At the time of the release of the Princeton Lab findings, the head researcher for the experiment, Dr Liujun Wang, stated that “Our experiment shows that the generally held misconception that nothing can move faster than the speed of light, is wrong. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity still stands, however, because it is still correct to say that information cannot be transmitted faster than the vacuum speed of light.” But hold on! Enter quantum physics. In experimental results published on February 8, 2018, in the Journal of Physical Review Letters, in an article entitled, “Two-Way Communication with a Single Quantum Particle,” two quantum physicists, Jinyang Liang and Lihong V. Wang, from the University of Vienna, demonstrate that quantum systems can surpass the speed limit of light (


The human experience as defined by Enlightenment philosophers and our greatest scientific minds, is not separate from movement but intrinsic to it (and vis-a-vis) and has defined and unravelled its possibilities through scientific investigation, a fundamental principle of the Enlightenment rejected by postmodernists, as merely an expression of Western cultural imperialism, which is as far from the truth as the earth is from the Delta Quadrant!


4/2 ::: The essential incompleteness of a system should necessitate an adherence, not in order to achieve a given end or be slaves to its course, but rather perchance to glimpse by proxy some hidden exteriority. Existence is enriched if we set about our task as 'if' those limits might be exceeded for such action unfolds the world


A system is a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organized scheme or method, which usually happens for a series of outcomes or specific goals. Turner assumes that (some?) systems are incomplete. What I think he is saying here is that we should not fully accept a given system, "in order to achieve a given end or be slaves to its course," which will then give us a "glimpse by proxy", and whatever the outcome, "existence" will be "enriched," because such action "unfolds the world?" Nothing new here.


There are many systems, for the sake of clarity, that are complete and produce positive and productive "given ends" (outcomes) which do not require their adherents to be "slaves" to their "course". In the 19th Century, for example, physicist Nicolas Carnot, in his essay, Réflexions sur la puissance motrice du feu et sur les machines propres à développer cette puissance (Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, published in 1824), Carnot tackled the essence of the process of thermodynamics, pioneered the development of the concept of a system in the natural sciences. In 1824 he studied the system which he called the working substance (typically a body of water vapour) in steam engines, in regards to the system's ability to do work when heat is applied to it. His invention influenced the course of human history, for the better. Another inventor working within the context of Enlightenment-inspired evolving Western scientific development, of objectivity over subjectivity, of truth over falsehood.


I suspect Turner is referring here to a political system in which he thinks it would be best for those who strive not to expect to reach a goal or end or be "slaves to its course", but in the process of their futile striving, learn something "by proxy," in other words, by surrendering their authority to others, while they busy themselves - between chocolate lattes and lentil burgers - with the aesthetic equations of oscillation! Really?


5/1 ::: All things are caught within the irrevocable slide towards a state of entropic dissemblance


Let me break this gibberish down. For a start. the phrase "all things", since he uses no qualifier, would, as it is written, mean the whole of existence: the stars, the planets, the moon, the earth, and every living thing, which Turner sees as caught in a not able to be changed "slide towards a state of maximum entropic dissemblance."


I would say, in retrospect, this is how metamodernists view themselves! But what does he mean by "maximum entropic dissemblance?" According to the Cambridge Dictionary, dissemblance means the act of hiding something such as the truth or your real intentions. So what he is saying is that the whole of existence is trapped in a down-slide where its real intentions are hidden, intentions that it knows about. This is the literal interpretation of what he has written, which doesn't seem to make much sense. Let's see if by examining the second part, we can come up with anything close to a clear definition.

5/2 ::: Artistic creation is contingent upon the origination or revelation of difference therein. Affect at its zenith is the unmediated experience of difference in itself. It must be art's role to explore the promise of its paradoxical ambition by coaxing excess towards presence


Turner's reference to art is again so badly written and quite difficult to decipher. His muddy references to artistic creation I would say, at a guess, means that art within the context of this dissemblance accentuates what is different by imposing a kind of order on it, which is the revelation of difference, the "effect at its zenith."Thus, he concludes by telling us that the role of art is somehow paradoxical and this paradox itself is coaxing excess towards presence. Turner's writing is like the order out of chaos production of a Google online postmodern text generator! I suppose you could break all this stuff down into one simple sentence: existence is hiding something from us and art can tell us, little by little, what it is.


The reverence in which Turner and the meta-modernists hold art is curious, and why they would want to give it equal status to science is even more curious. Turner considers art as some sort of angel of light that brings order to chaos, which is ridiculous. Putting all ethical, moral, and virtue-signalling considerations aside, historically, art has also brought chaos to order and has often sold itself like a cheap whore to the highest bidder, enabling the rise to power of Marxist, fascist and Nazi dictators and down through the centuries has been financed by money lenders and other unscrupulous interests. Today, in the West, the art, media, and literary establishments are complicit in the repression of free speech, of artistic, literary, and scholarly censorship, and of giving legitimacy to pseudo-scientific theories and Orwellian government policies and legislation. One may deduce from all this, in defence of art, that science has been used the same way. The atomic bomb for example. True, but all this has more to do with, as Solzhenitsyn wrote, " the thread of good and evil that runs through the human heart," in other words, corruption. But we are not talking about that, but the intrinsic nature of science and art.



6/1 ::: The present is a symptom of the twin birth of immediacy and obsolescence. Today we are nostalgists as much as we are futurists


What I think he means here is that we live in the present between the past and the future, where we yearn for the past and dream and hope for a brighter future, and these experiences and feelings occur simultaneously. So?


6/2 ::: The new technology enables the simultaneous experience and enactment of events in light of new technology in a multiplicity of positions. Far from signalling its demise, these emergent networks facilitate the democratization of history illuminating the forking paths along which its grand narratives may navigate the here and now


The new technologies in the age of instant communication allow us to examine immediacy and obsolescence from a multiplicity of positions, Turner believes, does not signal any sort of demise but opens up history to a kind of democratic process, I would add without the concomitant of responsibility, allowing past grand narratives from a multiplicity of positions to find their way into the here and now, impact upon it and upon us and thereafter make life better for us all, a proposition for which all evidence is lacking.


What Turner has done is create a kind of extreme left-wing open border, anything-goes policy for history. This mode of thinking is an example of the death throes of degenerate postmodern Leftism, as it presupposes that these grand narratives are somehow equal in terms of their value and contributions to humanity and therefore should be "let in" and are not to be looked at in any context which would impose value judgments on them.


According to the metamodernist idea of “relative grand narratives”, the grand narratives of Nazism, Marxism, Islamic fundamentalism, and many others, shouldn't be judged, discriminated against, or excluded, after all, one grand narrative is as good as another and no one has the right to discriminate when these narratives are coming at you along those "forking paths of history" into the here and now, like a million illegal refugees pouring into a country that lacks the resources to sustain and integrate them. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?


The next proclamation is the most foolish of all and demonstrates the utter "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" lunacy of metamodernism. What Turner is again reiterating is that art is of equal (not different) value to science as a source of knowledge.


7/ ::: Just as science strives for poetic elegance, artists might assume a quest for truth. All information is grounds for knowledge, whether empirical or aphoristic, no matter its truth value. We should embrace the scientific-poetic synthesis and informed naivety of magical realism. Error breeds sense


Let's look at what he is saying here. Firstly, does science strive for poetic elegance? which is a kind of "feelings-based" appreciation of the complexity and aesthetic beauty of the Universe (a sense of wonder), which I think is what Turner means, and has been a corollary of scientific investigation since its inception but it does not strive for it, and it is not its primary objective, which is to discover through the incorporation of human reason and empirical observation, how the universe works and how best it may serve the betterment of humankind. What Turner is saying here is nothing new. As for artists assuming a quest for truth, that too is self-evident and has been for centuries. In fact, what he is stating is obvious. But one factor needs to be understood: the nature of scientific and artistic truths. Artistic truths by their very nature are "reflective" and when at their highest resonance can generate in the artist and his or her audience, a sense of awe, wonder, and appreciation for the great mysteries of life, but unlike science, it does not set out to gradually solve them by probing into them and understanding what processes are at work and utilize them. Put simply, art says "Wow," and science says "How?"


When Turner says that all information is grounds for knowledge he is again stating the obvious and brings nothing new to the debate. The rest of this proclamation amounts to nothing but useless, uninformed verbiage which brings me to the very last sentence "error breeds sense." Really? So, what's new? This phrase itself is one of the cornerstones of the scientific method and has nothing to do with "informed naivety or magical realism" which I think Turner may have got from watching too many Harry Potter movies.


His idea of wrapping up art and science in the same package as a kind of scientific-poetic synthesis is absurd and illustration of metamodern Leftism disappearing up its own increasingly irrelevant rear end.

The final proclamation in the Manifesto is yet another example of metamodernist, grandiloquent gobbledygook.


8 ::: We propose a pragmatic romanticism unhindered by ideological anchorage. Thus metamodernism shall be defined as the mercurial condition between and beyond irony and sincerity, naivety and knowingness, relativism and truth, optimism and doubt, in pursuit of a plurality of disparate and elusive horizons. We must go forth and oscillate!


Let's break this bullcrap down to its essential components and see what exactly Turner is trying to say starting with "pragmatic romanticism." Pragmatic meaning it is concerned with facts and actual occurrences, whilst romanticism, to quote the poet William Wordsworth (one of the major voices of the 17th and 18th-century European Romantic movement) described it in the arts as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings." But the vagaries of Turner's statements seem to imply the assumption that "strong feelings" are intrinsically good when it comes to the production of art and its appreciation of the world. But strong feelings can also be equally destructive, negative, infused with racism and every kind of bigotry, which, by the way, has often found their expression through the arts! Again none of Turner's rhetoric tells us anything new.


His pragmatism on the other hand is related to the role of science, which is concerned with the unfolding of the nature of objective reality, to which the metamodernists want to bring strong feelings. It is because of the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings that science (empirical knowledge and human reason) has always been wary of feelings-based movements and ideas, be they ideological or not. Further, such feelings are not necessarily connected to feelings of wonder and awe, be they expressed artistically, or a matter of appreciation. To reiterate, none of what Turner is saying is new, and giving it a Harry Potter twist doesn't make it so.


Turner and his gang, it seems, in the end, have decided to sit on the fence and from the safety of their metamodern cages have lost the will to act decisively, to take a stand! From the comfort of their privileged cloisters and in fear of offending anyone, they would rather remain prisoners of their own devices, balancing indecisively between and beyond irony and insincerity, naivety and knowledge, relativism, and truth, optimism and doubt. In other words, they would rather do nothing.


Consider a Rocky Mountain wood tick that has quite a sophisticated physiology that is worthy of our admiration. Yet the little bugger can also cause paralysis, illness, and painful death in a human host. Consider the magnificent Bengal tiger, one of the most graceful, awe-inspiring, beautiful animals on the face of the earth. If you insist on being "romantic" you could love them both aesthetically, but what would such love mean when the tick has burrowed into your brain and the tiger stands between you and the safety of a tree? "Your truth is not my truth?" Really? I mean, what good in the above scenarios would the products of art do you? To save you from these two potentially fatal situations, would require the products of science. Medical intervention when it comes to the wood tick, and a gun when it comes to the tiger. Both the inventions of objective reality, of reason and science, of truth over lies.




© 2022 Eugene Alexander Donnini

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