In the afterword to Neuromancer, Jack Womack writes:

In transversing the passage through his own dark holler, William Gibson learned, as all writers who matter learn, to emit one of quite a different nature—a warning shout, yes, but an exclamation of wonder as well, one that will echo across more landscapes than we can imagine for many years. It seems to me that in these interesting times of ours, in the maelstrom of pomo distractions, not only have attention spans shortened, but so as well have memories. I have no way of knowing what today’s young people will recall, years hence, when they remember the World Before Cyberspace. I am positive, however, that they’ll not forget Bill Gibson.

While I can parse the rest, I am curious what pomo means in this setting. Looking it up, it appears that it could be an indigenous people of California, but that makes little sense in the quoted sentence.

So, what does "pomo distractions" mean?


Pomo is an informal abbreviation here for post-modern or post-modernist. Postmodernism is a highly flexible and widely misused term that refers to various trends in criticism, philosophy, the arts, and other areas of culture rejecting objectivity and universalism in notions of beauty, truth, morality, progress, and so on, in a rejection of modernism.

The use of pomo as opposed to postmodern is in keeping with the informal, conversational tone of the afterword; an author might also use it to indicate s/he is being unserious or ironic, or self-deprecating. It is easier to find examples styled as po-mo or PoMo, but recent examples are not too difficult to find:

Smug, overblown and self-conscious — the wit-free wisecracks are wall-to-wall — the film wastes Chris Hemsworth, whose Thor has shown he can do po-faced, po-mo comedy, and squanders Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson. (Nigel Andrews, "Men in Black: International — mutant aliens upstaged by Piers Morgan", The Financial Times, 12 June 2019)

Gehry’s signature PoMo moves—like zig-zagging escalators and bright perforated-metal accents—didn’t survive the renovation, but now the courtyard has an even more important role as a public breezeway connecting the Third Street Promenade shopping district to the Expo Line light-rail station. (Alissa Walker, "Will this PoMo wonderland in San Diego be saved?" Curbed, June 5, 2019)

It’s no secret that so-called PoMo revival — a rebound in taste for the audaciously Postmodern — is raging in the world of Western design. (Lila Allen, "An Order to Décor," The New York Times, May 7, 2019)

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