I am speaking of the modernists, of course, from Pirandello to Joyce. But the modernists still had a sense of something beneath them, even if they sensed that solidity below might be illusory. Because of that, their relativism was contained, in a way, by the real world. Post-modernists instead had to deal with a present void, the horrors of what had happened, a nothingness beneath that threatened to devour our precarious existence above. So lightness, ‘leggerezza’, as the Italians say, became an important theme in post-modernism, in contrast to ‘heavy’, certain characters and contexts. If the world itself could disappear, what is it we live in?
“That was really, really close,” you adroitly say after you’ve escaped by running through a mysterious antique ruin that just happened to have a store of the special butter made from the milk of cows fed exclusively on a rare flower that grows only on one particular European hillside that you were looking for. Eureka!