Postmodernism is, almost by definition, a transitional cusp of social, cultural, economic and ideological history when modernism's high-minded principles and preoccupations have ceased to function, but before they have been replaced with a totally new system of values. It represents a moment of suspension before the batteries are recharged for the new millennium, an acknowledgment that preceding the future is a strange and hybrid interregnum that might be called the last gasp of the past.
The earth is mankind's ultimate haven, our blessed terra firma. When it trembles and gives way beneath our feet, it's as though one of God's checks has bounced.
In New York -- whose subway trains in particular have been ''tattooed'' with an energy to put our own rude practitioners to shame -- not an inch of free space is spared except that of advertisements . Even the most chronically dispossessed appear prepared to endorse the legitimacy of the ''haves.''