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Since we began to be “post-traditional,” our recourse to myth has mushroomed. In the emporium of what is supposedly timeless, the mythical and iconic are plundered, sampled, and rewritten to satisfy a diffuse desire, somehow anchored in the cultic, for authentication and continuity of tradition. When this no longer works with divinities that hardly anyone knows anymore, new myths are created. So we have the myth of the Harley-Davidson brand, the myth of primal socio-technological initiations (when Bob Dylan went electric, when Paul McCartney brought Karlheinz Stockhausen to Pepperland) – in short, “Mythen inTüten” [myths in bags], to reference a late-1970s band from Hanover, or the very serious “work on myth” spoken of by phenomenologist Hans Blumenberg.

Vilém Flusser responds in his own way to the inflation of our demands on myths: not by ascetically damming up inflationary talk of myth, but rather by picking up the pace. He tells stories whenever he puts forward arguments, and whenever he starts to argue, he launches into storytelling. There is not the slightest attempt at separating logos and mythos. His typical way of commencing an article, and thought, is as follows: “When man appeared on the scene […], to put a time and a place to history, two million years ago at the headwaters of the Blue Nile, when he began storing the information he had gained, he essentially had just two methods.” (Kommunikologie weiter denken, 2009, p. 40; translated from the German)These were by means of a mythical, oral culture and by means of the “aides-mémoires” of “material culture” (ibid., p. 42; translated from the German), transformed into a “historical, literary culture” (ibid., p. 44; translated from the German). In this way Flusser depersonalizes myth and creates a narration of the way “magic and myth” are left behind.

Flusser’s work is basically swarming with myths; he simultaneously deconstructs them, hands them down, gives them surprise twists, locates them in places where no one expects anything mythical, and exposes them as lies. Within the function and semantics of myth, three tendencies seem especially clear: Myths have a unify- ing function; they tell, ostensibly in opposition to logos, of the power of the irrational (and they tell lies, too); and finally, they are tied to specific places and cultural environments, where they are rooted in imitative ritual.

Original article by Thomas Düllo

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myth.txt · Last modified: 2021/11/05 17:47 by