Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Modern Myths in Final Conflicts

By Wes Unruh
While fairy tales like Red Riding Hood may historically be better indicators of psychological tendencies within a people than the more traditional myths of a civilization, I tend to think the division is tragic. We are always somewhat separate from our gods, but the urban legends all happened to a friend of a friend's cousin. Same with fairy tales - the stories are the narratives that people use to flesh out the world around them - the farther away the space they are mapping, the more surreal and empowered the hero, the more archetypal the expression.

Now we ourselves are journeying to the darkest spaces of the planet with diodes and halogen bulbs, scanning the earth itself with orbital satellite platforms, a technologically empowered ghost dance chasing every last spirit, for good or ill, deeper into the core of the earth (picture Agartha overrun with fables seeking shelter from the mundane accountant). It's been said if god did not exist we would have to invent her. I'm pretty sure that's been said, at least - the same goes for all myths - if they don't yet exist, sooner or later someone will speak it, seek to express that archetype in narrative, that it might be apprehended, toughened up, and brought into conversational space.

We cannot parse our existence without narrative - even if that narrative is implied. When we hear of something spilling out from the crawling chaos of our own psyche, it can only appear in divine or demonic forms until we understand it - and even then it gets iffy. When I read about the 'central nervous system for the earth' I immediately think of Gaia, first the goddess and secondly the planet in Asimov's Foundation meta-novel - and I suspect I'm not the only one who sees the shadow of Skynet as a kind of distant third. Myth-making with archetypes is a fundamental expression of sign-wielding cognition, a 'here-there-be-dragons' kind of filling in the gaps, that helps reality stabilize for a society.

Unfortunately, our current global situation seems to be a clashing of archetypal expression preventing true communication. Our world's biggest belief systems most extreme fundamentalists are all obsessively focused on the Temple Mount and the end of the world. Or more precisely, ending the world. Every time someone says they can't wait for the Second Coming of Christ, they're publicly expressing the desire to see the world come to an end. Give them a good hard slap in the face - it may not wake them out of their trance, but it will give them the slightest taste of the sheer magnitude of harm they are wishing upon the rest of the planet, not to mention the blood which has already been spilled in the name of the Kingdom of G-d.

Perhaps the new modern myths will not be myths of distance, or of the huge archetypal forces moving just beyond the liminal, almost formless yet manifest... the new modern myths will be more like fairy tales, urban legends, and cross-cultural movements of signification. The days of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity squabbling over the Dome of the Rock in the hopes of kickstartering up an armeggedon so the thousand year reign of Christ can begin once the Dajjal's armies of djinn and demons have been put down are almost over.

This is the myth of the far-away god that kills, a powerful myth that persisted for years, but didn't become apocalyptic until the myth-forms themselves sensed the encroachment into their space of the 'thought-at-a-distance' technologies of the telegraph, the radio, and finally the satellite. With the telegraph came the refinements in notions of the Rapture, with Sputnik and the Space Race Hal Lindsey conceived of and exposed 'The Late Great Planet Earth' planting armeggedonist dispensationalism into conservative politics and linking the modern state of Israel with the violence described in the Revelation of St. John the Divine.

In opposition to this traditionalist nationalist view of history, we're seeing the rise of the borderless state and the collective mind, a cybernetic enhancement assimilating (borg-like) all of the world into a new cognitive model of networked spaces. With this new virtual state, we see a different kind of archetypal force moving (as promised) against the God who kills from the skies with fire. The new world order will be all of us, illuminati each and every one, creating environments about us as we grow off world, or it'll be a cannibalistic holocaust, something very Soylent Green, perhaps. I don't think it will be the final expression of Islam OR Christianity - if anything, we appear to be smack dab in the middle of the Kali Yuga, having completely externalized every aspect of the human body (hence the above central nervous system of the earth) and that from here on out it's all going to be the rising sun of the golden age. I'm not saying we are the new modern myths, but rather the idea that we are the new myths is a new, modern myth - and it is shaping who we are becoming.

...oh, and a very happy birthday to the dead Dr. Seuss.

Pre-order a copy of The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized in July 2011.

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