Remediating the apocalypse

Myth Bricolage and Hypertext

From Christian Hubert's Hypertext project :

According to most accounts, in myth concepts are expressed in images, not in philosphical terms. Claude Levi-Strauss describes mythic thought as a well-articulated system, lying halfway between percepts and concepts. While percepts are impossible to separate from the concrete situations in which they appeared, concepts need be abstracted (in Husserl's sense that thought must put its projects "in brackets.") from the event and understood in their unlimited systematic substitutibility. For Levi-Strauss, signs are intermediaries between images and concepts, in the way that de Saussure described their double articulation of phonic material and undifferentiated thought.

For Levi-Strauss, the characteristic feature of mythic thought is that it expresses itself by means of a heterogenous repertoire, which even if extensive, is nevertheless limited. (The Savage Mind, p17) In a famous passage, he goes on to compare mythic thought to the activity of the bricoleur, who makes do with "whatever is at hand," that is, a set of tools and materials which bears no relation to the current project, or indeed to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all previous occasions to renew or enrich the stock. The tools of the bricoleur are not instrumental in the sense of the engineer. Nor, according to Levi-Strauss, does the bricoleur try to go beyond the constraints imposed by a particular state of civilization the way the engineer is always trying to. (p. 19) (see structure / event)

Gregory Ulmer's hypertext framework, Mystory, is essentially a bricolage process where what he calls the Popcycle of individual identity is discerned by assembling images from family, entertainment, school and career (also sometimes the domains of church and street). This links to other aspects of Ulmer's work including his concepts of electracy and the wide image or widesite.

This web project is an evolving space exploring contemporary manifestations of the apocalyptic in current affairs and popular culture. It is being developed in association with my Ph.D. research and is both a research method and a presentation of that research. In exploring the apocalyptic I am particularly interested in mapping a series of multimodal mythic clusters that are evolving through a process of remediation which I identify as a key cultural logic for an age in which electracy is the new literacy of nomadic subjects. This hypertextual presentation foregrounds affiliational logic and although I hope the project accumulates meaning it does not seek to present a single, formal, linear argument. I have presented some of these ideas in more traditional academic formats in other places. Although the navigational choices are the user's own these tips may be useful. Feedback is very welcome.

Marcus O'Donnell 2005-2006