Theories & Links

Myth These ten points provide a general “definitional matrix” for my study of myth in journalism and popular culture.

Apocalypse The apocalypse myth has a long lineage in a variety of historic cultures not just the Judeo-Christian world. As Eugen Weber has argued, “apocalypse long furnished the key to human history,” particularly in the Judeo-Christian west where until the 17th century “premonitory history” was history.

The quest The quest myth is one of the fundamental mythic patterns discernable in a variety of cultures and times: the Arthurian quest for the Holy Grail, Moses’ quest for the promised land, the exploits of the Homeric Odyssey are obvious examples. The Star Wars films, The Lord of the Rings or The Matrix trilogy offer variations of this story in contemporary guise.

New world/other world The quest narrative is closely related to the discovery of new worlds, expanding the frontier is a task faced with both desire and trepidation in many traditional hero stories.

Home Creation myths and national foundation myths are common mythic forms. The myth of the Jewish promised land is one such ancient story that continues to have very material consequences.

The family drama The web of family drama is today unavoidably set against pervasive psychoanalytic self-awareness. Classic myths meet dysfunctional families and royal successions are played out in the corporate corridors of multinational organisations.

The alchemist In popular discourse alchemy is only tangentially related to the complexities of the mystic precursor of modern chemistry. In its ancient form, alchemy was not just based around crude attempts to transform lead into gold but was a well developed esoteric philosophical system.

The Trickster The trickster is one of the most enduring and widespread mythical figures. The antics of Br’er Rabbit, the Shakespearean fool, Native American Coyote tales, Chinese Monkey tales, the adventures of the Greek god Hermes, and the exploits of the Rabelaisian carnival can all be read as realms of the trickster type.


Documents: talks

O’Donnell, M., 2007, "Something smart going on: the
apocalyptic aesthetics of surveillance," Second Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security: From
Dataveillance to Uberveillance and the Realpolitik of the Transparent Society, University of Wollongong, 29 October 2007.

ABSTRACT This paper analyses surveillance as an integral element in contemporary discourses of the apocalyptic. It outlines a model of the apocalyptic that has its roots in the western religious tradition particularly the last book of the Christian bible: The Book of Revelation. It explores the intersecting narratives of surveillance, the apocalyptic and the forensic as a way of contextualising contemporary political, pop cultural and technological events. Each of these narratives play themselves out through a dialectical logic: surveillance is seen as bringing both intrusion and protection; the apocalypse is harbinger of both destruction and a new world; while the forensic revels in both discovery and horror. Each of these narratives is related to a search for meaning and authenticity and each is expressed through a broad range of multimodal contemporary mythic structures in news, film, television and politics.







   This site was designed by Marcus O'Donnell as part of his Ph.D research