Remediating the apocalypse

Multimodal Mythic Cluster

Traditional notions of myth have always been cognisant of story as a multimodal performance rather than a static text. That myths are associative and combinatory can be seen in Levi-Strauss' famous metaphor of myth as bricolage .

Levi-Strauss' (1963) exhortation that we treat myth as "an orchestral score" and then try to establish the correct "arrangement" is analogous to the production of a hypertetxual system.

In arranging the "mythemes" in a set of "bundles" he urges that it is "our task to discover" the relations that make the myth (rather than just the story) understandable.

Levi Strauss' "mythemes" are effectively hypertetxual nodes. His structural analysis of myth an equivalent of the cognitive mappings that emerge in hypertextual space

Such clustered mythic units might also be imagined as Derrida's "bites" of writing. For Derrida the fact that any piece of text can be bitten off - cited, punctuated - means that it can also be infinitely reconfigured.

In referring to "multimodal mythic clusters" rather than simply to "myths" I want to highlight a traditional anthropological understanding of myth as well as its relationship to the production of contemporary multimedia hypertextual systems.

If we take Bolter and Grusin's paradigm of remediation - a constant oscillation between “transparent immediacy” and “hypermediacy”- as a key factor in both contemporary media logic and broader cultural logic, then the clustering of mythemes across media, genre and modal spaces provides a coherent way of understanding some of the dynamics of the contemporary mythosphere.

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