A return to myth is timely. And yet what other direction can we turn?
Our lives are like so many myths to hand. Myth begins as a form of storytelling: stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, about others; in the way we reconstruct our personal memories and reason out our drives. What are we assuming? For it is something all too disquieting, as our contributions here attest. Myth is both the primitive narrative of the ancients and the ignorant, and the other-space of every story, where truth disappears into speculation, misinformation and whispers. It is into this grey space we enter.
Myths of the near future dominate our era. Shock doctrines, states of exception, the Big Society, 9/11, the Neoliberal faith in liberated markets. Even the future itself has become a myth we sacrifice ourselves to, be it in precarious labour, or the Left’s stagnation into the impasse of Communism and tax evasion. We begin with two riddles: is our Western notion of happiness a myth, or is myth the basis for our happiness? The city pulses now, enchanted by broken glass, the spectacle of its own wound, the scent of beer and burnt plastic against a manic grime beat. New myths reveal themselves within these cracks: student violence, Left-wing propaganda machines and false prophets attempting to take the power back. Follow us as riot season blooms under a tense 2013 heatwave in Laura Oldfield Ford’s visions, where we end up in Deptford in a parable of prescription drugs and disappearance acts.
Someone must have been telling lies about you and I – or were they just myths, nothing more? – in the representations of our culture in the blue chatter of TV sets in nocturnal bedsits. Perhaps a Pepsi Max masculinity of male conquest and infantilised hedonism? The entirety of our lives are privatised and a certain callousness develops, as we begin to defiantly accept the negative words we once jabbed ourselves with. As the public is fed to carnivorous capitalists we read the future in chicken bones before paralysis restricts what we came for.
But no! Myth also offers a way out of the fatalism and increasing depression of cultural and economic cutbacks. Metamorphosis maybe, or perhaps we are all Luther Blissetts now. Two cowboys swagger through the Western to shoot down dead the Big Society. Bang bang! These are mythic times we move through.
Laura Oldfield Ford
Nicholas E. Gledhill