Symbols and Myth-Making in Modernity

Symbols and Myth-Making in Modernity

Deep Culture in Modern Art and Action

By Tatiana Tiaynen-Qadir & Ali Qadir

‘Symbols and Myth-Making in Modernity’ unpacks the deep culture that nourishes human perception of reality through symbols. From ancient mythical creatures and rites through masterpieces of Renaissance to modern art and cinema, the book illustrates how ever-present cross-cultural symbols erupt in popular culture today, and what work they do in transforming the self and society.

Hardback, 250 Pages

ISBN:9781785272813

March 2021

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links

About This Book

Why do people queue up and break the bank to watch fantasy movies? Why do some fictional characters and mythical creatures strangely arrest our mind and senses? Why do some images and tales affect us so deeply? Why do we start seeing them all around and inside us? From mystical heroic journeys through uncanny images of serpents and winged creatures to invincible goddesses, ‘Symbols and Myth-Making in Modernity’ investigates the metaphoric power of symbols in human imagination today and in the past. The book traces how ever-present cross-cultural symbols, residing in ancient rites, masterpieces of Renaissance, Sufi poetry and Finnish ‘Kalevala’ myths, erupt in popular culture today, including in cinema, books, visual art, music and politics.

The book unpacks a post-Jungian, phenomenological theory of deep culture that nourishes human perception of reality through symbols and myths. It describes how complex symbols such as those in ancient myths, religions or modern popular culture should be seen as multivalent, irreplaceable, shared to the extent that they carry significance across cultures and times and pointing to interiority or inner transformation, including as compensation or as affirmation. Moreover, the most popular and common symbols are not fantasized by individuals from their subjectivity but are rather grasped or intuited. Symbols are manifest in popular culture yet simultaneously hidden so that their significance becomes apparent only with appropriate conceptual lenses which carries signification beyond the literal object itself. Lastly, art and rituals have historically and culturally been societal vessels generating the space of liminality that discloses the depth of the symbol.

Symbols have always been situated within a system of meaning — a mytho-logia — and the book highlights aspects of a modern mythology, drawing on examples from the Hobbit and the Avengers, street art and politics, as well as work of acclaimed modern artists. Dismantling literalism and disturbing our view of the world, at each step, the book unpacks how people relate to the world through symbols, how symbols play out in the modern world, and the work they do in transforming the self. At the same time, deep culture is helpful in pointing to ruptures — where modern myths stumble — thereby leading to new analyses of emerging societal crises and identifying new potential solutions.

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Author Information

Tatiana Tiaynen-Qadir, anthropologist and historian, researches and writes on anthropology of religion, especially Eastern Christianity and Islam, and on deep culture in art and rituals.

Ali Qadir, associate professor in new social research at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Finland, studies and teaches sociology of religion, especially Islam, globalization, critical and cultural theory, and deep culture in religion.

Series

No series for this title.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. Deep Culture/Popular Culture; 3. The Outer Self; 4. Moving Inward: Snakes, Monsters and Other 3 AM Horrors; 5. And Out Again: The Feminine Citadel; 6. Cyclopeia: Is There an “S” after Radicalism?; 7. Intercultural Dialogue through Symbols; 8. Opening: It’s Culture All the Way Down; Index.

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