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The Changing Guise of Myths

Philosophical Essays

Series:

Andrzej Leder

Each of us, waking in the morning, has to open the world we have woken into. We have to endow meaning to people, objects and tasks, have to secure a place in the chaos of time passing. When opening their eyes during the palpable reality of a dream, a person will dream beyond the dream, will carry over meanings and experiences from one sphere to another. The author of these collected essays puts various strategies under the microscope which we deploy to make the world material, analyzing the mythical structures we use for this purpose – interpreting anew their changing guise in the contemporary. Being witness to the changing material desert of post-Soviet Eastern Europe transforming into the over-saturated jungle of modern capitalism, he offers a unique window into the seemingly obvious – only to unveil its manifold human aspects of the hidden.

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2. Melancholies and rituals

Extract

Melancholies and rituals According to orthodox psychiatry, melancholy is the most frequent psychological indisposition. Around the globe there are around a billion depressed women and about half that number of depressed men. Thus if someone is in a state of depression they certainly have no cause to feel lonely or alienated. At hand there are melancholics aplenty. It is suffice to count to five and we can see a colleague with a fellow indisposition. And how does one know one is in a state of depression? The question is not at all a silly one. Depression is not a toothache, nothing that can be pointed to, apart from the fact that everything is not as it should be. Depression paints the entire world in dark colours and persuades that this is in fact reality. That in reality there is no cause for laughter – and that ‘others’ simply are not aware of this yet. And in the meantime it transpires that this is not at all so. Researchers have established therefore that changes to the sensitivity of post-synaptic receptors, catecholamine and 5-hydroksy-tryptophan in the brain are to blame. If a person has too little (or too much) 5-hydroksy-tryptophan, then they long for something that cannot be defined. Or they are afraid of something that cannot be defined. The first of these conditions is known as nostalgia. A person sits, looks out into a void and pines. Only they have no idea for what. In fact they do not know that they...

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