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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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3. The war of icons

Extract

Catwalk The models glide along the catwalk, high, above the heads of mere mortals, faces lit by the lightening of cameras flashing, faces frozen in gravity. Smiling very rarely and as long as the ritual lasts, the smile falls towards the audience like a sign of grace. Not until the music dies and there appears a great priest, Versace or Kenzo – veritable gods – do the models now turned giggling girls, nestle up to him, waving at the craned necks of lenses zooming in. This though, no longer belongs to the very rub of ritual. That is the picture. Fashion parade – a passion play in reverence of a secret deity. How else to explain the surprising force of the world of fashion? What would this heaven-bound elevation mean – a model, a woman in whom fashion is revelation? Why is her face anchored in infinity and why is she a picture of icy calm, a distance cold to all that is below, at her gliding feet – in a different world? Distance, to the publishers of ‘Vanity Fair’ or ‘Vogue’ bidding for her bodily charms, photographers-in-grotesque, veritable mascarons, contortionists capturing the beauty passing high above, and politicians calculating the gains that beauty can bring. Thus the Greek gods unveiled themselves to man. Thus grey-eyed Athena unveiled herself when she stood behind Ajax. A simple sleight of giving. Woman after woman, always young, emerges from the dark, steps towards the podium edge, there where the hungry bright lights of cameras wait. Walking the catwalk...

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