Cities and Myths. Technology and Dreams. These couplets seem perfectly opposed to each other. On the one hand, the modern city is opposed to the mythic land — it is where we find ourselves now, a far cry from Odysseus and Osiris. On the other, our dreams represent, surely, our nocturnal detachment from our technological entanglements, from emails and cars and laser pointers; a pure spectacle we share with our agrarian forefathers as much as the kicking dog on the carpet.
However, this quick distinction into two separate spheres of human experience conceals more than it reveals. In this first issue of Epoché we present five pieces that hope to complicate this smooth striation that would see our myths as the narcoleptic geography of the always having been before and our cities as the technological geography of the always about to be.
Everywhere today, and perhaps always, there is talk of flight, escape, retreat, and always this is framed in terms of a flight from the city, from the technology that forms its structure, back to some mythic site: the ideal community, the pagan connection with “nature”, the nationalist or religious golden-age, and so on. What these regressive projects miss is the very way that this escape to the mythic site is deeply intertwined with the effective functioning of our cities and technologies themselves. If there is one theme for this our first issue, one realization our contributors are grappling with from different angles, it is this.
Rather than forming its hoped for outside that can be escaped to, the myth forms the ever present of the city, whether that be the myth of Oedipus and its authoritarian vs capitalist formulations, the dreams and fantasies that overlay our cities and inform their construction, the myths our present society retroactively posits in its own past to ground itself, or the mythic play of creativity that creates a geography in the first place. Everywhere is the pressing question, what myths are our technologies, social as well as material, whispering into our ears at night as we dream?