This site considers the symbolic element of the way we live, in our technologically advanced cities of light, and what the mythic resonances behind this might be. It delves into ancient ideas, current uses, and the ecological consequences of our addiction to luminescence.
The name Cities of Light was chosen because it refers directly to this modern phenomena as well as the symbolic quest lurking about beneath its surface. But there’s more to the site than that. Human societies are built on myth. Whether it is a myth of a Paradise Lost that we can hope to regain if we can only mount enough technology to create it in our own image, or a garden of Eden we can wander about in, unmolested by the vagaries of biological existence, or a great tower that will get us closer to living like gods… humans love to dream and the dream inspires action. I want to explore the modern dream but not just critically.
There is a sense in which, no matter how much damage we do to the ecosystem, we are building on a dream that we are the chosen children of the earth. We might be self-defeating in our cleverness, self-involvement and greed, but we know deep inside that this planet is an amazing place to be and that we need to protect it from unlimited rapaciousness. Beneath selfishness there is love for the earth and we need to tap into that because, while we now know the mega-industrial complex needs to be adapted – and pronto – to ecological imbalances that threaten existence on the planet as we know it, we also need a new dream to replace the old one. You know, the old idea that we could live as if we were free of the earth and its limits, as if we were capable of transcending the body and our ecological niche without cost… the one that drove us to these cities of light in the first place. And the thing is, the new dream will include imagery based on light’s inherent goodness.
It will also include the hope that we can enjoy our cities; that they will remain places of light in the coming darkness. So that is the transformative hope towards which this site is dedicated. No going back to an imagined time of paradise before technology – but a going sidewards towards whatever adaptive techniques are necessary, rather than forging ahead forever into some imaginary bright future without the rest of the ecosystem to bother us…
The name Cities of Light suggests the creative element that inspires us humans to build these incandescent hives of activity, burning bright in the night, and that knows that we have the power to adapt the way we live to new realisations like the danger of burning up so much fossil fuel just to surround ourselves in permanent luminescence… Enter the myth and bring your own dreaming!
About me: I’m researching this field both in a scholarly sense and, maybe more importantly, as an act of creativity. I’ve got an MA and PhD in the area but i also seeks any level of intuitive insight into this perennial phenomenon; so please feel free to send in your ideas for discussion and open contemplation!
Geoff Berry, PhD “Under the Dominion of Light; an ecocritical mythography” Monash University 2010, Centre for Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies, supervisor Associate Professor Kate Rigby
MA “Sojourn: contemporary mythopoeia as initiation, underworld journey and atonement” Deakin University 2005, School of Communication and Creative Arts, supervisors Associate Professors Brian Edwards and Ann McCulloch (this project was written as a short novel with an accompanying philosophical exegesis; extracts will be available on this site, along with some other pieces of creative writing and commentary).