Infinitive waves obediente to the human touch

October 1, 2011

“The American of today is no longer afraid of the rattlesnake. He kills it; in any case, he does not worship it. It now faces extermination. The lightning imprisoned in wire – captured electricity – has produced a culture with no use for paganism. What has replaced it? Natural forces are no longer seen in anthropomorphic or biomorphic guise, but rather as infinitive waves obediente to the human touch. With these waves, the culture of the machine age destroys what the natural sciences, born of myth, so ardously achieved: the space for devotion, which evolved in turn into the space required for reflection.

The modern Prometheus and the modern Icarus, Franklin and the Wright brothers, who invented the dirigible airplane, are precisely those ominuous destroyers of the sense of distance, who threaten to lead the planet back into chaos. Telegram and telephone destroy the cosmos. Mythical and symbolic thinking strive to form spiritual bonds between humanity and the surrounding world, shaping distance into the space required for devotion and reflection: the distance undone by the instantaneous eletric connection.”

Images from the Region of the Pueblo Indigenous of North America, Aby Warburg.
Image credits: Second Mesa, Hopi, Arizona, Warburg Archive.