Cyclical Reverie

Cyclical Reverie 圓形的幻想


The vast mythic constellation linking fire, the cross, friction, gyration, sexually and music is summed up in a note by Granet relating to a ritual object found in the excavations at Lo-Lang. The object is in the form of a circular hardwood plate fitted a small square board of softwood.



Granet apprehends in all its aspects the symbolic complex we have just studied: “ It will suffice to point out the existence of a whole body of mythical data that bear witness to the link between the theme of fire and the themes of gyration, the wheel and the pivot,” joined to the “ theme of the swing, the May pole and sundial.”



He also links some of these themes to “ the notion of Tao and hierogamic practices in relation to an arrangement of numbers evoking the swastika. The theme of flaming torches appears to be linked to a set of practices and metaphors consistent with the idea of hierogamy.: Granet completes the constellation by adding its musical constituents: the driving tool described above is always linked to the acoustic pipe which gives the first note of the Chinese scale.



The Chinese pentatonic scale connects with cruciferous cosmic symbolism since its five notes from “ a cross, which gives the symbols of the center and the four seasons”, and consequently “ the ancient sages considered problems of musical theory to be linked with the calendar.” Thus we conclude that all cyclical reverie relating to cosmology, the seasons, the zylic production of fire and the rhythmic musical system, are manifestation of sexual rhythm.



We can make two observations about the rhythmic technology that we have just studied. First we can see that most of the technical instruments of primitive man—the shuttle, spinning-wheel, cart wheel, potter’s wheel, churn, grinding-machine and lastly the arani or fire-lighter—result from an imaginary schema of cyclical temporal rhythm. Rhythmology is at the beginning of every technique, especially that of the two most important inventions for humanity; fire and the wheel.



Hence our second observation: these technical models of circular rhythm, structured by the engram of the sexual gesture, will gradually separate from the schema of eternal recommencement to take on a Messianic significance, and produce the Son, one of whose prototypes is fire. Plant or animal filiation over-determines technical “production” and predisposes it to a new way of controlling time. The primitive notion of “ product” –be it plant, animal, obstetric or pyrotechnical—gives rise to symbols of “ progress” in time.



We have dealt with the images of the cross and fire separately from the technology of cyclical movement because, with the creation of fire, a new symbolic dimension is added to the mastery of time. Time is no longer conquered by the mere certainty of return and repetition, but because the combination of contraries gives rise to a definitive” product”—a “ progress”—which is a justification of change.



Thus irreversibility is controlled and becomes promise. Just as cyclical reverie is shattered by the appearance of fire, the effect of which is so much greater than its means of production, we shall now see that the imagination of the tree, overdetermined by vertical schemata, breaks progressively with the cyclical mythology within which the seasonal imagination of the plant kingdom was contained.



In the phenomenology of fire, as in phenomenologies of the tree, can be seen the transition from purely circular to synthetic archetypes that will establish highly effective myths of progress and historical revolutionary Messianic movements.




Anthropological Structures of the Imaginary

By Gilbert Durand

Translated by Springhero雄伯


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