Accepted paper:

Creating a new 'real-topia' from the teachings of the ancient Maya: Mayanism and the reappropriation of myth

Authors:

Suzanne Nolan

Paper short abstract:

This paper will explore how the myths of the Maya, of the creation of the world and the Gods, have been manipulated by the Mayanism community in order to react both against and with the modern, globalising world.

Paper long abstract:

Conceptual artist Jenny Holzer has said that "myths make realities more intelligible." But to what extent can this be the case in the modern, globalising world? Today, the myths of the Greeks, Amerindians, Egyptians, and others, are seen as products of superstition and misunderstanding of the world around them. However, these old world myths can be used to inform and develop modern 'realities'. Mayanism - new age beliefs influenced by pre-Columbian Mesoamerican, particularly Maya, mythology and religion - has adopted ancient myths to make today's realities more intelligible to its followers. Many of the ancient myths which have been adopted undergo alterations to fit the perceived shifting realities of modern culture, which many of those who follow Mayanism feel they have become disillusioned by. David Nye, in his work on the development of utopia's to "real-topia's", argues for the concept of "nos-topia" (a place of nostalgia). Using this framework, it can be argued that Mayanism seeks to create a new, better 'real-topia' based on the 'nos-topian' ideals of the ancient Maya. This paper will explore how followers of Mayanism attempt to 'decode' the supposed primordial messages of a higher human consciousness that they believed the Maya encoded within their art and architecture. It will demonstrate how the myths of the Maya, of the creation of the world and the Gods, have been manipulated by this new age community in order to react both against and with the modern, globalising world.

panel P24
Accommodating the primordial: the function of myth in a globalising world