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mythemes and database imagination

from the wikipedia entry on mythemes:

In the study of mythology, a mytheme is the essential kernel of a myth—an irreducible, unchanging element, a minimal unit that is always found shared with other, related mythemes and reassembled in various ways—”bundled” was Claude Lévi-Strauss’s image— or linked in more complicated relationships, like a molecule in a compound. For example, the myths of Adonis and Osiris share several elements, leading some scholars to conclude that they share a source, i.e., images passed down in cultures or from one to another, being ascribed new interpretations of the action depicted as well as new names in various readings of icons. Claude Lévi-Strauss, who gave the term wide circulation, wrote, “If one wants to establish a parallel between structural linguistics and the structural analysis of myths, the correspondence is established, not between mytheme and word but between mytheme and phoneme.” …

In the 1950s Claude Lévi-Strauss first adapted this technique of language analysis to analytic myth criticism. In his work on the myth systems of primitive tribes, working from the analogy of language structure, he adopted the term mythème, with the assertion that the system of meaning within mythic utterances parallels closely that of a language system. …

Lev Manovich also uses the terms seme and mytheme in his book, The Language of New Media to describe aspects of culture that computer images enter into dialog with.

from the wikipedia entry on Lev Manovich:

Database as a Symbolic Form

In 2001, Lev Manovich came out with an essay called “Database as a Symbolic Form”. In this essay, Manovich defines the term database and compares it to narratives. He explains how a database is like a big unordered list, whereas narratives orders their list with a beginning, an end, and a certain path to follow. Readers tend to want to mold things into a narrative. He uses the example of Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov, and describes it as “the most important example of database imagination in modern media art”. Manovich applauds Vertov for creating something that illustrates a middle-ground between databases and narratives. As well, he discusses the concepts of paradigm and syntagm and how new media reverses their original relationship. Instead of syntagm being explicit and paradigm implicit, the paradigm (database) is given material existence and the syntagm (narrative) is de-materialized.

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