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The Myth of the Great TransitionI shall for the first time speak in public about the work of the Icelandic anthropologist, sociologist and historian Dr. Hallgrimmvijhalmsson, a professor emeritus at Reykjavik University.

He is now 94 years old and has devoted the last few years of his life to the myth of the Great Transition. This work has been out of public view for many years, not because it takes place underground like a mystical fellowship, but because it only becomes visible retrospectively. The working meetings and sessions have actually been held in public places. At first in shopping malls in Reykjavik, but soon fanning out to include squares, streets and such public buildings as stations, museums and skating rinks in Europe, America and Asia, as well as a few countries in Africa.

The time has come to give his work the visibility required by the planet and the historical turning point we currently find ourselves at. His research and practice originated from the painful observation that mankind has reached a dead end in his myth of the self-promoted ape who can himself bring about modern changes for the improvement of his lot. The myth in which man can simply create Progress just like that, this is precisely the story that lies behind so much of the disaster that modern society has brought down upon itself. From ecological catastrophe to increasing social inequality: they are the consequences of the notion that the successful, idealistic individual can by his own strength shape the world in accordance with his needs and desires. This myth has to be punctured, dismantled and eliminated. And at the same time we must not forget that it is a pure myth that man would be capable of living without myths.

Myth-picture-Herman-Sorgeloos-setHowever difficult that might be, because myths are fictions whose authorship remains diffuse. Myths are not consciously constructed, and when they are we get such overstrained stories like Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, nor are they eternal archetypes lying dormant at the bottom of one or other subconscious. The myths of the great transition that Hallgrimmvijhalmsson and his staff, now in their thousands, have gathered together and which are being disseminated, are short-lived, inconstant, personal fragments that turn up and then vanish again. They will turn out to form the condition that makes the success of a great transition possible. The recognition that our existence is shaped by fictions is perhaps the only form of freedom of which man is capable. The work of Hallgrimmvijhalmsson exposes the fact that we no longer have the freedom to remain blind to this form of freedom.

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