Furio Jesi. The mythological machine and collective imaginary

Furio Jesi was a mythologist, germanist, historian, translator, militant critic. After his untimely death at 39 years of age, his thought and work has become an essential contribution for anybody interested in the issue of myth, through “an intense essayistic activity concerning the myth in Antiquity, its modern resurgences and its political technicalization during the 19th century.

Against the ideological conception of myth, he coined the definition of mythological machine: the production of mythological materials legitimating power and stabilizing its identity. Of this machine, active during the twentieth century and not only, he pointed out the aesthetic dimension and the capacity to simultaneously generate literary space, imaginary and utopia; and most of all alternative experiences that illuminate the existence”—from Riga 31’s back cover. His reflections happen to be precious for the designer too; better, for the construction and the formation of a critical self-awareness concerning his professional practice. Is today impossible to deny the role that the design of visual communication fulfils within our spectacularized society. From a broad perspective, to design means to operate on collective and cultural imaginaries, extracting from them preexisting symbologies and narrations to which give a new form—a new design, precisely—hence transforming their meanings and possible uses. Willing or not, the graphic designer is today a gear of the mythological machine of which Furio Jesi talked about. Riga is a series curated by Marco Belpoliti and Elio Grazioli, edited by marcos y marcos. Each publication is a monographic volume devoted to a key figure of 19th century’s culture and thought. Riga 31 concern itself with Furio Jesi, hosting many unpublished essays written by Jesi himself—among various contributions by Wu Ming 1, Georges Dumézil, Ferruccio Masini, Cesare Cases, Franco Volpi, Gianni Vattimo, Giorgio Agamben, Marco Belpoliti, Giorgio Cusatelli and many others.