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Postface. Minor Gestures, Minor Media

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2022

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Summary

The architectural motif of the labyrinth appears at decisive junctures in Fernand Deligny's long essay The Arachnean, a text itself composed of detours, repetitions and associations of a heterogeneous nature—he draws on the fields of mythology, anthropology, philosophy and milieu theory, as well as on personal memories. It is a metaphor for endless complications followed by endless solutions: the path of Icarus on his way through the labyrinth, culminating in his tragic flight to the sun. Crucially, Deligny introduces the labyrinth as an analogy to the main figure of the text—the Arachnean, a spider's web, a network of trajectories of autistic children.

To admit the persistence of the Arachnean would require such upheavals in the way the Man-that-we-are [l’homme-qui-nous-sommes] has organized themself that it is entirely reasonable to think that we will persist on the flight path that has become so ordinary and so powerful that it puts us in orbit, while hoping that what happened to Icarus won't happen to us, Icarus who was so preoccupied with escaping the detours of the labyrinth. And the Arachnean can truly be said to be rich in endless detours.

According to the Greek myth, Icarus and his father Daedalus, the labyrinth's architect, are both imprisoned in the confusing structure on the island of Crete. In order to escape the labyrinth, Daedalus finds a solution—he fashions two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for Icarus and himself. However, despite his father's warnings, Icarus cannot resist the pleasure of elevation and approaches the sun. The wax of his wings melts and he drowns in what is today the Icarian Sea.

Interestingly, the myth serves Deligny as a paradigmatic image of the mode of human behaviour, the action put in parallel with a labyrinth and Icarus's flight as a properly humanist project. In other words, Icarus's tragic fate implicitly reflects upon the condition of the ‘Man-that-we-are’, its finality and its teleology.

The labyrinth appears in this parallel as an obstacle, a challenge to be overcome in order to transition to the new level of the thrilling adventure where the hero once again faces his fate.

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Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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