Perniola takes his inspiration from ancient Roman religion and its demystification of myth as ritual without myth. This demystification of ritual does not entail a process of secularization nor does it compromise the sacred character of myth. Instead, it is an attempt to establish a link or a transit between the sacred and the profane. The repetitive nature of ritual thinking is an attempt to relate the individual to the "hard nuts of experience"-sexuality, death, and the vast complexity of the world.
These realities are "opaque and impenetrable, indifferent and extraneous to subjective purpose and good intentions. They appear to be 'things' that are irreducible to the life of the spirit and to its ideal aspirations." Where philosophy breaks down in coping with these actualities, ritual thinking provides a symbolic means. Today we witness the global dissemination of behaviors that have lost their original meaning. These behaviors and patterns of thought have become the modern rituals through which we cope with reality.
This composite of two works—Transits and The Society of Simulcra—by one of Italy's most innovative thinkers, here translated into English for the first time, will be invaluable to philosophers with an interest in continental philosophy.
About the Author
Mario Perniola is professor of aesthetics at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and is the author of many books on aesthetics including Disgusti: New Trends in Aesthetics and Nineteenth Century Aesthetics.