TechGnosis

Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information

Author: Erik Davis

Publisher: North Atlantic Books

ISBN: 1583949313

Category: Computers

Page: 456

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How does our fascination with technology intersect with the religious imagination? In TechGnosis—a cult classic now updated and reissued with a new afterword—Erik Davis argues that while the realms of the digital and the spiritual may seem worlds apart, esoteric and religious impulses have in fact always permeated (and sometimes inspired) technological communication. Davis uncovers startling connections between such seemingly disparate topics as electricity and alchemy; online roleplaying games and religious and occult practices; virtual reality and gnostic mythology; programming languages and Kabbalah. The final chapters address the apocalyptic dreams that haunt technology, providing vital historical context as well as new ways to think about a future defined by the mutant intermingling of mind and machine, nightmare and fantasy.
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Nomad Codes

Adventures in Modern Esoterica

Author: Erik Davis

Publisher: Verse Chorus Press

ISBN: 1891241826

Category: Social Science

Page: 352

View: 2928

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In these wide-ranging essays, Erik Davis explores the codes—spiritual, cultural, and embodied—that people use to escape the limitation of their lives and enrich their experience of the world. These include Asian religious traditions and West African trickster gods, Western occult and esoteric lore, postmodern theory and psychedelic science, as well as festival scenes such as Burning Man (of which Davis is the best-known chronicler). Articles on media technology further explore themes Davis took up in his acclaimed book Techgnosis, while his profiles of West Coast poets, musicians, and mystics extend the California terrain he previously mapped in The Visionary State. Whether his subject is collage art or the “magickal realism” of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, transvestite Burmese spirit mediums or Ufology, tripster king Terence McKenna or dub maestro Lee Perry, Davis writes with keen yet skeptical sympathy, intellectual subtlety and wit, and unbridled curiosity. The common thread running through all these pieces is what Davis calls “modern esoterica,” which he describes in his preface as a ‘no-man’s-land located somewhere between anthropology and mystical pulp, between the zendo and the metal club, between cultural criticism and extraordinary experience, whether psychedelic, or yogic, or technological.” Such an ambiguous and startling landscape demands that the intrepid adventurer shed any territorial claims and go nomad. Davis wanders with sharp eyes and an open mind, which is why Peter Lamborn Wilson calls him “the best of all guides to modern American spirituality.”
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High Weirdness

Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies

Author: Erik Davis

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 1907222871

Category: Philosophy

Page: 550

View: 8407

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An exploration of the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson. A study of the spiritual provocations to be found in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson, High Weirdness charts the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality that arose from the American counterculture of the 1970s. These three authors changed the way millions of readers thought, dreamed, and experienced reality—but how did their writings reflect, as well as shape, the seismic cultural shifts taking place in America? In High Weirdness, Erik Davis—America's leading scholar of high strangeness—examines the published and unpublished writings of these vital, iconoclastic thinkers, as well as their own life-changing mystical experiences. Davis explores the complex lattice of the strange that flowed through America's West Coast at a time of radical technological, political, and social upheaval to present a new theory of the weird as a viable mode for a renewed engagement with reality.
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In Defence of Serendipity

Author: Sebastian Olma

Publisher: Duncan Baird Publishers

ISBN: 1910924350

Category: Philosophy

Page: 300

View: 1024

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In Defence of Serendipity is a lively and buccaneering work of investigative philosophy, treating the origins of "serendipity, accident and sagacity", both as riddles and philosophical concepts that can be put to a future political use. Taking in Aristotle, LSD, Tony Blair and techno-mysticism, Olma challenges the prevailing faith in the benevolence of digital technology and the illegitimate equation of innovation and entrepreneurship, arguing instead that we must take responsibility for the care of society's digital infrastructure, and prevent its degeneration into an apparatus of marketing and finance. For although there is nothing wrong with marketing and finance per se, if they alone lead technological development, free of any discretionary political interference, the freedom to be exploited will be as much a part of the future as our ability to intervene freely in our lives, will be a thing of the past.
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The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures

Author: Dr Olu Jenzen,Professor Sally R Munt

Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

ISBN: 1472406125

Category: Social Science

Page: 492

View: 6352

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Despite the much vaunted ‘end of religion’ and the growth of secularism, people are engaging like never before in their own ‘spiritualities of life’. Across the West, paranormal belief is on the rise. The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures brings together the work of international scholars across the social sciences and humanities to question how and why people are seeking meaning in the realm of the paranormal, a heretofore subjugated knowledge. With contributions from the UK and other European countries, the USA, Australia and Canada, this ground-breaking book attends to the paranormal as a position from which to critique dominant forms of knowledge production and spirituality. A rich exploration of everyday life practices, textual engagements and discourses relating to the paranormal, as well as the mediation, technology and art of paranormal activity, this book explores themes such as subcultures and mainstreaming, as well as epistemological, methodological, and phenomenological questions, and the role of the paranormal in social change. The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures constitutes an essential resource for those interested in the academic study of cultural engagements with paranormality; it will appeal to scholars of cultural and media studies, popular culture, sociology, cultural geography, literature, film and music.
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Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin IV

Author: Erik Davis

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA

ISBN: 1441194304

Category: Music

Page: 184

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In this wickedly entertaining and thoroughly informed homage to one of rock music's towering pinnacles, Erik Davis investigates the magic-black or otherwise-that surrounds this album. Carefully peeling the layers from each song, Davis reveals their dark and often mystical roots-and leaves the reader to decide whether [FOUR SYMBOLS] is some form of occult induction or just an inspired, brilliantly played rock album. Excerpt: Stripping Led Zeppelin's famous name off the fourth record was an almost petulant attempt to let their Great Work symbolically stand on its own two feet. But the wordless jacket also lent the album charisma. Fans hunted for hidden meanings, or, in failing to find them, sensed a strange reflection of their own mute refusal to communicate with the outside world. This helped to create one of the supreme paradoxes of rock history: an esoteric megahit, a blockbuster arcanum. Stripped of words and numbers, the album no longer referred to anything but itself: a concrete talisman that drew you into its world, into the frame. All the stopgap titles we throw at the thing are lame: Led Zeppelin IV, [Untitled], Runes, Zoso, Four Symbols. In an almost Lovecraftian sense, the album was nameless, a thing from beyond, charged with manna. And yet this uncanny fetish was about as easy to buy as a jockstrap.
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Mircea Eliade

Myth, Religion, and History

Author: Nicolae Babuts

Publisher: Transaction Publishers

ISBN: 1412853176

Category: Literary Criticism

Page: 223

View: 6228

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Mircea Eliade (1907–1986) was one of the twentieth century’s foremost students of religion and cultural environments. This book examines the emergence, function, and value of religion and myth in his work. Nicolae Babuts, Robert Ellwood, Eric Ziolkowski, John Dadosky, Robert Segal, Mac Linscott Ricketts, Douglas Allen, and Liviu Borda examine Eliade’s views on the interaction between the sacred and the profane. Each explores Eliade’s phenomenological approach to the study of religion and myth. They show that modern rites of initiation, cultural activities, and spectacles like bullfighting, film, and, perhaps surprisingly, reading and writing, all harken back to the archetypal structures of the mythical imagination. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Eliade’s phenomenological approach is that it reveals what we have in common with pre-Socratic man: the mind’s structural capacity to endow objects and events with spiritual values and meanings. As a study of Eliade’s concept of the mythic imagination, the book posits an analogy between the myths of the past and modern imitations. The authors suggest that in spite of their differences and their separate historical sources, myths represent basic structures of human consciousness. This book is essential reading for all students of religion, philosophy, and literature.
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Rave Culture and Religion

Author: Graham St John

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1134379714

Category: Religion

Page: 344

View: 5584

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The collection provides insights on developments in post-traditional religiosity (especially 'New Age' and 'Neo-Paganism') through studies of rave's Gnostic narratives of ascensionism and re-enchantment, explorations of the embodied spirituality and millennialist predispositions of dance culture, and investigations of transnational digital-art countercultures manifesting at geographic locations as diverse as Goa, India, and Nevada's Burning Man festival. Contributors examine raving as a new religious or revitalization movement; a powerful locus of sacrifice and transgression; a lived bodily experience; a practice comparable with world entheogenic rituals; and as evidencing a new Orientalism. Rave Culture and Religion will be essential reading for advanced students and academics in the fields of sociology, cultural studies and religious studies.
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The Empty Seashell

Witchcraft and Doubt on an Indonesian Island

Author: Nils Bubandt

Publisher: Cornell University Press

ISBN: 0801471966

Category: Social Science

Page: 320

View: 5761

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The Empty Seashell explores what it is like to live in a world where cannibal witches are undeniably real, yet too ephemeral and contradictory to be an object of belief. In a book based on more than three years of fieldwork between 1991 and 2011, Nils Bubandt argues that cannibal witches for people in the coastal, and predominantly Christian, community of Buli in the Indonesian province of North Maluku are both corporeally real and fundamentally unknowable. Witches (known as gua in the Buli language or as suanggi in regional Malay) appear to be ordinary humans but sometimes, especially at night, they take other forms and attack people in order to kill them and eat their livers. They are seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The reality of gua, therefore, can never be pinned down. The title of the book comes from the empty nautilus shells that regularly drift ashore around Buli village. Convention has it that if you find a live nautilus, you are a gua. Like the empty shells, witchcraft always seems to recede from experience. Bubandt begins the book by recounting his own confusion and frustration in coming to terms with the contradictory and inaccessible nature of witchcraft realities in Buli. A detailed ethnography of the encompassing inaccessibility of Buli witchcraft leads him to the conclusion that much of the anthropological literature, which views witchcraft as a system of beliefs with genuine explanatory power, is off the mark. Witchcraft for the Buli people doesn’t explain anything. In fact, it does the opposite: it confuses, obfuscates, and frustrates. Drawing upon Jacques Derrida’s concept of aporia—an interminable experience that remains continuously in doubt—Bubandt suggests the need to take seriously people’s experiential and epistemological doubts about witchcraft, and outlines, by extension, a novel way of thinking about witchcraft and its relation to modernity.
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Pop Cult

Religion and Popular Music

Author: Rupert Till

Publisher: A&C Black

ISBN: 1441197249

Category: Social Science

Page: 230

View: 8845

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At a time when fundamentalism is on the rise, traditional religions are in decline and postmodernity has challenged any system that claims to be all-defining, young people have left their traditional places of worship and set up their own, in clubs, at festivals and within music culture. Pop Cults investigates the ways in which popular music and its surrounding culture have become a primary site for the location of meaning, belief and identity. It provides an introduction to the history of the interactions of vernacular music and religion, and the role of music in religious culture. Rupert Till explores the cults of heavy metal, pop stars, club culture and virtual popular music worlds, investigating the sex, drug, local and death cults of the sacred popular, and their relationships with traditional religions. He concludes by discussing how and why popular music cultures have taken on many of the roles of traditional religions in contemporary society.
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