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Erik Davis

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Techgnosis: Myth, Magic + Mysticism in the Age of Information (1998) - Erik Davis
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The gap between the technological mentality and the mystical outlook may not be as great as it seems. Erik Davis looks at modern information technology--and much previous technology--to reveal how much of it has roots in spiritual attitudes. Furthermore, he explores how those who embrace each new technological advance often do so with designs and expectations stemming from religious sensibilities. In doing so, Davis both compares and contrasts the scientific attitude that we can know reality technologically and the Gnostic idea of developing ultimate understanding. Although organized into reasonable chapters, there's a strong stream-of-consciousness component to Davis's writing. His expositions may run, for example, from information theory to the nebulous nature of Gnosticism to the philosophical problem of evil-­all in just a few pages. It's as if there are so many connections to make that Davis's prose has to run back and forth across time and space drawing the lines. But the result, rather than being chaotic, is a lively interplay of wide-ranging ideas. His style is equally lively and generally engaging--if sometimes straying into the hip. In the end, he succeeds in showing the spiritual side of what some may see as cold, technological thought. --Elizabeth Lewis


Erik Davis is a San Franciso-based writer, culture critic, and independent scholar. His book TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information was released by Harmony Books in the fall of 1998. It has been translated into five languages, and has achieved, in certain circles, the vaguely enviable status of a "cult classic.[1]

Erik Davis' writings have also appeared in Wired, (the late online magazine) Feed and over half a dozen books. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Davis [Jul 2005]


San Francisco-based freelance writer Erik Davis has been covering technology, music, critical theory, and the subcultural landscape since graduating from Yale University in 1988. He has contributed to The Village Voice, Wired, Mediamatic, The Utne Reader, Spin, Lingua Franca, and The Nation. His essay "Techgnosis: Magic, Memory, and the Angels of Information" was presented at 4 Cyberconf in Banff, Canada, and appeared in the book "Flame Wars" [Mark Dery]. He recently guest-edited an issue of the Austin, Texas-based cyberzine FringeWare Review. He is currently writing "Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Religion in the Information Age," which will be published by Hyperion in 1997. His talk derives from a chapter in that book. [1996?] http://www.techgnosis.com/bio.html [2003]

His essays

His articles: [...] they are Figments because they are generally inbetwixt and inbetween -- not quite journalism, not quite cultural criticism, not quite flights of fancy. They are Inklings because they gesture forward and beyond: to other worlds, other concepts, other possible selves. Most of all, I suppose they are essays, if you recall that essay means an attempt, a perpetual weighing of things, always on the fly.

Lee Perry [...]

Having abandoned the Jamaican tropics for the snowy peaks of Switzerland, the legendary reggae producer Lee Perry—aka Scratch, the Upsetter, the Super-Ape, Pipecock Jackson, Inspector Gadget, the Firmament Computer, and a cornucopia of other monikers and aliases—now makes his home in one of the quietest corners of Europe. It's an odd but somehow fitting environment for Perry—not because precision clocks and banks have much to do with the intense, spooky, and profoundly playful records he's known for, but because Lee Perry had always been something of a stranger in a strange land. --http://www.techgnosis.com/dub.html

Erik Davis on Afro futurism

Where are we? The collective mindscapes we both find and lose ourselves within seem to be rapidly mutating: the compressed "urban" density of an increasingly globalized, networked, and overpopulated world; the twilight zones introduced by media saturation and the collapse of master narratives; the blurry boundary regions between identities, ethnicities, bodies, cultures; the virtual interdimensions of cyberspace. These new social and psychic morphologies demand that we reimagine space itself. -- Erik Davies in http://www.techgnosis.com/cyberconf.html

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