TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information

Editorial Reviews

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.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

Table of Contents

I. Imagining Technologies
II. The Alchemical Fire
III. The Gnostic Infonaut
IV. Techgnosis, American-Style
V. The Spiritual Cyborg
VI. A Most Enchanting Machine
VII. Cyberspace: The Virtual Craft
VIII. The Alien Call
IX. Datapocalypse
X. Third Mind from the Sun
XI. The Path Is a Network

Book Details

  • Author:
  • Pages: 456 pages
  • Edition: 1
  • Publication Date: 2015-03-17
  • Publisher:
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583949305
  • ISBN-13: 9781583949306

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