Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information


How does our fascination with technology intersect with the religious imagination? In TechGnosis—a cult classic now updated and reissued with a new afterword and a foreword by Eugene Thacker—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.

Some reactions:

TechGnosis is an essential work, tracing the co-evolution of technology with the urge for transcendence. It helps put today’s obsession with the singularity and post-human consciousness into perspective, without condemning them as mere symptoms of millenarian fantasy nor worshipping at the altar of the eschaton. Erik Davis sits on my bookshelf alongside William James, Terence McKenna, and Karen Armstrong.

—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock

Erik Davis has written one of the best media studies books ever published. There’s never been a more lucid analysis of the goofy, muddled, superstition-riddled human mind, struggling to come to terms with high technology. Unlike most tomes about tech, the occult, and social theory, TechGnosis is literate, accessible, and funny. A real winner all around!

—Bruce Sterling, author of The Hacker Crackdown: Lawn and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

 Erik Davis’s compendious recitation of the history of communications technology dominates the discursive landscape of techno-exegesis like a Martian war machine.

—Terence McKenna, author of The Archaic Revival

TechGnosis is a dazzling, sweeping look at the metaphysical urges underlying our technological progress. From exploring the Singularity to positioning man as the “spiritual cyborg”, Erik Davis reveals our technological subconscious and writes with a flair that crackles the mind. I LOVE this book.

—Jason Silva, Emmy-Nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s BrainGames and creator of Shots of Awe

Buy the book through North Atlantic.