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

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9780517704158: TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information
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Exploring the mystical impulses behind our obsession with information technology, TechGnosis presents a fascinating and passionately original perspective on technoculture.
        
Today we often assume that the triumph of technological rationality has condemned the spiritual imagination to the trash heap of history. But as Erik Davis explains, religious impulses and magical dreams permeate the history of technology, and especially information technology. Ranging from the printing press to the telegraph, from radio to the Internet, Davis peels away the utilitarian shell of technology to reveal the mystical and millennialist fervor that attends each new communications breakthrough.
        
As he unveils the hidden history of technomysticism, Davis shows how the religious imagination continues to feed the utopian dreams, apocalyptic visions, digital phantasms, and alien obsessions that populate today's technological unconscious. From shamanism to alchemy, evangelism to Buddhism, TechGnosis probes our virtual future through the visionary lenses of the past. In these pages, Davis offers a lucid, playful, and astonishingly erudite journey through our hyper-mediated environment. Anyone grappling with the morphing boundaries and terminal speed of our present moment will want to take the ride.

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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

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Praise for TechGnosis

"TechGnosis is a tour de force of scholarship, insight, and juicy writing. Like McLuhan, Erik Davis sheds light on the shadows--the places we've neglected to look, or have feared to look, in our search for the meaning of human inventions."
--Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier

"TechGnosis is at once an EEG of our silicon unconscious and a recovered memory of sacred technologies. Erudite but wired to the eyeballs, Davis is that rare blend: a postmodern classicist, equally at home with ancient automata and alien autopsies. A true believer in the politics of myth, he is mindful, nonetheless, of the social issues that haunt our techno-eschatologies. Erik Davis is the perfect tour guide to our Disneyland of the Gods."
--Mark Dery, author of Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century and editor of Flame Wars

"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: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

"TechGnosis is a delirious and exhilarating exploration of the metascapes of new mind and new nature. Pungent and profound, the writing is pure alchemy, and the reader is redesigned in the very act of reading. This is perhaps the best book written on where we are going and how we got there."
--Jean Houston, author of A Mythic Life

"Erik Davis is an astute guide through the heavens and hells where cyber-reality, pop culture, and spiritual impulses arm wrestle each other for dominance. TechGnosis is a fascinating book that rewards the reader with an uncommon number of surprises and insights."
--Jay Kinney, editor-in-chief, Gnosis magazine

"Erik Davis's compendious recitation of the history of communications technology dominates the discursive landscape of techno-exegesis like a Martian war machine. In the grand style of H. G. Wells, TechGnosis is an apocalyptic synopsis of this century's technological climax."        
--Terence McKenna, author of The Archaic Revival

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781583949306: TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information

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ISBN 10:  1583949305 ISBN 13:  9781583949306
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9781852427726: TechGnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Age of Information (Five Star Paperback)

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