I recently joined a book group, discussing the book TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information by Erik Davis, and though I’m not finished yet, I thought I might jot down a few notes why I love this book so much.
I remember first reading this book back in the late 90s. I was into the ravings of Terrence McKenna, so this book tickled my psychedelic and tech loving buttons at the time.
The book states it’s intention right from the get go: “You may think you are holding a conventional book, a solid and familiar chunk of infotech with chapters and endnotes and a linear argument about, in this case, the mystical roots of technoculture. But that is really just a clever disguise. Once dissolved in your mindstream, TechGnosis will become a resonating hypertext, one whose links leap between machines and dreams, information and spirit, the dustbin of history and the alembics of the soul.“
The book really is hypertextual - Erik Davis draws in these disparate edge cases of weirdness, religion, myth and technological breakthroughs, and paints a picture that insinuates humanity’s scientific cravings are propelled by a longing for transcendence.
From the beginning, where he pits the Greek demigod Hermes as the high tech hacker to Apollo’s lab coated scientist you’re drawn into his jazz like meanderings, and it continues with journeys through theosophy, the electrical spiritualism and “animal magnetism” of the 1800s.
He journeys into stories of gnostics, extropians and UFOs and somehow manages to wind them into a coherent tale. The language is dense, but in a way that allows you to unravel new meanings on every read. This is one of my favorite books.
If you want more Erik Davis, his Expanding Mind podcast is also well worth checking out.