Hyper-prolific freelance writer, independent scholar, and cultural critic Erik Davis emerged as a key voice of the Information Boom of the 1990s and, through his writings for Feed, Rolling Stone, Gnosis, and the Village Voice (not to mention his long-time editorial stint at techie bible WIRED Magazine), gave human shape and divine meaning to Silicon Valley‘s Cambrian Explosion of networks and gadgets. Based in San Francisco, Davis made a name for himself in 1998 with the densely-researched TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information, along with a number of essays appearing in books including Flame Wars, War of the Words, and Zig Zag Zen. Davis has lectured extensively at universities and symposiums throughout the world, making appearances everywhere from Brazil‘s Electronika Festival to the Esalen Institute to Craig Baldwin‘s underground film Spectres of the Spectrum.
Born the same month as the release of Sergeant Pepper‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Erik Davis‘s formative years were a psychedelic trip through the citrus groves of Reaganite Southern California. Experimenting with various altered states, reading Hunter S. Thompson and Moebius, nodding along to the forward-thinking sounds of Brian Eno, Pink Floyd, and Frank Zappa—all of it prepared Davis for his undergraduate work at Yale University, where he explored the intersection of Gnosticism and the work of science fiction luminary Philip K. Dick (a fellow Californian) for his senior thesis.
Yet academia was hardly the place for Davis‘s wide-ranging intellect, and after school he became a freelancer to better peruse his seemingly contradictory interests in mass culture and the esoteric. This obsession with the magic, mythic, and mystical themes of the popular hi-tech imagination—covering everything from the religious underpinnings of video games to the re-appropriation of Star Wars iconography by Haitian voodoo cults—would eventually lead to TechGnosis, a seminal work which earned Davis rave reviews from a cyberculture A-list including anarcho-romantic Hakim Bey, Mystery School founder Jean Houston, Sci-fi visionary Bruce Sterling, techno wizard DJ Spooky, VRML evangelist Mark Pesce, and the late entheogen expert Terrence McKenna.
The seed crystal for Techgnosis began in the early 1990s, when Davis became fascinated with the hybridized forms of an exploding postmodern worldspace, turning his attention to everything from virtual reality shamans to Extropian transcendentalists to ravers and technopagans. Deep within the cultural history of this media explosion, Davis would find strange pockets of a mystical technoculture, which became the driving influence of the book as a whole.
TechGnosis peels away the exterior shell of technology to reveal the interior forces guiding the inter-objective realm‘s explosive development. From the printing press and its antecedents to the advanced telecommunications systems we now take for granted, Davis sheds light on the utopian dreams, apocalyptic visions, digital phantasms, and alien obsessions that populate today's "technological unconscious," highlighting a uniquely contemporary spirituality he dubs "the network path."
Davis continues writing for WIRED and other media outlets, and currently teaches a class on the spiritual legacy of modern-day California (a topic he is also devoting his next book to) at an alternative college in the Bay Area.