Weird Gnosis with Erik Davis
IMPAKT TV on occult rituals and esoteric psychedelia
Location: Online: Planet IMPAKT
“I am regularly shocked these days with the degree to which once outré signifiers of the fringe—like Burning Man, or the occult rocket scientist Jack Parsons, or the heavy-duty what-the-fuck of [hallucinogenic tryptamine drug] DMT—have become part of common conversation and common consumption. Even the academy, which long resisted this kind of greasy kid stuff, has turned on. Ayahuasca tourism, left-hand-path occultism, the history of Bigfoot—all are fair game for a tart little study.”
– Erik Davis in High Weirdness (MIT Press)
Are we witnessing a psychedelic renaissance?
On Thursday 2 December at 20:00h we presents a new online episode of IMPAKT TV. We talk with Erik Davis about the turn toward the weird in contemporary culture and theory. Erik Davis is an American journalist, critic and podcaster, known for his creative explorations of esoteric mysticism. His latest book High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies (MIT Press/Strange Attractor Press) explores the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality – and its becoming mainstream. The event is also the latest addition to the new IMPAKT webproject Weird Gnosis: https://weirdgnosis.impakt.nl
From the occult rituals of witchcraft to esoteric psychedelia, the online webproject Weird Gnosis takes you on a journey into some of the weirder parts of the web. With a selection of video and performance art, Weird Gnosis curates a dialogue with artists and thinkers whose practices radically disturb the familiar by invoking the truly weird. Watch teaser
As new media technologies appear increasingly indistinguishable from magic, the Internet is becoming a forum for the struggle between magickal subcultures – the ‘k’ differentiating it from rabbit-from-a-hat stage magic – who use the language of esoteric revelation and weird mediation. From ancient spiritual practices of divine self-knowledge – or gnosis – to the psychedelic drugs of contemporary cultic milieus, these technologies of the self can be conceptualised as both cure and poison – what the ancients called a pharmakon.
While they have been imagined differently in different places and times, these technologies of the self have generally been relegated to the margins. In the last few years, however, dramatic legal and cultural changes have taken psychedelics mainstream. While there are reasons to celebrate these new openings, we need to preserve the mystical lineage through which these weird practices reach all the way back to secret mysteries of antiquity.
The online event is free.
Weird Gnosis is an IMPAKT webproject with artworks by: Camille Barton, Zach Blas, Yin-Ju Chen, Joshua Citarella, Ellie Wyatt, Geoffrey Lillemon, Juliette Lizotte, Agnes Momirski and Suzanne Treister.
Curated by Inez de Coo and Marc Tuters.
Supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, the City of Utrecht, and the Democracy & Media Foundation.
About IMPAKT TV
IMPAKT TV is a series of monthly online events by IMPAKT [Centre for Media Culture] to reflect on current social events and/or (artistic) debates. Previous episodes focused on topics including NFT’s, the power of algorithms in music and conspiracy theories.
The episodes are broadcasted for free on planet.impakt.nl and on IMPAKT’s YouTube channel
Erik Davis― Speaker
Erik Davis (www.techgnosis.com) is an author, scholar, and teacher based in San Francisco. His wide-ranging work focuses on the intersection of alternative religion, media, and the popular imagination. He is the author, most recently, of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies (MIT Press/Strange Attractor Press). Davis has spoken widely at universities, conferences, retreat centers, and festivals, and has been interviewed by CNN, the BBC, NPR, and the New York Times. He graduated from Yale University in 1988, and earned his PhD in religious studies at Rice University in 2015. He currently writes the newsletter Burning Shore (www.burningshore.com).