Toward the end of his life, Terence McKenna was asked what the future would feel like. “Everyone in his own private Idaho.” We have indeed been sucked into a labyrinthine warp in time, when the turbulent changes that futurists have long foreseen on the horizon—in technology, media, economics, and climate—are pulling the rug out from under the experience of the everyday world, including ourselves. Those of us not simply capitalizing on the new chaos often feel isolated, terrified, and confused. Add to that a rise of “post-truth” politics that, in America at least, has disrupted even the most baseline sense of consensus reality. The portals are open to disinformation, “meme magic,” deluded narcissism, and conspiracy theories pouring into center stage from the left and right. In this necessarily tentative talk, I will reflect on how psychedelics, gnosticism, and shamanic cosmology shed light on the global weirding of our present moment.
ERIK DAVIS is an author, award-winning journalist, podcaster, and lecturer based in San Francisco. His wide-ranging work focuses on the intersection of alternative religion, media, an the popular imagination. He is the author, most recently, of Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica. He also wrote The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape, and TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information, which has been translated into five languages and was recently reissued. He also penned a short critical volume on Led Zeppelin and magick. Erik’s essays on music, technoculture, and spirituality have appeared in dozens of books, including Zig Zag Zen, Sound Unbound, AfterBurn: Reflections on Burning Μan, and Rave Culture and Religion. Davis has contributed to scores of publications, including The Wire, Bookforum, Arthur, Artforum, Wired, the LA Weekly, and the Village Voice. He has been interviewed by CNN, the BBC, public radio, and the New York Times, and explores the “cultures of consciousness” on his weekly podcast Expanding Mind, on the Progressive Radio Network. He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University, and recently earned his PhD in religious studies at Rice University.