Erik Davis is an author, award-winning journalist, and scholar with a wide-ranging focus including the intersection of alternative religion, media, and the popular imagination. Today he talks about the mystic gnostic nature of American spirituality and how essential to Gnosticism is the direct experiential awakening, more than simply knowledge of spiritual mysteries. Erik’s scholarly and popular essays on music, technoculture, drugs, and spirituality have appeared in scores of books, magazines, and journals, and his writing has been translated into a dozen languages. In this episode we discuss:
How to define Gnosticism
The difference between religion and spirituality
The deadhead religious phenomenon
The acknowledgment of suffering and redemption songs
“The key point [of gnosticism] is the sense of originality that there is something in the self that is sort of before creation. And that if you get in touch with that, then you are both sort of more directly connected to source and you're capable of creating something new.” - Erik Davis
Tune in as Erik Davis covers Gnosticism, the narcissistic self-help bubble in America, and how to be less susceptible to believing false conspiracy.
- His online publication and newsletter the Burning Shore: erikdavis.substack.com
- Book: The American Religion - Harold Bloom
- Book: Angel Tech: A Modern Shaman's Guide to Reality Selection
- Book: The Varieties Of Religious Experience: A Study In Human Nature - William James
- Book: The Gnostic Gospels - Elaine Pagels
Erik Davis (www.techgnosis.com) is an author, award-winning journalist, and scholar 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, co-published by MIT Press and Strange Attractor, and recently on audiobook. He also wrote Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (2006), a critical volume on Led Zeppelin (2005), and the celebrated cult classic TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (1998). Erik’s scholarly and popular essays on music, technoculture, drugs, and spirituality have appeared in scores of books, magazines, and journals, and his writing has been translated into a dozen languages. 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. For a decade, he explored the “cultures of consciousness” on his weekly podcast Expanding Mind, and currently writes the newsletter The Burning Shore at erikdavis.substack.com. He graduated from Yale University in 1988, and later earned his PhD in religious studies at Rice University.