Vice spoke with RS contributor and counter-culture writer Erik Davis about “following your weird” in life, psychedelics, conspiracy theories, and “haunted technology.”
VICE: Hi Erik. The phrase “follow your weird” has been associated with you. What do you mean by that?
Erik Davis: It’s what I did instead of getting a normal job. I followed weirdness and wrote about it. The exploration of the unusual became a way of being. Most of the interesting people I’ve met did the same thing; characters like Terrence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson – those guys were very good at following their weird
I was struck by the phrase one of you mentors used: “PhDs don’t impress me; people who have confronted the void impress me.” What impact did that kind of thinking have on your life?
When I heard that, something shifted inside. I realised that thinking, talking and reading fall short of encounters that go beyond ordinary thought. It’s important to keep portals open to those experiences.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9hv8I8ZjJ0
Are you talking about taking psychedelics?
There are many portals. I have a lot of respect for psychedelics and the way they challenge, shatter and call forth new perspectives, but sometimes we can overemphasise the extreme experiences at the expense of looking for less stressful ways of keeping the mind open. Meditation, yoga and sexuality are all ways of pushing the limits of experience without shattering your perception.
Can you explain your concept of “techgnosis”?
Techgnosis describes the way in which technology is haunted by spiritual dreams, fears and hopes. We think that technology is a work of science, but if you look at how we use it, these supposedly rational devices are overwhelmed by the “irrational” parts of ourselves.
Give me an example of a haunted piece of technology.
The way we experience the power of computers very much recalls the old magicians who dreamt of devices that could give you all the information in the world – the ability to see into the past and to communicate over great distances.