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As the coming technological innovations face us and threaten us, can we reconsider what technology is, what role it has in our lives, and how we can encounter (as well as build it) spiritually? What is the morality of technology; not just the morality of building new technologies, but the
I asked writer and theologian Peter Bebergal to talk about just that.
Peter is the author of the entrancing book, Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural as well as two other books and an upcoming anthology about the inspirations for Dungeons & Dragons. His work always confronts and investigates the connections between the spiritual, the artistic, and the seemingly everyday.
I am experiencing all of these topics with a sense of increasing urgency, so I'm so happy to be able to share this conversation with you.
ON THIS EPISODE
- That time I saw a skeleton walking down the road
- Why repeatability in science is dehumanizing and how to liberate ourselves from it
- Why we need to understand technology as enchanted
- Mapmaking through the enchanted
- The uses and problems of seeing information, not individuals, in medicine
- When (and why) ayahuasca doesn't work
- Magic for frivolous uses versus magic that we need
- How spiritualism dissolved our fear of hell
- There are no unaltered states of consciousness
- Why religions are not the same and how art reveals this
- How to use magic to hack technology
- The failures of wonder
- Using technology to mediate the presence of dangerous spirits
• For more on Peter, here's a great episode of Other Side podcast with him, and here's a conversation between he and Jeffrey Kripal. And here's his website, which is outdated, but has links to tons of articles he's written.
• I talk about some of the issues of morality and technology on AEWCH 105 with Mark O'Connell.
• I do love Thomas Nagel's book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, whether or not it made me want to send Thomas an email and be like, "Just read occult stuff!"
• Want to read up on the Keely machine?
• I have yet to read Umberto Eco's classic novel, Foucault's Pendulum. But I'll get to it soon enough.
• "As long as humans can misuse technology, we will never be slaves to it." - Erkki Kurenniemi
• Peter talks about Gareth Branwyn, a trailblazer in the maker movement.
• Anyone else remember Mazes & Monsters? I actually never saw the film (with Tom Hanks) but I did read the novel.
• Here's a summary of the work of philosopher and theologian, Rudolf Otto.
• "One way of torturing the dead, one way of failing to show them love, is to participate in spiritualist seances. For this forces them to manifest in a particular language. The dead person is expected to speak a particular language, for even with table-rapping the signs have to refer to a particular language.
What is done to the dead by forcing them to express themselves in a particular language might very well be compared with pinching someone living in the flesh with red-hot tongs. So painful for the dead are spiritualist seances which expect them to express themselves in a particular language. For in their normal life the dead are striving to free themselves from the differentiations between languages."
- Rudolf Steiner
• Here's Peter's essay, "To Believe or Not To Believe: That Is Not the Question".
• A great, easy-to-read explanation of the Galileo stuff I mention is in Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry by Owen Barfield.
• The Cottingley fairies are a lovely and beautiful hoax (although there is a little bit of contention over one of the images, all these years later).
• Here's Peter channeling Arthur Machen for an interview.
• If you haven't read James Merrill's channeled, beautiful book of poetry, The Changing Light At Sandover, you really should.
• My Friend Dahmer is, in my opinion, a far superior graphic novel than film. So get it and read it.
• Here's "Errormancy" by Kim Cascone.
Thanks friends, I'll contact you again through your devices soon!