ERIK DAVIS discusses his new nonfiction book HIGH WEIRDNESS

High Weirdness (MIT Press)

A study of the spiritual provocations to be found in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson, High Weirdness charts the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality that arose from the American counterculture of the 1970s. These three authors changed the way millions of readers thought, dreamed, and experienced reality—but how did their writings reflect, as well as shape, the seismic cultural shifts taking place in America?

In High Weirdness, Erik Davis—America’s leading scholar of high strangeness—examines the published and unpublished writings of these vital, iconoclastic thinkers, as well as their own life-changing mystical experiences. Davis explores the complex lattice of the strange that flowed through America’s West Coast at a time of radical technological, political, and social upheaval to present a new theory of the weird as a viable mode for a renewed engagement with reality.

Praise for High Weirdness:

High Weirdness is the first book in a very long time that’s given me the feeling of discovering a secret truth—a set of corridors through the maze of consciousness, existence, anomaly, and synchronicity. It’s the sense of complete novelty yet utter familiarity, like suddenly remembering a dream that you’ve been having every night and then forgetting. Davis is describing, perhaps even retrieving, the strange attractor driving the visionary seventies. It’s a sensibility all but lost to the utilitarian, conformist predictability of the digital age. Yet it’s also precisely the terrifying and awesome novelty we need to recover if we’re going to preserve the uniquely human ability to embrace paradox, celebrate ambiguity, and laugh at death. Don’t be afraid. It’s just the weird.”—Douglas Rushkoff, author of Team Human and Present Shock

“Things got so weird in the seventies that even the weirdest got to turn pro. Even if I was tripping I couldn’t imagine a better guide to McKenna, Wilson and Dick than Erik Davis. He has always taken the religious dimension of modern esoteric thought seriously, yet also lightly. Here he proves yet again to be a reliable guide to the outer limits.”—McKenzie Wark, author of Molecular Red and The Beach Beneath the Street

“Erik Davis’ deep expertise in the esoteric underpinnings of popular culture makes him the perfect psychonaut to navigate the major perturbations in our reality field wrought by those giants of the counterculture, Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, and Philip K. Dick... Thanks to Davis’ unique ability to straddle high scholarship and hipness with his learned, sympathetic perspective and lively yet rigorous writing style, the publication of High Weirdness marks an important milestone in esoteric studies and the conjunction of two previously separate worlds.”—Victoria Nelson, author of The Secret Life of Puppets and Gothicka

“It’s miraculous how High Weirdness gives us so bracingly sober an account of the far reaches of psychedelic delirium. Rejecting easy credulity on the one hand, and snarky dismissal on the other, Erik Davis explores ecstatic experience without turning it into mystical dogma, but also without ever explaining it away. High Weirdness is neither a wonder tale nor a philosophical treatise; yet it is a masterpiece of what I can only call speculative fiction, or indeed speculative realism.”—Steven Shaviro, author of Discognition and The Universe Of Things

“What happens when a trained historian of religions seriously engages the magical mushrooms, flying saucers, science fiction, and invisible trickster entities of the 1970s counterculture with the open mind and heart of a gifted literary artist? What happens when a rigorous intellect encounters a monstrous bestiary of actual spectral presences? Erik Davis happens. This book happens. And I could not be happier about it. May this book, like a glo wing UFO, land on your lap, and every other lap,and weird our world beyond all measure.”—Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions

Erik Davis is an author, podcaster, award-winning journalist, and independent 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 of Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (2006), a short critical volume on Led Zeppelin (2005), and the celebrated 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. He explores the “cultures of consciousness” on his long-running weekly podcast Expanding Mind, on the Progressive Radio Network. Davis has spoken widely at conferences, retreat centers, and festivals, and has been interviewed by CNN, the BBC, public radio, and the New York Times. He graduated magna cum laude from Yale University, and earned his PhD in religious studies at Rice University.  

Event date: 
Saturday, June 8, 2019 - 5:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781907222764
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Mit Press - June 11th, 2019