This is a bit more editorial and on the soapbox than my normal posts, but I think some of you will appreciate it.
Here’s the thing — and stop me if you’ve heard this one before — there is no difference between people and the technologies they use.
Let me back up. I’ve covered elsewhere that I find that when thinking of a human being, it helps (it helps me at least) to really think of them as an information cloud. Sure there is a very, very physical dimension, but just as that physicality is, on a certain level, a loosely packed form of lots of little bits whizzing about held together by energy fields, human existence extends beyond the reach of that physicality to include the information that is produced and exchanged by a human being and the media through which that information is carried.
This is where magickal thinking intersects with technology, because magickal thinking brings the idea of a human existing as more than their physicality to the table, but unlike a strictly dogmatic approach, it also at least tries to bring an exploratory methodology to the table along with it. It can, if used properly, help create better maps of the technological territory we’re immersed in. Because, let’s face it, Augmented reality is here, people are walking around with Personal Area Networks that intersect with other networks all of the damn time. Even from a purely state-of-the tech standpoint, we’re deeply immersed in systems of interpersonal fields of em-radiation mixing and matching and recombining so that I can watch YouTube on the bus or so that I can get a real time map of where I’m at or so I can talk to mom while hanging out on top of a parking garage while she’s in her kitchen.
And as the bandwidth of those connections improves, so too will their ubiquity and their ability to impact others via the rapid transmission of ideas. Because, don’t get me wrong, I often prefer face-to-face communication, but it’s mainly a bandwidth issue… we don’t have any pipes fat enough to transmit and process information as well as humans can do in a meat to meat situation due to the VAST amount of information processing and sensory absorption power the human form possesses. Yet.
None of that is even taking into account the more subtitle aspects of the information cloud, like memes, ideas and cultural constructs.
All of my talk of magickal thinking is not to say that people are not the end result of physics and chemistry… because it seems awfully likely that they are. We are our consciousness — a hallucination of a hallucination, the outer skin of a soap bubble, a very tenuous and fragile thing that is the most powerful force in the world and also it is a product of physics and chemistry and biology. I know, this makes me a bad pagan in some circles, but I can live with that. Human consciousness while a non-localized phenomena in some regards is also an embodied phenomena. It probably would be too much to quote Marshal McLuhan around this point so I’ll skip that.
Which brings me around to my point. Consciousness (embedded in its carrier biology) makes technology. Technology is a mirror of consciousness… I mean look at architecture or product design or the new lines of cars. Look at what medicines are produced based on whatever is currently pathologized. Look at our weapons, look at our art.
The things we make are extensions of ourselves. This should be self-evident, but in a culture largely still bound up by Cartesian duality, we separate our “things” from “ourselves” even to a certain extent including our “bodies” in the list of our “things”. (And, of course, this isn’t even touching on how the physicality’s and minds of others can be absorbed into the ‘thing’ category so very easily as well.)
And now, starting with grunts and writing and radio, moving on through the internet and widespread wearable computing and augmented reality, these things are all also mirrors of ourselves. Our tools for touching each other and touching the world around us are still mirroring us. It’s mirroring how we are idea generating and pattern recognizing machines. It’s mirroring how we learn and talk and share ideas, how we transform the lives around us in the simple act of communicating with it; by sharing information.
Technology is, as it always has been, a mirror for the human experience. It’s just that now, thanks to how communications technology is developing, it mirrors the non-localized human experience in such a way as to make it more visible. We reach out beyond our bodies with our tools just as we started doing when language developed, just as we did when we sent music into space, just as we did when we put a rock into someone’s skull. It’s just that now, because of the prevalence of the technology of the invisible, of the massive leaps in information and data transfer and how we’ve integrated these things into our lives and our bodies; the parts that are getting mirrored are the parts that have traditionally been consigned to the invisible landscape.
Which brings me back ’round to magick. These “archaic” systems of thought have very detailed methodologies for incorporating and manipulating systems of information that extend beyond the traditional notions of the body or physical existence. Many of these systems understand the importance of the Idea and how these phantom things can heal or hurt.
Technology has brought us back to magickal thinking because magickal thinking has working maps of the empherial and invisible human experience that are just now being made visible to all via leaps in information technology.
That’s how Grinding and the re-manufacturing of self and my skeptical and detail oriented tech head meshes with the part of me that’s a practicing magician. There are a lot of toolsets that are useful for looking at our biota from the outside, and magick is the one that has worked best for me.