The Magus of Silicon Valley – multiple afterlives of a conference paper

Transhumanism and religion proves a popular topic.  I started exploring some aspects of the transhumanist movement from the perspective of a scholar of religion and esotericism earlier this year, in connection with a conference.  I have never had more responses from so many different audiences to a conference paper. After uploading my “Magus of Silicon Valley” paper to Academia.edu this summer, I’ve had private messages, emails, reblogs and comments (including a few annoyed transhumanist reactions) – several requests for spinoffs. First of this was a public lecture in the occulturally oriented Forum Nidarosiae in Trondheim. There’s also been interest from more old-fashioned humanists (the type that’s not too impressed by flashy prefixes such as trans-, post-, or neo-). Thus, a spin-off article is underway with the Norwegian secular humanist magazine Humanist, while another has just now been published in the Australian online magazine MercatorNetdescribing itself as being of “dignitarian” orientation, which I take to be a non-confessional, non-partisan, cross-worldview form of humanism (the editor in chief, Michael Cook, is open about his Catholic leaning – while justifications appear to be classic European Enlightenment: no revelation, just reason, evidence and critical practice).

So if you haven’t read it yet, “The Magus of Silicon Valley” is now relaunched in a new medium – slightly edited and modified for the occasion (the jargon should be a little less Academese this time around). They also added a link to a very recommendable documentary on Ray Kurzweil: “Transcendent Man”. Watching it a few years back contributed to my interest in doing something on the movement from a religious studies perspective.

It’s time to sit back and await the first accusations of being in league with this or the other vested interest, dissing the transhuman visionary movement – or perhaps even supporting the coming Inquisition against it.

 

 

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This blog post by Egil Asprem was first published on Heterodoxology. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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ESSWE4 round-up – reviews and impressions from across the esosphere

Attendees are starting to get some distance from the ESSWE4 conference in Gothenburg now, and a number of reviews and impressions have appeared on blogs during the last week. Below you’ll find a round-up of pieces written from different perspectives. My own two cents you’ll find here.

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The biggest esotericism conference yet – ESSWE4 and the schizophrenic life of academics

A few days ago I returned from Gothenburg, Sweden, after the fourth international conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (or #ESSWE4 for those following the tagboard). It was slightly larger than the three previous conferences (in Tübingen, Strasbourg, and Szeged); more than 90 papers were presented, there were discussion panels, keynotes, and night-time events. The conference was spread out over four days, and it needed every minute of the daily 9-hour schedule.

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Getting ready for ESSWE4: interdisciplinary panels, international networking, magickal musick – and the transhuman apocalypse

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ESSWE4: Gothenburg, Sweden, June 26-29, 2013.

I’m only doing one conference this summer season, but that is already turning out to be a massively busy and exciting event. Now that the final program is available, and the book of abstracts can be downloaded, the ESSWE4 conference in Gothenburg, Sweden, stands out as everything that an international conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism should be: strongly interdisciplinary (the inclusion of historians of science and medicine is particularly noticeable, and a greater number of sociologists and anthropologists is also a highly welcome development), with a rich and varied program that includes panel sessions, discussion groups, roundtables, and keynotes. There is also a dinner in the Masonic Hall and a final esoteric concert event: Genesis P-Orridge and Carl Abrahamsson (known in the esoteric world as editor of The Fenris Wolf) perform live with their act, White Stains. P-Orridge and Abrahamsson will even appear in a half-hour discussion group at the conference itself on the final day, entitled “Music and Esotericism from the Inside Out”.

Browse the program on the website to find out more.

In addition to that, you should check what people are saying about the event in social media on this Tagboard (join the conversation with the tag #ESSWE4). This promises to be the first ESSWE conference with live twitter feeds to follow, so do check that out and contribute if you are going! (I hear there will be free wifi available, so no need to worry about insane roaming charges) .

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Launching the ESSWE4 conference website

Esotericism and Health: ESSWE4 Conference, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, June 26-29, 2013.

Esotericism and Health: ESSWE4 Conference, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, June 26-29, 2013.

The fourth biannual international conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) is fast approaching. It’s focused on “Esotericism and Health”, takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden, and – it’s just gotten its own website. The website has all you need to know, from online registration and conference accommodation, to a list of all accepted papers and speakers. Do check it out!

The ESSWE conferences are big events in the relatively small community of esotericism scholarship. With  about one hundred accepted papers, plus keynote lectures, roundtable events, and a secret surprise conference concert, this year’s is going to be a major one. So if you’re still on the fence about whether to go or not, take some time to browse the website. You might also want to keep track of developments, as more events might still be added to the programme. Taking on my ESSWE membership secretary hat, I should also remind you that there are substantial fee reductions for Full and Student members of the Society (application forms here)… In any case: Hope to see some readers in Gothenburg in June!

 

Launching ContERN with a Google group and a Call for Papers

As announced previously, a new network has been created with the aim of placing the field of contemporary esotericism clearly on the agenda of academic research: the Contemporary Esotericism Research Network, or ContERN for short (no connection with the Third International, we promise…). It is affiliated with the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE), and everyone who participate in our activities is encouraged to become a member of that organisation (which can be done by applying online here).

There is currently a Google group which will work as a mailing list and discussion forum for the network (click here to sign up), and also a Facebook group for easy communication.

As the description on the Google group reads:

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