In most indigenous cosmologies, everything in the world has a life of its own–rocks and pots as much as humans, ravens, and vines. In contrast, the modern West has seen the world as a machine to hack. But this mechanistic worldview is now breaking down. The environment crisis is driving a re-enchantment of the earth, and a recognition that all manner of living creatures deserve a voice of their own. Even mainstream philosophers and scientists are coming to believe that consciousness is not the possession of humans alone, but may infuse all matter. At the same time, technology itself is growing more enchanted, as we face a brave new world of robots, animated bots, immersive virtual realities, and Artificial Intelligences. Everywhere, people are encountering the strange and marvelous agency of things, creatures, plants, machines. How do we live with all these Others? Welcome to the era of Re-Animism, a renewed time of allies, tricksters, and phantasms good and ill.
Erik Davis is an author, podcaster, and speaker based in San Francisco. His classic book TECHGNOSIS was republished in 2015. His podcast Expanding Mind streams weekly on the Progressive Radio Network.