By creating a new interface between the self, the other, and the world beyond, media technologies become part of the self, the other and the world beyond. They form the building blocks, and even in some sense the foundation, of what we now increasingly think of as ‘the social construction of reality’.
Historically the great social constructions belong to the religious imagination: the animistic world of nature magic, the ritualised social narratives of mythology., the ethical inwardness of the ‘religions of the book’, and the increasingly rationalised modern institutions of faith that followed them. These various paradigms marked the their notions and symbols in the world around them, using archetecture, language, icons, costumes, and social ritual, – and often whatever media they could get their hands on .
For reasons that cannot simply be chalked up to the desire for power and conformity, the religious imagination has an irrepressible and almost desperate urge to remake the mental world humans share by communicating itself to others. From hieroglyphs to the printed book, from radio to computer networks, the spirit has found itself inside a variety of new bottles, and each new medium has become, in a variety of contradictory ways, part of the message. When the Norse god Odin swaps an eye for the gift of the runes, or when Paul of Tarsus writes in a letter that the World of God is written in our hearts, or when New Age mediums ‘channel spiritual information‘, the ever shifting boundaries between media and the self are redrawn in technomystical terms.
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TechGnosis – Myth and Mysticism in the age of Information
Serpent’s Tail; New edition edition (12 Nov 2004)