Hermetic Library fellow T Polyphilus reviews Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica by Erik Davis:
Erik Davs’ Nomad Codes is a beefy collection of mostly-short articles and essays written during the decades on either side of Y2K, in contemplation of music, drugs, literature, magick, and all manner of cultural weirdness. For the most part, these are biographical studies of creative figures and popular anthropology of countercultures, but there are a couple of movie reviews, and other less identifiable literary forms.
I was pleased to see Davis employ the category of ludibrium in his “Shards of the Diamond Matrix,” but the result wasn’t nearly as compelling to me as the personal anecdotes that surface in various various travelogue passages, in the prefatory “Teenage Head” memoirette, and the two brief essays “Diamond Solitaire” and “Remote Control.” These latter pieces seem to be signposts for the two (complementary?) spiritual conditions that Davis is most concerned to indicate: mystical engagement and paranoid alienation. Unlike his ludibrium, the more theoretical piece on “Tantric Psychedelia” uses tantra to refer to the Asian religious tradition, not the popularized sex mysticism of neo-tantra.
With dozens of pieces broken out into five sloppily thematic sections, there’s quite a bit of variety here. Davis approaches his material intelligently, but he doesn’t condescend to his subjects or his readers, and the book is a pleasure to read. I seem to share his interests sufficiently that, in many cases, his exposition didn’t show me anything new, but I enjoyed it anyway. And there were certainly a few ideas and people I was grateful to encounter for the first time. [via]
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