New Edge. Technology and Spirituality in the San Francisco Bay Area DORIEN ZANDBERGEN

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1 New Edge Technology and Spirituality in the San Francisco Bay Area DORIEN ZANDBERGEN

2 Produced by F&N Boekservice 2011, Dorien Zandbergen, Leiden, The Netherlands Front and back covers designed by Lise van der Linden, Jantien Mijwaart and Dorien Zandbergen. The photographs on both covers were taken at the Burning Man festival 2005 by Dorien Zandbergen.

3 New Edge Technology and Spirituality in the San Francisco Bay Area PROEFSCHRIFT ter verkrijging van de graad van Doctor aan de Universiteit Leiden, op gezag van Rector Magnificus prof. mr. P.F. van der Heijden, volgens besluit van het College voor Promoties te verdedigen op woensdag 25 mei 2011 klokke uur door Dorien Zandbergen geboren te Hardenberg In 1977

4 PROMOTIECOMMISSIE Promotor: Co-Promotoren: Overige leden Promotiecommissie: Prof. Dr. P.J. Pels Dr. I.L.Stengs, Meertens Instituut Dr. S.D.Aupers, EUR Prof. Dr. P. ter Keurs Prof. Dr. P. Spyer Prof. Dr. D. Houtman, EUR

5 Table of Contents Introduction: The Dawn of the Age of the Homo Cyber 1 Suspended Between Enlightenment and Enchantment 1 Cybergnosis 4 New Edge 8 Studies of Technoreligion and Technospirituality 9 Bringing the San Francisco Bay Area into View 14 The Ideal and Practice of Multi-Sited Ethnography 16 Doing Anthropology and Ethnographic Self-Reflexivity 19 My Fieldwork Practices 22 The Chapters of this Dissertation 24 Chapter One: The Emic Sociology of New Edge. Celebrating Augmentation and Dissociation Studying Cybergnosis 29 Charting the New Edge Paradox 29 The Accelerating Change Conference Palo Alto September High-tech Life in the San Francisco Bay Area Studying New Edge 45 Homey's Technospirituality 46 Rave Culture 48 Mondo The Sound of Panting 53 Opposing Factory Culture 55 Bypassing the Reducing Valve 56 Celebrating Dissociation: Raves, Rollercoasters and Virtual Reality 57 Celebrating Augmentation 58 Opposing Anchors On Development 61 The Ambiguity of New Edge A Historical Perspective: The Whole Earth Catalog and the Merry Pranksters 65 The Merry Pranksters: Celebrating Dissociation 66 The Whole Earth Catalog: Celebrating Augmentation 72 A History of New Edge 81 Conclusion 81 v

6 Chapter Two: New Edge Salvation. Repertoires of Transformation Gnosis As Transformational Knowledge 86 Eclectic Transformation 1: The Gnostic Sanctuary and Raves as Molting Rituals 87 Eclectic Transformation 2: VIDEOPLACE and Singing To The Trees 91 Rave Culture and Virtual Worlds as 'Molting Rituals' Molting Rituals: Burning Man and Virtual Worlds 95 Burning Man 95 Repertoires of Transformation at Burning Man 105 Narratives of Risk and Survival at Burning Man 107 Pronoia, Magic and Slack: Tales of Possitive Connection: 111 The Expansive Body 113 Virtual Worlds 116 Apocalyptic Visions 119 A Cosmic-Religious Sense 123 Molting Rituals for the New Species New Edge Transformation in Historical Perspective 126 The Sensorium 127 The Sensorium and Synchronicity 128 The Sensorium and Technology 131 Conclusion 135 Chapter Three: The Style of New Edge. Negotiating Technoscience and New Age Being 'In-Between' 140 New Edge rejections of New Age 140 The Fractal 142 The Fractal as Spiritual Tool 144 New Age and New Edge New Edge Style 152 Irony 154 Different Interpretations of Irony 156 Multiplicity 159 Hyperbolic Performance The Backstage of New Edge 163 Challenging the Religion-Science Dichotomy 163 Gender 168 Conclusion 171 vi

7 Chapter Four: The Sociality of New Edge. Temporary Autonomous Zones Relational Understandings of Ritual 175 Pronoia and Paranoia 175 Immersive Environments as Intrinsically Sacred 178 Immersive Environments as Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) The Emic Sociality of New Edge 187 New Edge Readings of Hacking Generating Trust 200 The Psychedelics Advocate 201 The Artist 206 The Hacker 211 The Reality Hacker 214 Temporary Autonomous Zones and Trust 218 Returning To Burning Man 221 Conclusion Conclusion 229 Appendix 235 References 245 Summary in English 259 Samenvatting in het Nederlands 265 Curriculum Vitae 272 vii

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