Podcast 129 – “The Imagination and the Environment”


Guest speaker: Erik Davis


[NOTE: All quotes below are by Erik Davis.]

“The imagination is a key, and pivotal interface, between human beings and the natural world.”

Eric Davis delivering his 2007 Palenque Norte Lecture at the Burning Man Festival“Any kind of restorative, sustainable renewal of our planet has to exist on the imaginal realm as well as the realm of technical solutions, political developments, and technological fixes. It’s a multi-dimensional problem.”

“So the imagination is really the core, the source, the matrix of our multi-dimensional experience.”

“The creative imagination functions in a different way than religious beliefs allow us to engage with.”

“If we’re into integration now, with science and technology, that means that we can’t avoid that skeptical voice [of scientific, existential materialism]. We have engage and learn to integrate that skeptical voice as well. [To think] it’s our job to just say ‘No. Those science people they don’t understand. They’re locked in rationality. It’s actually this mystical world, this magical world’, is a profound failure, in my opinion, of our role. And the more we go into loosy-goosy mystic New Age stuff as a concretized belief system, rather than as an open, playful world that adds richness to our lives the way that poetry does, or the way that religious imagery does, drawing us to those higher realms but holding them lightly so that we can still engage a skeptical materialist, for me, that’s what integration means.”

“The new paradigm is that there’s not a paradigm.”


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Erik Davis’ Web Site: Techgnosis

Posted in Burning Man, Environment, Erik Davis, Imagination, Playalogue and tagged , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Comments from original blog page: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=262

    Thanks for this talk, Mr Davis (and Lorenzo)!

    I really thought it went into some interesting areas, and touched on a few things that are familiar thoughts for me (for example, the idea of the last flickering brain activity being the Final Judgement/Apocalypse/Afterlife).

    Speaking of the imagination as an interface, I was reminded of an article I read online called “Meetings with Imaginal Men” which dealt with the Sufi concept of the imagination, and how that works to connect Man and God/Ultimate Reality.

    I know I had other comments, but I guess I’ll just have to listen to it again to find them.

    Ah, here it is.

    Spirits ’embody’ themselves through imagination. To understand what this embodiment implies, we need to have a clear understanding of imagination’s characteristics, the most outstanding of which is ambiguity, the fact that it escapes the logic of either/or.


    Oh, and on the subject of sacrifice and the roots of religion:


    Fascinating talk. For folks interested in this, I highly recommend James Hillman’s books on the imaginal (start with “Archetypal Psychology”). I see Erik’s comments in the context of Hillman’s discussion of Spirit (airy, abstract, quick) and Soul (earthy, realistic, slow). The psychedelic movement tends to go “spiritual” at the expense of soul bc our culture traditionally tends to interpret anything outside of “straight” consciousness as Spirit. But it doesn’t need to be that way (nor do i think the plants tell us to be that way). Spirit is part of the whole shebang of industrial western situation, the flipside of the grime, with its angelic neutered angels and thin boys who move around alot. But Soul is the funky repressed chaos that is always here but rarely recognized, the old women who take care of the garden, haul the water and make sure lunch is there, who endure these long talks about the future and the golden land with a chuckling humor.

    I see the same Spiritual tendency sometimes in Terence (whose work I deeply love). I think there is a lot of room for the movement to explore what soulful psychedelia looks like and how to let ourselves descend into it. When Erik talks about having to accept no paradigm or the simultaneous validity of different paradigms, I hear that as “accepting loss forever” and growing into a humility and humor that allows us to not be so important and focus on the “here and now” pain of others more.

    Ultimately I suspect there is a role for spirit and soul to play but, from being in psychedelic circles, there are SO many Spririt types, with their ego-centered “egolessness” and energyless “energy” talk that its easy to see a correction is in order.


    i worked on ‘sacrifice’ for a long time – the XII tarot card, and for myself learned that it is ‘inversion’.

    as in odin hanging off yggdrasil to get the runes, and giving up an eye to get ?language, when we invert and put spiritual as our lives’ foundation then there is a profound transformation.

    i don’t understand why it is sacrifice to invert. but i’ve not walked in the shoes of abraham or been asked to give up my child for god.

    it seems that a willingness to give up one’s best is not a sacrifice but a gift yet i lack the words to explain how a voluntary act is not an sacrifical immolation but a celebration. when my brother married i gave the best that i owned to him and his bride for their future child. perhaps, it is only a sacrifice if one is unwilling.

    i’ve always felt that christianity had a huge flaw in it’s emphasis on the crucifixion when it is

    the arisen christ who is the true teacher… entheogenic easter and atlantic ocean speaks

    thank you for the references!


    Die, Flickr, Die. : In Pursuit of Mysteries
    […] then, I leave you with Erik Davis at Burning Man 2007 speaking on “The Imagination and the Environment.” Erik Davis on the Imagination and the Environment [96:18m]: Play Now | Play […]

    This is my first post….. Lorenzo, words cannot describe what these podcasts have done for me and how grateful I am for you taking the time to produce these each week.

    I wanted to comment on Eric’s ideas of sacrifice and a recent “slap me in the face” synchronicity that adds to the long list of strange coincidences I have been experiencing ever since I first “tapped in” (began listening to these podcasts) that, at least to me confirms that yes something profound is taking place right now, something I can’t put a label on or sum up in a few sentences, but what my intuition is telling me is absolutely real.. I found the idea of sacrifice very interesting and have never thought about the subject much before listening to Eric’s talk but the idea that sacrifice is still present in our current society through things like gambling, burning man ext. So that concept has been rolling around my head throughout the days lately, then last night I watch the newest episode of my favorite TV show (the only one I watch on a regular basis) South Park….. WOW! Trey Parker and Matt Stone are social and comedic geniuses! I recommend everyone watch this episode. The idea the episode was based around sacrifice and Britney Spears, and was presenting the notion that human sacrifice is still prevalent today, expect today our human sacrifice takes place by slowly killing young celebrities by watching their every move on TV stations such as E!, magazines ext. and the press obsessively following these young celebrities to the point that it causes them to mentally break down and eventually kill themselves thus feeding our need for human sacrifice. Hopefully that made sense I apologies if not, I am in a hurry to catch my next class as I type this.

    Then today, the day after seeing that episode, I go to my Comparative Governments’ class and my professor has us watch a documentary on the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans. The documentary discusses things such as shamanism the Mayans understanding of time and what else??? HUMAN SACRIFICE!

    Just another of the many synchronicities I am experiencing on a daily basis. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Hmmm, now that’s an interesting thought (that we have new forms of human sacrifice). I hadn’t thought of it in that way before, but it sure does shed some light on one aspect of our compulsion to follow the lives of celebrities. . . . thanks for posting that.

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