May 26th, 2020

Erik Davis – High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies

News on May 26, 2020 from | Psychedelics Today

In this episode, Joe and Kyle interview Erik Davis, Author of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies. In the show they cover topics on La Chorrera, uncertainty, synchronicities and more.

3 Key Points:

  1. Erik is the Author of High Weirdness, a study of the spiritual provocations to be found in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson.
  2. These 3 authors chart the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality that arose from the American counterculture of the 1970s. Erik examines the published and unpublished writings of these thinkers as well as their own life-changing mystical experiences.
  3. Erik is America’s leading scholar of high strangeness, and talks of synchronicities, uncertainty, and all things weird.

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Show Notes About Erik

  • Erik went into the PhD program and always wanted to write about Phillip K Dick
  • He got a sense that he didn’t want to spend 3 years in Phillip’s head
  • He looked into the works of Phillip K Dick, Robert Anton Wilson, The McKenna brothers, etc
    • He wanted to find a way to take their experiences seriously, without taking them literally

La Chorrera

  • Erik says that it’s the great story
    • He says that no one had taken it seriously, and he wanted people to recognize what their work was, which was their experiences
    • Its half science, and half a ritual
    • It was a theater of transformation and novel experience
    • The purpose is to avoid the traps of blaming it on psychosis, and look at it as a creative venture
  • “I think a lot of us wrestling with psychedelics and visionary experiences have our own challenge of, how do we put these pieces together?” – Erik


  • “I want to invite that difficulty in, it’s not always love and light” – Erik
    • When someone is uncomfortable, people just turn away from it, and they just live in this lie 
  • Erik says he blames the culture and capitalist scene
    • Because of uncertainty, there are so many experts ready to sell you something
    • “The people who are seeking, I have more sympathy for. The people that are selling, I have less sympathy for” – Erik
  • “If you keep the balance, you can go pretty far and not fall in” – Erik
  • A lot of conspiracy theorists hand over their sovereign-ness
    • “I know” gives you an answer
    • We have reasons to distrust institutions
  • It’s good to have a dose of skepticism


  • One of the characters in Robert Anton Wilson’s Book, Illuminatus is Saul Goodman
    • In the Breaking Bad series, Saul Goodman is this kind of discordian
  • In Robert Anton Wilson’s Book, Cosmic Trigger, he talks about synchronicities
    • Reason is a way of modulating our pattern recognition
  • We are on a spectrum of pattern recognition
    • If we are below it, we are cold and dull
    • If we have hyper-pattern recognition, it could be psychosis


  • Erik says he can’t write off people like Osho or Crowley
    • Even if they may have caused abuse or bad things, they have done a lot of great things for humanity
  • What’s a cult? Its a creative director who sets the ‘stage’ and script that people learn etc



About Erik Davis

Davis was born during the Summer of Love within a stone’s throw of San Francisco. He grew up in North County, Southern California, and spent a decade on the East Coast, where he studied literature and philosophy at Yale and spent six years in the freelance trenches of Brooklyn and Manhattan before moving to San Francisco, where he currently resides. He is the author of four books: Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica (Yeti, 2010), The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape (Chronicle, 2006), with photographs by Michael Rauner, and the 33 1/3 volume Led Zeppelin IV (Continuum, 2005). His first and best-known book remains TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (Crown, 1998), a cult classic of visionary media studies that has been translated into five languages and recently republished by North Atlantic Press. He has contributed chapters on art, music, technoculture, and contemporary spirituality to over a dozen books. In addition to his many forewords and introductions, Davis has contributed articles and essays to a variety of periodicals. A vital speaker, Davis has given talks at universities, media art conferences, and festivals around the world. He has taught seminars at the UC Berkeley, UC Davis, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and Rice University, as well as workshops at the New York Open Center and Esalen. He has been interviewed by CNN, NPR, the New York Times, and the BBC, and appeared in numerous documentaries. He has hosted the podcast Expanding Mind on the Progressive Radio Network since 2010, and earned his PhD in Religious Studies from Rice University in 2015.

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