This collection of essays considers the place of magic in the modern world, first by exploring the ways in which modernity has been defined in explicit opposition to magic and superstition, and then by illuminating how modern proponents of magic have worked to legitimize their practices through an overt embrace of evolving forms such as esotericism and supernaturalism.
Taking a two-track approach, this book explores the complex dynamics of the construction of the modern self and its relation to the modern preoccupation with magic. Essays examine how modern “rational” consciousness is generated and maintained and how proponents of both magical and scientific traditions rationalize evidence to fit accepted orthodoxy. This book also describes how people unsatisfied with the norms of modern subjectivity embrace various forms of magic—and the methods these modern practitioners use to legitimate magic in the modern world.
A compelling assessment of magic from the early modern period to today, Magic in the Modern World shows how, despite the dominant culture’s emphatic denial of their validity, older forms of magic persist and develop while new forms of magic continue to emerge.
In addition to the editors, contributors include Egil Asprem, Erik Davis, Megan Goodwin, Dan Harms, Adam Jortner, and Benedek Láng.
About the Author
Randall Styers is Associate Professor of Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of Making Magic: Religion, Magic, and Science in the Modern World.
Table of ContentsContents
Introduction, Edward Bever and Randall Styers
Magic and the Making of Modernity
Chapter 1, “Bad Habits, or, How Superstition Disappeared in the Modern World,” Randall Styers
Chapter 2, “Descartes’ Dreams, the Neuropsychology of Disbelief, and the Making of the Modern Self,” Edward Bever
Chapter 3, “Why Magic Cannot Be Falsified by Experiments,” Benedek Láng
Chapter 4, “Witches as Liars: Witchcraft and Civilization in the Early American Republic,” Adam Jortner
Magic in Modernity
Chapter 5, “Loagaeth, q consibra a caosg: The Contested Arena of Modern Enochian Angel Magic,” Egil Asprem
Chapter 6, “Babalon Launching: Jack Parsons, Rocketry, and the ‘Method of Science,’” Erik Davis
Chapter 7, “Manning the High Seat: Seidr as Self-Making in Contemporary NorseNeopaganisms,” Megan Goodwin
Chapter 8, “Reviving Dead Names: Strategies of Legitimization in the Necronomicon of Simon and the Dark Aesthetic,” Dan Harms
List of Contributors