During the past year I have been dipping into Erik Davis‘ Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica for pieces of brilliant writing on the most exciting, strange and baffling elements of culture. Erik has an incredible knack for exploring a huge range of topics and it’s always a pleasure to be exposed to his take on any subject. Nomad Codes is filled with delightfully insightful and eloquently expressed looks at disparate topics such as entheogens, Buddhism, weird fiction, eclectic music, Ufology, cults and pop culture.
Whether his subject is collage art or the “magickal realism” of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, transvestite Burmese spirit mediums or Ufology, tripster king Terence McKenna or dub maestro Lee Perry, Davis writes with keen yet skeptical sympathy, intellectual subtlety and wit, and unbridled curiosity. The common thread running through all these pieces is what Davis calls “modern esoterica,” which he describes in his preface as a “no-man’s-land located somewhere between anthropology and mystical pulp, between the zendo and the metal club, between cultural criticism and extraordinary experience, whether psychedelic, or yogic, or technological.” Such an ambiguous and startling landscape demands that the intrepid adventurer shed any territorial claims and go nomad. Davis wanders with sharp eyes and an open mind, which is why Peter Lamborn Wilson calls him “the best of all guides to modern American spirituality.