REINCANTAMENTO - Open source and work in progress meditation

REINCANTAMENTO


✦ Open source and work in progress meditation on technology

REINCANTAMENTO - Open source and work in progress meditation

A dialogue on
re-enchantment




This conversation was originally streamed on the network Decamerette during the second lockdown in October 2020: here it’s the link to the original conversation in Italian.


Since the nineteenth century, the way we perceive the world has changed. Technology has suddenly made us "disenchanted." Is it time today to return to enchantment?


Hello everybody! Today we want to start this conversation by talking about a very important topic that we hold dear: the idea of re-enchantment. What is re-enchantment? What do we mean when we use this word?

: I'll try to give an initial answer myself, as in the past few months I have begun a long reflection on re-enchantment. First of all, it must be said that "re-enchantment" is a concept that was born out of opposition to a notion that is perhaps better known in the history of philosophy, namely that of disenchantment. Coining this expression-disenchantment of the world-was, initially, the German sociologist and economist Max Weber, in "Science as a Vocation". In this work, Weber associates the technological development of society and the consequent bureaucratization of the world with a change of attitude toward the real: in particular, the loss of a series of bonds and rituals - based on religious, or rather, magical thinking - such as a sense of wonder at the mysteries of the cosmos, in favor of a flattening of the worldview on the concepts of utility and efficiency. One has to be careful, I do not want to question rationality per se; it is obvious that, for example, lightning is generated according to specific chemical and physical processes and not by the will of Zeus; the point is how this new knowledge about nature is then employed. If once knowing the world was for better living, from a certain point on knowledge began to have an organizational-managerial purpose. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger spoke of zu-handenheit in this regard. Here, to finally come back to your question: the re-enchantment is the opposite process of this. So it could be defined as the attempt to develop new , one that is close to all forms of living, and that - this is crucial - remains aware that our theories about the world, and their consequent applications, only grasp a part of reality, leaving out that ineffable element.

: Weber's text, "Science as a Vocation", goes back to a 1917 lecture. A similar reflection is carried on by Husserl, the father of phenomenology, thus in a totally different sphere than Weber, in his 1936 book "The Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology". Here, the basic point of Husserlian theory is precisely that the excessive mathematization of the world, due to the development of the sciences, led to a loss of the life-world, the Lebenswelt, which consequently brought a generalized crisis throughout Europe. Could you point to a precise moment when you think this process of disenchantment began?

: The fault line, in my opinion, was the industrial revolution, particularly the Second Industrial Revolution. We are in the late 1800s. Since that time society has been completely restructured around the capitalist model. It is not that technology was avulsed from capital before, however, the crisis of meaning can be seen mainly in the death of the so-called "old world" ex-feudal, aristocratic ... so many worlds dying, so many forms of life ending. It is no accident that Weber, Husserl, and Heidegger are all thinkers of crisis. The world changed radically during their lives: people were born in a world where there were not even cars, and some of them came to die after the atomic bomb. This is a total paradigm shift. The other event that certainly contributed to the disenchantment was the growing positivist attitude. The point of re-enchantment is not to criticize technology, but the way technical knowledge has organized the city and reality in general. As Heidegger said, we end up being thought of by technology. Thus technological progress has become the new "Western eschatology": history moves with the progress of technology, which will inevitably bring improvements in everyone's living conditions. Of course, some improvements have indeed happened, but we have also lost much in the quality of life. The point of re-enchantment, therefore, is by no means a restoration, but more a finding the conditions of possibility of wonder nowadays: thus developing new practices, and theories, that fall within this "utopian" perspective.

: Speaking of what you say, the words of Italian philosopher Federico Campagna come to mind. In his book "Technic and Magic: The Reconstruction of Reality" Campagna says that Technics has literally shaped our thinking, changing our concepts of "existence" and "causality." While ontologies used to be more or less creative after the industrial revolution theories changed. From that moment onwards, things exist because they are "necessary." They can therefore be exploited, and used, but for what? Campagna intuits that a specific concept of causality is needed to ground such an ontology: things serve, they function because they produce something else. A can produce B, therefore A has the dignity of existence. Causality is reduced to a productive function rather than a creative one, to the reproduction of the existing rather than the appearance of something new. Nature, at this point, no longer exists; metaphysics becomes utilitarian. This is a disenchantment. By losing a concept, we have lost a way of relating to the world, in fact impoverishing the real, the scope of our possible experiences. At this point, however, I would like to put pressure on you and ask: but how do we re-enchant the world? What do we need to do? Should we engage in some form of collective praxis? Or, as Campagna himself seems to suggest, is the secret only in a change of attitude toward the real, in a new way of living my individual life?

: The reference to Campagna is perfect. He defines Technics (with a capital T) as axiomatics of thought. It means that, in a sense, disenchantment has produced a set of unwritten but universally shared rules that parasitize our thinking and tell us what is possible and what is not possible in reality; what can be done and what cannot be done; what can exist and what cannot exist. Campagna makes this very clever comparison with . Let's imagine that we are designing a video game: what rules would we want to put inside that world? Here we are talking about a process of worldbuilding in reality. Obviously, the subject of this process is a collective one, not the four of us in this discussion, nor we philosophers and philosophers, nor politicians. We must include as many entities as possible. Indeed, especially with regard to the "rules" of life forms, these are collectively decided. Today it is not possible to live without working, but this is not a law of nature, it is something that we as a society has decided is not possible. So in a technicist, bureaucratizing view of reality, things end up existing only if they are useful to this process of social organization. But in doing so we are also limiting the possibility. If a particular organization is interpreted as more useful, it is necessary to ask: for whom is it more useful? what is it more useful for? Thus, then, these seemingly abstract thought forms serve as a model, a ground, for political and economic categorizations that have an effect on all of us. Let me give an example: most of the major interventions made on nature - such as oil drilling - have served human beings, to the detriment of all other forms of life. The criterion we have adopted is profit for our specie. But even more, oil, in the long run, has caused pollution, so the criterion really used is the profit for our specie in the present. Thus, Technics has prevented us from even thinking about the future. According to this metaphysics, there is only the present.

: Regarding what you say about the conditions of possibility provided by Technics, it is interesting to reflect on how we humans - or living beings in general - are characterized from this perspective. What do we truly are for Technics? I think in the end, within this paradigm, human beings exist only in the form of what the French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari have called "dividuals," that is, fragments of data that carry information about us. The "data" thus takes the form of the minimum entity of useful information, that is, information that can be exploited - and this is in fact what we see in the society of control. Jumping from the industrial revolution to the present, we can see this paradigm at work in our relationships on the Web. On the Internet we are just data, even our agency is limited to the possibility of offering new information about ourselves, and then being better targeted perhaps by specific advertisements. But how can we get ourselves out of these dynamics? Linking back to what Alessandro was saying, how do we do worldbuilding? In order to think about what another world might be like, we must necessarily have recourse to a radically creative and revolutionary faculty: imagination. Imaginative practices are not limited to the production of images, to art; they also reach into empathy- i magining what it is like to live in someone else's shoes. The faculty of imagining, in this sense, is an extremely productive and therefore subversive faculty. This is because, despite the constraints imposed by Technique, it is difficult to restrict totally free-thinking. Of course, we have to train ourselves to use it, we have to learn to imagine better. But through it, we are able to escape logic, and we can think of alternative future scenarios. Thus, our axiomatics of reality should be based more on the "utopian" possibilities of imagined scenarios. This brings us to an argument made by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who states that imagining the future is a form of resistance, as it is an essentially utopian practice. Here "utopia" is not to be understood as an unattainable future state, but as a concrete trace of radically other possible scenarios.

: In the end, as I understand it, the question of re-enchantment revolves around the loss of a "spiritual" dimension within our lives, whereby spiritual I do not mean religious, but rather I mean a spectrum of phenomena ranging from "wonder" to the search for "meaning." What I mean to say is that in a world that has been made efficient by Technique, there is no room for the radically new. As both Vincenzo and Alessandro point out, disenchantment has first and foremost taken away the future, making existence an eternal present. Now everything is predictable because everything is rigidly organized under precise patterns: the radically new does not exist; consequently, there is no real future. Neither does the pandemic: beyond what is said, it is a risk we have known for decades. The problems of the contemporary world are, for the most part, the same problems as a hundred years ago. In turn, this means that the possibility of wonder is lost: one cannot wonder at repetition; wonder happens only in novelty. Without wonder, meaning is lost: when our lives begin to repeat themselves according to rigid organizations we are stripped of the search for broader meaning, and existence is reduced to a cog in the machine. Our lives also follow the logic of the useful, but a useful that is rarely really useful to the individual. Yet, one cannot really live in nonmeaning. Whatever the French philosophers say, and I am thinking of Camus' philosophy of the absurd, human beings are unable to live without a framework of meaning around them. Thus, we have seen how so many different narratives have been pulled in recent years that have taken on this role of re-axiomatizing the real, most often, however, with a dark outcome. I think, for example, of what QAnon has been. Conspiracy theories are nothing more than clumsy and unconscious attempts to make sense of the senseless again and to re-infuse agency in a naked world. Imagination, in this sense, can help us find better frameworks through which to reassiomatize - and thus re-enchant - reality. The British philosopher Mark Fisher - whom we perhaps quote a little too much here on Speculum! - has argued that emancipatory politics must always destroy the appearance of the natural order, and must reveal that what is presented as necessary and inevitable is a mere contingency, just as it must make what was previously thought impossible seem attainable. The power of imagining a real future, a radically different scenario, is precisely this. Imagination, therefore, is not so much a political practice but is situated in the pre-political, in the conditions of possibility of politics. Today, thinking Utopia, in the sense Vincenzo used this term, is perhaps not even possible-we do not yet have the right categories. Training our imaginative practices is useful precisely in this: by creating new scenarios we generate new forms of thinking through which to re-enchant the world. There may still be a long way to go, but we have to take the first step.

: Surely we can say at this point that re-enchantment begins with a re-calibration of the collective imagination. In this way, new attitudes-both practical and theoretical-of coexistence and acceptance with all existing life forms on the planet would become possible. Above all, however, we should make sure that we accept that despite our scientific discoveries, nature is not under our dominion. Art historian Aby Warburg brought a very interesting case to our attention: that of electricity. A mythical force to say the least in antiquity, electricity is now available to everyone. The advantages are of course undeniable, but at the same time, electricity is simply a possibility in the universe. It does not exist for us; it was not created by us. Re-enchantment should also serve to shift us from the false role of masters of reality that we have assumed, and relocate us within the wonderful network of species with which we share our existence. In a sense then, re-enchantment also hopes for the creation of new mythology -- mythology that is neither religious nor pagan or neo-pagan; but rather mythology that can also include science in a narrative of meaning that is holistic.



: This last point is important to emphasize. Re-enchantment is not a praxis against science; any reading along these lines would be biased. Re-enchantment is a praxis against the model that technology has imposed in organizing our social, political, biological, psychological knowledge, etc.

: But I dare say that re-enchantment is not even a praxis against technique. It is not about abandoning technology, it is simply about restructuring - re-imagining, to stay on topic - our technologies around the needs of nature in order to evoke a desirable future. Let me give a practical example of what we could actually do to subvert the narrative lines we are now being told: change the algorithms that manage feeds in social networks. Today, we are unwitting victims of the rabbit-hole effect: once our tastes and interests have been profiled by the algorithms that populate our web pages, they continue to offer us new content that is more and more radical and more exaggerated in order to keep us hooked on the site. More engagement means more revenue for the platforms. But in the long run, this has a destructive effect on the psyche of users - this is the same mechanism that brought QAnon to popularity. Aristotle proposes a division between and when talking about imagination. The former is the data that experience gives us, while the latter is their re-enactments through the soul, their traces. It seems to me that algorithms are the masters of our imaginative traces and are therefore able to shape us as they wish.

: At this point, I think we have talked enough. The topic of re-enchantment should be at least at first glance clear to everyone. I think it's time then to introduce our guest: Edoardo Camurri.

: Greetings to everyone guys! I must say that I have been following the discussion with incredible interest. So, my idea of re-enchantment has a lot in common with the points you guys have raised. First of all, I would like to highlight some key concepts to try to delimit the space in which we can move, in the research needed for re-enchantment: first, the juxtaposition between big data and dada. Data and dadaism. "Dada" means to make ourselves unrecognizable, in this case with respect to a machine, the algorithmic machine, which instead aims not only to make us more and more recognizable but also to predict us and thus replace us, in a kind of digital vodoo. The other key concept is precisely that of imagination. We have to be careful: it is not simply fantasy or reverie. Imagination is, as the ancients explained - and I refer here to Henry Corbin's studies of Islamic philosophy - first and foremost a world: not simply a faculty of our spirit, but a world that we must re-learn (curious assonance with re-enchant) to inhabit, to know, and to give space to. In the history of ideas, unfortunately, imagination has been somewhat forgotten: if in the 1600s a giant like Giordano Bruno worked only on the world of imagination, and his idea of magic was closely linked to it, at some point imagination disappears from our theories, and is replaced by sensible perception and intellectual abstraction. Corbin, on the other hand, says that imagination is the place where heaven and earth meet, where the concreteness of my sensible perceptions becomes spiritualized, and my abstract thought takes shape through a symbol. That is that place where the signified and the signifier collide for an instant. I think of the Tree of Life or René Daumal's Mount Analogue. Now, the world of imagination must be inhabited with discipline. This is the place where the occult enchantment of the algorithmic machine happens. For what is the Web if not a parody of the traditional imagination? And where is it that this logic happens today if not on the web? So it is in this place that the dark enchantment acts -- forgive me for expressing myself like a character from Lord of the Rings -- that which deprives us of the thought of the new. So it is in this place - on the web - that we must act, with discipline and with study, to change our imagination. Only then could we return to freely inhabit the magical place where everything happens, where heaven and earth meet. This is the perspective on which, in my opinion, re-enchantment must act.

: The dichotomy between data and Dada is very interesting. I would like to go back for a moment to Federico Campagna who, in articulating the metaphysics of Magic [as opposed to Technics, ed.], reiterates the value of anonymity. We have to make ourselves unrecognizable from the gaze whose only purpose is to frame us. The algorithm, if it does not frame us, does not make anything of us. Let me strike a blow in favor of technology: the moment there are tools that allow us to hide our data, and our online traces, we are effectively escaping the utilitarian logic of the machine. So the concept of anonymity goes far beyond the legal concept of privacy because the issue is much deeper. If we do not let these algorithms create our dividuals, we are already taking back our identity from those who want to make a profit by exploiting our mere online existence.

: In fact, one of the biggest risks related to the creation of our dividuals is both cognitive and metaphysical. Through our traces collected online, the algorithmic machine is able to essentialize us. I think of targeting advertisements. This content has a normative and therefore performative dimension on users. Being a user in the so-called "bubble" has a retroactive effect: the content that the algorithm proposes to me based on its predictions, in the long run, influences my psyche and determines my behavior. The individual, thus, suffers and becomes the dividual that the machine has created of him. The algorithm strips users of their agency and replaces it with a fictitious, specially crafted one. The problem is that we are completely unaware of this process, and we do not realize the real effects it has on us. Another function I am thinking of is, for example, the "memories" function of Facebook. Today we are obsessed with consistency. We judge people, politicians, and information, based on their consistency, often even many, many years later. But all this, going back to the point we were making at the beginning, reduces everything to predictability. There is no room for change or growth. Living beings are not meant to be consistent; they are "schizophrenic" streams of information and creativity. "Memories" only force this process of "coherence," the constant comparison with the past prompts the construction of little divergent identities. Consistency creates predictable individuals, and predictable individuals are easy to control.

: The philosopher Nick Land has not yet been quoted, so I will. What you describe is precisely his concept of : a self-fulfilling prophecy. The (false) model the machine has of us becomes true because we are under its influence: it re-tells us, it re-enchants us. But the discourse is much broader: it is not just a matter of having strategies for experiencing the web unrecognizably. Dadaism, versus dataism, must first be found in the construction of ourselves, escaping the narratives that attempt to essentialize us. The risk is not only the "bubble." Let me try to describe for a moment the logical operation of the algorithmic machine: we are constantly releasing data, traces of our presence, which contain all kinds of information about us. Through this data, we are profiled by the various artificial intelligences, which build an image of us, a double of us. The more data we release, the more accurate our double is. So on the one hand we have a stream of data that starts with us and goes to feed the algorithm. On the other hand, another stream of data proceeds from the algorithm to us, in that process that Mark described earlier, which makes us become more and more like the simplified image that the algorithm has of us. In this logic in which we become more and more what the algorithm tells us we must be, based on the data we release, the flow of meaningful data that we can deliver to the algorithm is exhausted at some point because we have become the mirror of the flow that comes from the algorithm. At this moment, it is our double that is more real than we are. There is a perversion of cause-effect relations: one of the pillars of Western metaphysics has been unhinged. The copy becomes the element of agency; the original can no longer do anything. One might say that a practice of psychoanalysis should be done on the algorithmic copy, at this point, rather than on the original. The double has become a digital vodoo. By exploiting this mechanism it is possible to do anything: Marco and Vincenzo talked about it before. The algorithm, acting on the most reptilian, most primitive feelings in the evolutionary history of the brain, such as fear, is able to control users' opinions, pushing them toward plots like QAnon. A brain reprogramming job. This does not mean brainwashing, it is not a conspiracy theory, it does mean, however, an enormous power of influence and conditioning that the owners of mass communication platforms have at the expense of their users. It also means that our possible re-enchantment must deal, first and foremost, with the care of our imagination and freedom, even before the techniques of anonymity. We need to be us Dadaists to live more protected and aware, and to counterattack: to propose other kinds of imagination and narrative than the dominant one.




: There is also an issue related to the alternative mythology and imagery that has been imposed on us and in which we are already immersed all along. When we think of the Internet we are used to thinking of it through a series of immaterial metaphors - the network, the cloud - but we don't really know what these entities are, how they are configured, and where they are. U.S. artist Trevor Paglen 2016 developed an art project where he tried to debunk this view of the web as immaterial. What Paglen did was trace the infrastructure that physically stores and processes our data. The resulting network is an extremely physical one: data centers, trans-oceanic fiber optic cables, and so on. We must learn to think of the internet as primarily a physical structure, with all that follows: pollution, power plays... Also, speaking of anonymity, one cannot ignore the layering between the surface web and the dark web. In the "common" internet, being tracked (and traceable) is a necessary, structural condition. True anonymity is possible only on the dark web, which, however, is a collection of mainly illegal sites, or places where users congregate in nations where the internet is not free.

: Speaking of art and the dark web. I recently saw a digital artwork where the network structure of the universe and the network structure of the web were being compared, and it's amazing but they are isomorphic. Just as only 5 percent of the universe consists of traditional matter and energy, and the remainder is dark matter and energy, the proportions remain identical for the web. Obviously, there is no cause-and-effect relationship between these two mirror images, however, it does solicit our imagination. That is, it solicits analogical thinking, which is a perfect entrance to enter that world of imagination where heaven and earth meet that we were talking about earlier.

: Going back precisely to the talk about imagination as a creative force, as this world where we have the possibility to re-assemble and re-compose. I seem to find in this conception of yours strong references to alchemy as well - one of the attempts in my opinion of re-enchantment that has been enacted in the past. Talking about imagination in these terms immediately makes me think of science fiction. What role does science fiction play in shaping new futures? I think it's a practice that we've become a little too detached from lately. We give a lot of weight to apocalyptic thinking currently, and therefore to dystopias, but there is no real utopian current in science fiction. But also within the history of philosophy in general: there was a time when utopia was at the center of the discourse, it was a philosophical genre, instead starting from a certain point in the 1900s thinking about a new world becomes impossible. If previously imagination was associated with wonder, enchantment, and the production of the new, at a certain point we began to deny even the existence of the imaginative capacity - I'm thinking of behaviorism and Ryle. Nowadays we are catapulted into the midst of dystopia, into the exacerbation of degenerating details. What do you think about that?

: This is where Mark Fisher comes back in some ways. When Mark Fisher writes that the main message of capitalism is that "there is no alternative," he is telling us that capitalism does not conceive of imagination. In short, he is telling us that the story is over. I am interested in bringing Fisher's thoughts into dialogue with the thought of what I think is Hegel's greatest interpreter, Kojève. This philosopher has a most interesting history: a grandson of Kandinsky, he escaped from Russia to graduate from Heidelberg with Karl Jasper, with a thesis on the Russian philosopher Soloviev. Later, he takes two more degrees in Sanskrit and Tibetan; becomes best friends with Leo Strauss; then arrives in Paris and, by chance, from '33 to '39 finds himself teaching the phenomenology of spirit to George Bataille, Raymond Quenau, Jean Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan, Pierre Klossowski, Raymon Aron--in short, the best thinkers of last century studied with him. And Kojève discovers from reading the phenomenology of spirit that the story had ended with Napoleon: man found in the liberal state of the Napoleonic code full satisfaction. The reasons why human beings were born of the animal were exhausted. This is the theoretical framework underlying the impossibility of thinking the new, and thus utopia, and thus science fiction as the ability to prefigure new worlds. From this point of view, Fisher makes an interesting argument in the few fragments we have in the last book he attempted to write before he died, Acid Communism. Fisher relates that in capitalism history is over, and therefore the only thing possible is retromania - the recovery of forms from the past. The exact same thing is there in Kojève: in the world of post-history, we could do nothing but continue to detach forms from past content. However, Fisher adds: that we are indeed condemned to retromania, but the forms of the past have not exhausted all their possibilities. Each past form expressed only one of the many possibilities it had in it. Fisher seems to recover the Darwinian concept of atavism and brings it back from the perspective of the history of ideas. Thus, just as it is possible to revive dinosaurs from birds because they atavistically contain the genetic information of dinosaurs, we can culturally go and reactivate moments in past history that have not perfectly expressed their full potential and revive them. We have to work on atavism. And Fisher had identified this atavistic element in the American psychedelic counterculture season. There lies a possibility of breaking the logic of capitalism. This is where science fiction fits in: much of this strand constructs uchronies. The uchrony is an attempt to reincarnate the past-a brutal attempt yes, full of mistakes-but an attempt to rewrite the past nonetheless. Be careful that rewriting the past is not the prerogative of totalitarian states; liberation forces can do it as well. Through this rewriting one can try to reactivate certain discourses that that same past had failed to fully develop. The psychedelic discourse is a perfect example, I think. Psychedelia offers us countless supports and stimuli to address the discourse of re-enchantment.

: Very interesting what you say. We, with our project Philosophy from the Future, have often dealt with de-extinction, that is, the idea that it is possible to bring back to life species that are now extinct through complex biological techniques. What you propose seems to me to be a kind of cultural de-extinction, where forms of thought that have been lost without being able to fully develop their utopian potential are forcibly brought back into being, de-extinct in fact, to take back the future from "lost futures." Take back the past to which we are condemned because of capitalist realism and re-chain it against the present.

: Exactly! A kind of Jurassic Park of ideas!



: We are entering Walter Benjamin's area here: redeeming and reactivating the past - this is Benjamin's Angelus Novus. Even Fisher, who initially despised certain subcultures such as hippie, probably because he was tied to currents closer to punk or electronica, later in his career recognized the potential to redeem that past, to redeem psychedelic power. This paradigm seems to me incredibly fruitful for understanding the idea of re-enchantment - re-enchantment. There is a "re" in front that might suggest restoration. The point is not to restore - I was talking about it once with Marco while we were walking - there is no nostalgia in the concept. There is no appeal either to a mythical past or to a simpler or more organic ancient world. We are in an anti-nostalgic perspective, we are in an age eager for the future and utopias. The point, however, is to reactivate forces and reuse them, and put them back into play in the contemporary world. Bringing back Islamic ideas as Corbin does, or bringing back Dada - which might seem like a vanguard that has run its historical course - turns out to be incredibly fruitful ideas of devastating relevance.

: I would like to add a brief note. If we start to object that any return to the past is nostalgic, if we think of nostalgia as a negative concept, we are still in capitalist realism, that is, the logic according to which we arrange things on a classical timeline, whereby ideas must always be new otherwise they are worthless. This is the technical metaphysics you were talking about at the beginning, this is the sick idea of progress, this is the propaganda of capitalist realism. I think we have to give a damn about these categories and these rules, and do with the past and the present what we like. Even in a very barbaric way, with discipline yes, but powerful. Hugo Ball, the founder of Dadaism along with Tzara, said that the real meaning of the word "dada" was "Dionysius the Aeropagite" and then he wrote a beautiful book about Byzantine Christianity [available in German and Italian ed.] where he recounts the life of Dionysius the Aeropagite. This book seems to be written in the 6th century AD. Ball succeeded in reactivating those original forms, in the name of immense discipline, profound study, and rigorous seriousness always held true to the breakthrough promises of Dadaism. A genius like Ball sought to counter the logic of World War I through iron discipline and deep study of late Neoplatonic philosophy. All of this is wonderfully unrecognizable. Where is the algorithm capable of holding together, of predicting, Hugo Ball? These examples, too, must enchant us, and then try to re-enchant the world.

: But what trends to repurpose? How to reorient the re-enchantment? Is nothing real and everything permissible, or is there a logic--better, an ethic--to which we should adhere? What narratives might we dredge up? I personally am a bit skeptical about the word "narrative." I think it is a category that belongs to the "propaganda of capitalist realism," to use the expression you used earlier, Edoardo. A narrative is a way of telling the reality that changes our perception of it without affecting its substance in the slightest. In this sense, a narrative is an illusion, a red herring. I prefer the Marxian term praxis. What practices, then, to recover from the past? Along these lines, the first example that comes to mind is Russian Cosmism. A highly visionary philosophy, it saw the future and utopia as the true fulfillment of the human being. A philosophy so far ahead of its time that its potential remains untapped and will remain untapped for thousands more years. A central theme of this thought is the transformation of all the -logics into -urgies, that is, of theoretical studies into practical resolutions. Knowing means interacting, theoresis means praxis, and imagining means creating. This yes conflicts with the assumption that human beings are not the masters of nature, but it is a conflict in my opinion that is fully resolvable. The cosmists believed that action is a creative capacity. Through praxis you can do anything: this idea is deeply political and deeply akin to re-enchantment. Besides, their images were out of this world: Fyodorov hoped for the resurrection of all creatures that had ever existed so that they too could rejoice in the post-revolution world since it was unfair that people who had died before the arrival of utopia could not be part of it; Tsiolkovsky proclaimed a process of cosmic refinement through which human beings would inhabit infinite worlds, infinite planets, encountering infinite other life forms that would show them joy; Vernadsky spoke of panpsychism and collective minds... in short, an inexhaustible form factory.

: In my opinion, in recovering past trends, philosopher Paul Feyerabend's principle applies: anything goes. We here have to start unleashing the imagination, and we cannot propose to anyone who wants to try to re-enchant the world of constraints, of rules. There is not, so to speak, a Central Committee of Re-enchantment. Otherwise, the bad guys will win. The dark re-enchantment of the algorithmic machine already works that way: they have far fewer biases than we do and it has worked, let's do it too then, without getting lost in unnecessary fears. Let's bring different re-enchantments into play. The Cosmist example is great. Who is, today, closest to the Russian cosmists? The transhumanists in Silicon Valley. They are the ones who hold most of the technologies today. Yet, ideologically, Silicon Valley thinking is about as far removed from the political thinking of cosmism as you can get. The issue is one of Wirkungsgeschichte, of virtue history. Let's give a damn about ethical-moral issues, different starting points, what matters is the fact. Then you can discuss whether they are doing it in an emancipatory sense or not, but meanwhile, they are doing it. To me personally, one of the things that are of most interest, which I feel is one of the most fruitful parts of this reflection is really the psychedelia, the psychedelic renaissance.

: Here, let's talk about psychedelia. This topic is of great interest to us as well. I was reading, a while ago, an article in the New York Times perhaps, about how psychedelics can be used to change people's political opinion. The psychedelic experience can be really intense, and once it's over we continue to carry with us what we've seen and experienced. So this can trigger a profound change in people, making them radically different-both in their political thinking and especially in the shape of their lives. How do approach this phenomenon? is it to be understood as something emancipatory or disturbing?

: The concern about psychedelics radically altering our being-and that this thing is bad-starts from the idea that we are autonomous and, so to speak, pure and unconditioned individuals, perpetually in control of ourselves, our thoughts, our feelings; and then a bad outside world comes along and conditions us, and so we have to protect ourselves. But this is an abstraction. We are always, we, thrown into the world, Heidegger said. We are already always conditioned, we are spoken by a language, by a tradition. Every time we have an intellectual or sentimental experience an important modification happens. We should not even go to school then, because education can also radically change our lives. We would not be what we are if in our lives we had not encountered books, music, movies, people who made us the way we are. So, the problem is not there: we are already always conditioned by something external. So, the real interesting step to take would be to start conceiving of pharmacology no longer as a discipline about health or chemistry, but pharmacology as a political category. Today, there is a massive spread of psychotropic drugs - primary care physicians prescribing Xanax to people who are a little bit sad - we have a cocainized society in many respects...and we cannot help but think that these two drugs do not condition the mind and therefore the mood of politics. In fact, look at the case that the winning politics at least in the Western world is a politics based on anxiety, fear, and performance. These are the basic elements that revolve around Xanax and Cocaine. Even we who don't take psychotropic drugs, who don't take cocaine, live in a world conditioned by these substances. It's kind of like saying, "I don't watch commercial television"- even if you don't watch it you are being watched because the world is conditioned by that imagery there, which colonizes our minds. We are always colonized. So the idea here is that the psychedelic drug is a completely different drug than these and that among other things is at the origin of the birth of the Web as we know it. This is interesting: it is the primal element even in the birth of the algorithmic machine. Psychedelia does not make you "leftist" or "ecologist"-whatever those things mean. Rather, it is a super accelerator of your deep identity. Various research on psilocybin use, through the use of MRIs, has seen what happens to our brains as we use these substances: the filter activities that organize everyday sensory and intellectual experience are suspended, and then the brain starts to move, looking for new neural pathways, new possible connections. And this is something that seems decisive to me because it means equipping our brains to deal with themes and issues that require new complexity. It means practicing what Rimbaud said, the reasonable uncluttering of all the senses, which is one of the gateways to try to give substance to those instances of unrecognizability and rediscovery of oneself. So it is an attempt to access that world of imagination that we were talking about at the beginning, with which to hold up to the shock of these times. So by studying psychedelia, by studying the history of algorithmic technologies-a profoundly psychedelic history, because the two actors in the field are on the one hand the military, and therefore the control, the order the discipline; and on the other hand the counterculture, the liberators-you work on the moment of origin, and what it represented and what utopian or dystopian visions were concealed at that moment. The important thing is to approach these issues with great discipline. Then again, in the psychedelic tradition, you find figures such as shamans, mystics, and psychonauts... mystics, and psychonauts have similar experiences: they come out of the cave, go beyond the mirror, access a magical world, derive meanings from it, and then - like Bodhisattva, or like the character in the cave myth - they go back and try to re-enchant the world from there. Reading James Joyce's Ulysses changed my life. After reading it, I became different, it was a psychedelic experience for me: I had access to a world of imagination from which then there was no going back. And that changed everything. The key is to find the doors of perception, entry points to break through the filter that organizes our experience so that we can access a world of new meanings.

: Incidentally, we know from neuroscience, that these changes are real, they leave traces in our brains and bodies. Studies on plasticity clearly show how the brain more than an organ is a process, constantly evolving. Contemporary philosophers speak of it as mind-shaping; ancient ones spoke of participation. I think this phenomenon also tells us a lot about the categories that philosophy has always used to interpret reality: idealism and realism are insufficient. The world is neither a static, mind-independent entity as realism wants, nor a completely immaterial, will-dependent entity as idealism wants. Rather, it is a melange, of minds and matter interpenetrating and modifying each other. Therefore, I return to a point we were making at the beginning, it is important to marvel at the incredible metaphysical scope of praxis. Agency is the real mystery of the cosmos. The philosopher Ernst Bloch said that only Marx really understood the real metaphysical scope of agency.

: This is wonderful! If experiences really change our brains then reading a dada book is like having Hugo Ball in your head! You break the connections! There is a classic example: cocaine creates a groove in the cocaine addict's brain, and you become obsessed and paranoid... psychedelia, on the other hand, acts in the opposite way. It is not an attractor, but it is divergent: it seeks new paths and new connections. A great figure in twentieth-century psychedelia is Amanda Fielding, who now funds psychedelic studies at Imperial College London. Fielding always showed this image: a go game board with a bottle of LSD on it. The game of go is a very old game, even older than chess, and it has incredible complexity - Geroges Perec wrote wonderful books about the game of go. What does it have to do with psychedelia? Fielding often played against go champions after microdosing LSD, and almost always won, because the substance acted on his perception of complexity. This is all very interesting. So the disciplined study of the pharmacology of reality also acts on our political life, where the messages of the algorithmic machine favor fear, and drives, we must have a luminous awareness.

: The invitation that emerges from our conversation is to reappropriate Technics, through various tools - which we could encapsulate under the term "Magic," to stay true to the tradition of Federico Campagna. Unpredictability and imponderability are characteristics that allow us to overcome the algorithm. Another thing, however, that is very important to me are the different implications that the discourse on psychedelics has on the construction of the human being. Huxley talked about narcotic drugs enslaving and psychedelic drugs being able to take back one's images. It seems to me that we are now moving toward a kind of psychedelic enlightenment, where the human being takes back his own tools to think himself beyond. In my opinion, it is not only important to take back the tools to get there, but also the knowledge about those tools. You Edward rightly mentioned pharmacology, I can also think of endocrinology as discussed by the philosopher Helen Hester in Xenofemminism It's a momentous transition, these techniques are internal opportunities to re-enchant all of science.

: I would also like to add: that we need to make knowledge processes public. Very often not only is information about science or something else segregated from the general public -- I'm thinking of the cost of academic publications but also the cost of accessing information -- but also the ways of knowing are inaccessible absolute epistemic injustice.

: The right to knowledge should be one of the fundamental rights, indeed. I think of the Luca Coscioni Association, the activism of Marco Cappato.

: Going back to Vincenzo's talk, we should think about a pharmaco-politics. Our society is already totally altered. So we need to find our own medicine, and use of substances to dissolve the inevitability of the world. I think this is why Fisher uses acid communism as the antithesis of capitalist realism. The psychedelic power is to show contingency. The psychedelic experience is one of profound realization of the contingency of the world, and for that then also of their great value. The speech may sound naive, but thaumazein, the psychedelic wonder, is the simple wonder of things existing. This is the ineffable value, of existence. Re-enchantment is also an awareness of the value of existence, beyond easy rhetoric that has been built on these premises. Let me also add something about Gilles Deleuze: in the Abecedary, for the letter "G," he talks about gauche, left. Deleuze, in particular, says that the left is a matter of perception: to be leftist is to perceive the border before the territory around us. This is how psychedelia works: it widens the doors of our consciousness beyond the proximity of the body to reach far away, to what seems irrelevant or unimportant in our lives, and then it allows us from there to go back all the way to us. Thus we begin to feel even distant things as close, and that is the point of preserving the various forms of existence: it is a matter of sensation.

: Awe and wonder, yes, it's all there! It's the same reason why we gathered, this Sunday, to talk about our ideas, our passions... because it all gives us happiness! It gives us wonder! There have been days, afternoons, nights, when each of us with our friends, girlfriends, alone in the house looking at the stains on the ceiling... we have thought about these things and we have been astonished and amazed, we have felt joy. This primal feeling is everything. There is a beautiful lecture by Aldous Huxley called "Why are precious stones precious?" Huxley tries to answer this Zen question by saying that the issue is not economic. Precious stones are precious because they shine, and the human being is attracted to this in a primal way, because the human being retains, in the depths of his soul, the memory of a bright and shining world. Gemstones are a mnemoneuma of another reality to which we had access and from which we fell. This Gnostic vision, this acid Gnosticism, goes hand in hand with Fisher's acid communism. As Aristotle said, wonder is at the beginning of philosophy, and it is at the beginning of all reflection.