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Fulfilling the Sacred Potential of Technology: New Edge Technophilia, Consumerism, and Spirituality in Silicon Valley

Dorien Zandbergen

in Things

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239450
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823239498 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823239450.003.0021

Series: Future of the Religious Past (FUP)

Fulfilling the Sacred Potential of Technology: New Edge Technophilia, Consumerism, and Spirituality in Silicon Valley

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Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay Area, this chapter addresses “New Edge,” a brand of “New Age” spirituality featuring the belief that the New Age can be realized through advanced technologies of the type pioneered in Silicon Valley. Rooted in corporate and academic settings, New Edge originated in the California countercultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s and continues to define itself as countercultural. It understands technology to be sacred, even though its “true potential” (i.e., extending people's senses by helping them to “see more,” “become aware,” “bring out their true selves,” etc.) may remain unfulfilled due to corporate incorporation and commodification. Much like understandings of the Internet by scholars of “cyber-religion” back in the 1990s, then, and despite its keen awareness of the socially constructed nature of things, New Edge is still informed by the technologically deterministic notion that technology has a “true essence.”

Keywords: New Edge; New Age; Silicon Valley; California; Technology; Counterculture; Technological determinism; Essentialism; Social construction of technology

Chapter.  9828 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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