Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Occult Mind

Lehrich, Christopher I. The Occult Mind: Magic in Theory and Practice.
Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2007.

the historical orientation of philosophy, is it unreasonable to suggest
a wider cast of the net into the deep waters of magic? By encountering
magical thought as theory, we come to a new understanding of a thought
that looks back at us from a funhouse mirror.”—The Occult Mind

like many critical modes, involves reading signs, and magic, more
generally, can be seen as a kind of criticism that takes the
universe—seen and unseen, known and unknowable—as its text. In The
Occult Mind, Christopher I. Lehrich explores the history of magic in
Western thought, suggesting a bold new understanding of the claims made
about the power of various belief systems. In closely interlinked
essays on such disparate topics as ley lines, the Tarot, the Corpus
Hermeticum, writing and ritual in magical practice, and early attempts
to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics, Lehrich treats magic and its parts
as an intellectual object that requires interpretive zeal on the part
of readers/observers. Drawing illuminating parallels between the
practice of magic and more recent interpretive systems—structuralism,
deconstruction, semiotics—Lehrich deftly suggests that the specter of
magic haunts all such attempts to grasp the character of knowledge.

Offering a radical new approach to the nature and value of occult thought,
Lehrich's brilliantly conceived and executed book posits magic as a
mode of theory that is intrinsically subversive of normative
conceptions of reason and truth. In elucidating the deep parallels
between occult thought and academic discourse, Lehrich demonstrates
that sixteenth-century occult philosophy often touched on issues that
have become central to philosophical discourse only in the past fifty

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