In our second A House with Many Rooms interview, we discuss the intersections between AI and magic with machine learning engineer Karin Valis. Come for the divination, ensouled statues, golems, homonculi, and alphanumeric cosmology, stay for the techno-magical intervention at the end.
Oddcast Episodes Themed "Magic"
We discuss arguably the greatest magical book of the Islamicate tradition, the Shams al-maʿārif al-kubrā or Great Sun of Knowledge. Turns out it isn't by al-Būnī as everyone thought, though there is some Būnī in there; but it has so much to tell us about Islamicate culture, Sufism, and the ‘project of forgetting’ of esoteric Islām among both Muslims and scholars.
We introduce Aḥmad al-Būnī, master sūfī and alphanumeric speculator, but most famous in the Islamicate world as an authority on magic. We sift the wheat from the chaff and get to the bottom of who al-Būnī was, what he really wrote, and what kind of reception he has had, both within and outside of Islam.
We continue our conversation with J.Ā.J. Storm, talking science, magic, religion, and the interrelations between the three of them, the question of assessing advancement in a given context (technological, epistemological, or whatever), and whether modern applied science is really natural magic with a new label (spoiler alert: it is).
We discuss the widespread idea of the ‘disenchantment’ of the modern world – the idea that ‘we don't believe in magic any more’ – with Jason Josephson-Storm. It turns out that the idea is a myth, that the myth is actually a number of complex, interacting myths, and that none of them is empirically-accurate.
We discuss Philippe-Jacques (or ‘Philip James’) de Loutherbourgh, accomplished eighteenth-century painter, polyglot socialite, alchemist, Occultist, healer, and inventor of the cinema.
We speak about illusion, magic, and reality with magical experience designer Ferdinando Buscema. He can make stuff disappear, find your card anywhere in the deck, and read your mind. He is, in short, a magician. But he is also, like Apuleius, Iamblichus, Ficino, and Crowley before him, a philosopher of magic.