I ended a talk in Manchester a few years ago with this:
Magic is our language and our story, and we can’t ride the ghost train into a future of haunted machines without them.
I can add something new to that thought. Myth is the carrier wave of civilisation. Put simpler: astrology leads to astronomy leads to navigation. Embedded in the former are the conditions for the latter. This comes to me from STAR SHIPS by Gordon White, a book I read some years ago and is still haunting me to the point where I’m still referencing it today.
He speculatively reconstructs ancient belief systems and applies them to a broader-scale investigation of the emergence of humans from Africa. His background is in data analysis, I believe, and he combines being wild-eyed with being clear-eyed in a remarkable, entertaining and thought-provoking way.
I seem to recall saying to someone, “I just want to read something that will freak my shit out,” and mythemes from the Laurasian landmass informing intellectually advanced pockets in Micronesia were really just the top of this slide. White is careful about his own solves, scathing about the woolly-mindedness of others, almost completely skates around ancient-alien bullshit, and builds his speculations as clearly and solidly as he can. It’s a marvellous piece of work – it delights, informs, provokes and freaks your shit out.