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by Archaeology Newsroom

Technology and Magic

Technical means are a roundabout means of securing some desired result. I would like to offer a classificatory scheme of human technological! capabilities in general, which can be seen as falling under three main headings. The first, the “Technology of Production”, comprises technology as it has been conventionally understood. The second, the “Technology of Reproduction”, includes most of what conventional Anthropology designates by the word “kinship”. The third, the “Technology of Enchantment’, is the most sophisticated. It includes all technical strategies, which human beings employ in order to secure the acquiescence of other people in their intentions or projects. Magic is, or was, clearly an aspect of each of the three technologies identified above. I take the view that “magic” as an adjunct to technical procedures persists, because it serves “symbolic” ends, that is to say cognitive ones. The propagandists, image-makers and ideologues of technological culture are its magicians, and if they do not lay claim to supernatural powers, it is only because technology itself has become so powerful that they have no need to do so. And if we no longer recognize magic explicitly, it is because technology and magic, for us, are one and the same.