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Magic: A History de Chris Gosden
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Magic: A History (edició 2021)

de Chris Gosden (Autor)

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1676147,820 (3.95)3
An Oxford professor of archaeology explores the unique history of magic--the oldest and most neglected strand of human behavior and its resurgence today Three great strands of belief run through human history: Religion is the relationship with one god or many gods, masters of our lives and destinies. Science distances us from the world, turning us into observers and collectors of knowledge. And magic is direct human participation in the universe: we have influence on the world around us, and the world has influence on us. Over the last few centuries, magic has developed a bad reputation--thanks to the unsavory tactics of shady practitioners, and to a successful propaganda campaign on the part of religion and science, which denigrated magic as backward, irrational, and "primitive." In Magic, however, the Oxford professor of archaeology Chris Gosden restores magic to its essential place in the history of the world--revealing it to be an enduring element of human behavior that plays an important role for individuals and cultures. From the curses and charms of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish magic, to the shamanistic traditions of Eurasia, indigenous America, and Africa; from the alchemy of the Renaissance to the condemnation of magic in the colonial period and the mysteries of modern quantum physics--Gosden's startling, fun, and colorful history supplies a missing chapter of the story of our civilization. Drawing on decades of research around the world--touching on the first known horoscope, a statue ordered into exile, and the mystical power of tattoos--Gosden shows what magic can offer us today, and how we might use it to rethink our relationship with the world. Magic is an original, singular, and sweeping work of scholarship, and its revelations will leave a spell on the reader.… (més)
Membre:saintloe
Títol:Magic: A History
Autors:Chris Gosden (Autor)
Informació:Picador Paper (2021), Edition: Reprint, 512 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Valoració:
Etiquetes:History

Informació de l'obra

Magic: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present de Chris Gosden

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It has useful information. Reads much like a history textbook. Because the author is not pagan or a believes in the idea of it (assumingly) feels very drawn out. It can be a resource for Pagans,witches, and wiccans looking back at the origins and history of the life. I at this time could not find a reason to want to read it. Very much skimmed it focusing more on Chapter 8 The magics of Africa..., 10. Modern and future magic,and the timeline global history of magic. I felt that there was a lot missing. From the known and unknown knowledge. A lot of key PWW were mentioned and referenced. Over all the book is average and without all the fact and data below average for me. Maybe when I am older and trying to piece together my lineage it would be useful but for now it was not. Also a lot of the caribbeans and islands where not really mentioned only three times. ( )
  Lavender3 | Dec 21, 2022 |
This is not a book about magic as entertainment. There is no discussion of stage magicians, illusionists or masters of sleight-of-hand. This is a book about how magic allows humans to understand how they fit into the world and how they can influence the part they play in it. Our earliest archaeological finds suggest that magic has been part of the human experience from the start.

From the earliest times humans have seen themselves as living within a greater whole, both as part of the physical world of things (animate or not) and as part of a more extended world where all things (animate, once animate, or not) have a spirit with which we can communicate through appropriate procedures (spells) and processes (rites) for good or ill. As society became more complex the individualistic approach to magic was gradually replaced with a more formalised structure loosely called religion where others (gods, a priestly caste) interceded with the universe on one’s behalf. That in turn was gradually replaced with science which essentially put the human element outside of any interaction with the universe (that comet is either going to hit or miss the Earth whether humans are here and interested or not). Of course, as Gosden shows, the lines between magic, religion and science are very blurred and overlap hugely.

This is an excellent book which addresses a fascinating topic on the largest of scales - the whole of human history. Gosden’s propositions and observations are based solid evidence and inferences are clearly stated. For me, the writing is a little too dry and academic, but the extra effort required is well rewarded. ( )
  pierthinker | Oct 27, 2022 |
The History of Magic is a fascinating read that describes magic as part of a "triple helix" of three basic human ways of perceiving and interacting with the world, the other two being religion and science. Considerably longer, denser, and more scholarly than I was expecting, this book was a bit dry at times and almost overwhelming in scope: Gosden attempts to cover all of human history (the subtitle says "from the Ice Age", but parts of the book go earlier than that - he even touches on the Neanderthals) and every major part of the world. Gosden defines magic fairly broadly (as human beings participating directly in the universe, and being shaped by that universe in turn) and hence includes some activities that not all people might have thought of as magic. He reveals that magic has always been an integral part of all human societies (even our modern Western one) and, far from being a collection of superstitious, primitive, and backward beliefs and practices, is an essential and important mindset for our modern time, helping us to live in better relationship with the rest of the world. Recommended, especially for Gosden's respectful attitude towards various magical practices and his recognition of the influence of colonialism on magic and culture. ( )
1 vota Heather39 | Jul 11, 2022 |
It’s an anthropological study of early magic, defined as a method of participation “in the universe directly, and the universe influences and shapes us.” This may seem vague, but it’s a necessary, objective approach. According to Gosden, while magic arrived first, the trifecta of magic, religion and science have overlapped over time. Under each are the possible subcategories of transcendence, transformation and transaction. Magic was/is practiced in many forms: relationship or protective magic, foretelling or understanding the past, death or sickness, alchemy or manipulating desire.

In the Paleolithic era, “art helped to honor, maintain, and manipulate” animals without actual worship and eventually “rituals were developed to link dead humans and animals to the living.” But this does not constitute religion, and those buried with various animals parts were not necessarily a “shaman.” The reader learns that shamanism is incredibly specific and shouldn’t be a throwaway label. It was only around 8,000 years ago that formal religion emerged. Mesopotamia and Egypt then created elaborate cosmotheologies. Hemerology, the Scythians, early Celts, Jewish, Greek, Roman, African and Native American practices are also examined.

Issue is, the premise is only solid into the Middle Ages. The practice of magic is “suggested" until that point (besides Egypt), and not for lack of trying. For example, Gosden successfully introduces the Zhou and Han dynasties in China, but struggles to incorporate yin and yang philosophy. However, the archaeological evidence is clear that early peoples were much more sophisticated and in-tune with their environment than they’re often given credit for. I’m now fascinated with early Eurasian Steppe art and “deer statues” and I appreciate the author’s first-hand knowledge and obvious passion for this subject. ( )
1 vota asukamaxwell | May 7, 2022 |
The author's thesis is that magic, religion, and science are three equal parts of a triple helix, all work together, and all are equally necessary for a healthy world view. He does a superb job of defending that thesis via a survey of worldwide practices throughout history and how magical, religious, and scientific thought co-evolve over time. The book culminates in a strong argument that more magical (i.e. participatory) views need to be reincorporated into modern Western scientific and religious viewpoints in order to combat the current ecological disaster. The author does a phenomenal job of reframing magical practices, often seen as silly and unscientific, as legitimate and logical methods of trying to understand the world and humans' place in it. ( )
1 vota hissingpotatoes | Jan 23, 2022 |
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Wikipedia en anglès

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An Oxford professor of archaeology explores the unique history of magic--the oldest and most neglected strand of human behavior and its resurgence today Three great strands of belief run through human history: Religion is the relationship with one god or many gods, masters of our lives and destinies. Science distances us from the world, turning us into observers and collectors of knowledge. And magic is direct human participation in the universe: we have influence on the world around us, and the world has influence on us. Over the last few centuries, magic has developed a bad reputation--thanks to the unsavory tactics of shady practitioners, and to a successful propaganda campaign on the part of religion and science, which denigrated magic as backward, irrational, and "primitive." In Magic, however, the Oxford professor of archaeology Chris Gosden restores magic to its essential place in the history of the world--revealing it to be an enduring element of human behavior that plays an important role for individuals and cultures. From the curses and charms of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish magic, to the shamanistic traditions of Eurasia, indigenous America, and Africa; from the alchemy of the Renaissance to the condemnation of magic in the colonial period and the mysteries of modern quantum physics--Gosden's startling, fun, and colorful history supplies a missing chapter of the story of our civilization. Drawing on decades of research around the world--touching on the first known horoscope, a statue ordered into exile, and the mystical power of tattoos--Gosden shows what magic can offer us today, and how we might use it to rethink our relationship with the world. Magic is an original, singular, and sweeping work of scholarship, and its revelations will leave a spell on the reader.

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