Philosopher, songwriter, record producer, TV personality and religious and political activist, Sweden’s one and only Alexander Bard.
You recently released your new book Syntheism – Creating God in the Internet Age. Please tell us a little bit about Syntheism!
Syntheism was born at the Burning Man festival in the US. The idea is that we need, and to some extent, already are practicing a new religion beyond both atheism and individualism, ideals which we have lived with during the past 300 years. The individual is dead, now it’s all about the sacred swarm. This spirituality has nothing to do with Christianity, Humanism or New Age and is instead something completely new. Participatory festivals such as Burning Man are examples of Syntheism but it is also possible to argue that interactivity on the Internet is a form of religious practice in itself. According to Syntheists, the defense of a free and open Internet therefore becomes, not only a political, but also very much a religious issue. It is easy to associate both the pirate movement and the environmental movement to Syntheism.
How do Syntheists reflect upon death?
When we die, we simply return to the state we were before we were born. Life is best described as a tiny fluctuation in the big course of events which we can call history or the Universe. Syntheism is unlike both old religions and humanism, a universocentric and not an antropocentric religion. It does not emanate from the individual human being but from the Universe as a whole because the Universe and God, according to Syntheism, are one and the same thing. We humans are subordinate universes. There is something much greater than ourselves in which we are included. We are each and every one of us as dividuals (rather than individuals) an expression of the Universe’s enormous creativity. It is in this understanding and not in any competition against each other, we obtain our syntheistic self-esteem.
I recently received mail from a deceased friend, whose mail account obviously had been hacked. How will it work in the future with all the Facebook pages and mail accounts from the deceased that stay present after their passing?
It is really up to Facebook and other platforms how they want to deal with this problem. For my own part I see no reason why we would need to, so to say, ‘clean away’ people from the virtual world when they die. For unlike conventional cemeteries, there is an unlimited space on the internet and we can in principle allow all people to live on online in all eternity. And why not? Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to follow your great-grandfather or great-grandmother on your mother’s side and their thoughts throughout their life with images and quotes? This will also change our perception of death. We are still burying bodies but not people. It will be interesting to see exactly how this will develop.
Words and interview by Petter Wallenberg for Mums #5/grolschstudios.se, edited by Gustav Bagge.
“Syntheism – Creating God in the Internet Age” by Alexander Bard & Jan Söderqvist is out now on Stockholm Text/Bookmark Förlag.