Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: Entirely Too Many Updates!: New Videos, Essays, & Scientific Illustrations

01 April 2011

Entirely Too Many Updates!: New Videos, Essays, & Scientific Illustrations

"As the medium through which a galactic order of evolutionary intelligence interacts with and ultimately transforms the material processes and organic expressions of the Earth, the noosphere is not restricted to a limited rationality or a linear either/or meaning. Instead, once we align with the noosphere, we will perceive and know radially. We will experience everything as multiple sets of correspondences that link everything to everything else in a synchronically harmonized multidimensional universe."
- Jose Arguelles

"Too Many Updates." This is the reason attached to about half of the notifications I get when someone unsubscribes from this newsletter...

It all started as an attempt to spread the updates more evenly, to mete them out week by week instead of dumping them all at once on rarer occasion. But some people don't seem to like that. In this age of accelerating future shock, it seems like frequency is more of a problem than depth; after all, it's not about volume or content, but the gross number of unread messages in your inbox.

So now I'm experimenting with a return to form. This monster newsletter is a brushfire clearing the undergrowth for new saplings. It is a binge of expression, months in the making...and in the spirit of our current Retrograde Mercury, it is a blessedly clumsy effort to tie up loose ends, learning from what I have left behind half-cooked and neglected.

It is entirely too much new media to digest in one sitting, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry! But I'm also freaking excited to share all of this with you...blessed to have so much worth sharing.

So enjoy the electronic tome before you...mark as "unread" and return to it later...let your intuition guide you through the overwhelm to those bits that will speak to you most clearly and offer you the most insightful reflections. Consider it a soul bonfire buffet: All You Can Eat, baby. Keep coming back until you've had your fill.

Just don't forget to chew.

..:: Music ::..

I have a special treat for you guys this week. My friend, long-time digital pioneer Ken Scott, just released Harmony – a delicious music visualization program that functions more as active instrument than passive translator.

Ken's goal is to put ridiculous creative control at the fingertips of every person on the planet, effectively toppling the media plutocracy...and as an early demonstration of his potent synaesthetic software, he's rendered the title track from my latest cyber-acoustic guitar album, The Body Electric, in vivid throbbing psychedelic detail:

Watch it in HD on Youtube / Download this track free

Just to be clear, this isn't another iTunes visualizer...every variable can be hand-tweaked to create a living, breathing work of visual art from the music itself as it's happening. You can learn how it works here. It's a perfect creative counterpart to my own boundary-mocking explorations of the acoustic guitar's full cyborg potential (...which are, by the way, still free as a bird at MichaelGarfield.net).


My fingerstyle anthem "The Sun Setting," leading into improvised acoustic loopscape "Foyer," at Austin's Art Outside Festival (23 October 2010). It's a rebuke to "spiritual bypassing" – the belief that meditation, prayer, or other practices will allow you to escape from your self. On the contrary, they tend only to make a person's issues worse – cloaked under a guise of spiritual purity, where they are invisible and inaccessible to the only one who can do anything about them.

This is how I rock about that.

My avant-guitar opus "You Don't Have To Move" at 11:11 Wellness in Boulder, Colorado (11 February, 2011). "You Don't Have To Move" is a taoist pop song written on a trampoline at Burning Man 2008 – a pronoiac reminder that when we get out of the way of ourselves, marvelous things occur. "8:33," the half-improvised coda that grew out of "Move" at Rootwire Festival 2010, is a programmatic journey through the apocalypse...and out the other side.

This song is, in eight short minutes, a compendium of every f*cking thing I have learned can be done with a guitar.


In a fit of impassioned manifesto-channeling rapture over St. Patrick's Day weekend, I wrote the most popular essay I've ever published: "The Problem – & Promise – of Festivals." It immediately sprouted over 160 comments on the Facebook note where I let it loose, marshaling both bountiful praise and bilious criticism. Whatever else might be said about it, this essay definitely elicited powerful emotional responses.

It is the crystallization of my deeply held convictions about how exactly I am serving my own soul purpose by working within festival culture – why I don't see what I do as escapist or naïve, but a potent and directed attempt to participate in the co-creation of a saner world by leveraging the unique opportunities of entertainment media to inspire people into conscious engagement as agents of a truly transcendent collaborative evolutionary (ad)venture.

But no picture is complete without its shadows, and I also see the incredible potential of many festivals today squandered by exploitation and ravenous consumer culture...

Here are the opening strains. I highly encourage you to join the conversation and leave your own remarks on Facebook after reading. The best part of this has been the discussion:

Someone I had once called a friend, whose work I consider extremely important but whose attitude I find tiresome and counterproductive, recently wrote to me:

"You live in denial and a false reality, and I don't. I live in the real world and grapple with its problems every day; you spend your life running from reality, hiding inside little bubbles of like-minded escapists in festivals and secluded retreats, where there is 100% confirmation bias amongst the homogenous crowd."

This was my response:

"As for 'hiding in festivals,' I go where I feel like I'm needed. I don't see like minds; I see lost souls, a society with great potential that lacks the grasp of context and sense of purpose necessary to do something constructive with their lives. I am fighting as hard as I can to ensure that my generation isn't wasted on meaningless consumption and hollow drug experiences but is able to recognize and wield the positive and constructive potential of festivals - namely, to create a space where people can network, share worthwhile ideas, and assist one another in their potentiation, instead of just buying sh*t and getting f*cked up."

"In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all being called."

“Play is the answer to how anything new comes about.”


In other news...I'm obviously a zealot, but sometimes I think I'm also a fool for releasing all of my music, writing, and presentations on a "pay-what-you-can" (aka "sleep-on-your-friend's-couch-cuz-you-can't-afford-your-own-room") model.

Then I remind myself that we don't own ideas; ideas own us. And I get on a rant like this one:




~~~

...And while you're busy sharing, you might take a moment to appreciate how you're helping build the emergent mind of a global superorganism in which each of us are as small and insentient – yet as vital and unified – as blood cells and neurons within a human body. This is one prevailing theme in my new essay series, "Ode To A Paradigm Shift," which launched this week on Ehren Cruz's luminous living library of spiritual resources, SolPurpose.com.

"Ode" is an ongoing immersion course in the kind of synchronistic, holonomic thinking espoused by Jose Arguelles in this newsletter's opening, above. And for that reason it is so timely, so urgent, that I have no choice but to publish it as fast as it streams out of me. This is my finest humble attempt at poeticizing the great shift in which all of us are taking part...

Here's a taste, from the first in a series of weekly installments:

Suddenly the hidden extent of my island reality came up crashing over the waters and showed itself as, actually, a continent, a common idea. The edge of that human superorganism swung like dawn from orbit into view and everywhere I looked people were having the same ideas. I could almost feel – I started to imagine as if – a thin web of us, like a slime mold connected by the sweet ectoplasm of wireless transfers...I saw myself looking from orbit – not from “my own” eyes, but through a gauzy layer of satellite sensors I operate embodiedly – and flipping through the views of every mind possessed of a certain idea: here first is the map of people who are currently thinking about sex/about money/about postmodernism, and here are the people who are having a hunch about something (you can see it in the glow of their threshold-passing enteric nervous activity, revealing some areas of the planet make people more sensitive in different nervous regions)…to view the body of a notion resonating through the Earth body into each of us, to varying degrees…to finally capture gods on camera.


..:: Visual Art ::..

Oh right! The artwork. I wasn't gonna leave you hanging...

Well, once upon a time – long before I found my calling in the noise and color of festival culture – I worked every day in the quiet offices of the University of Kansas Natural History Museum Department of Herpetology. I took a scientific illustration course my senior year of college and was hired straight out of class to assist the new professor with his field guides and species descriptions of the reptiles and amphibians of the Philippines...and there I stayed for four years, stippling for four hours a day, drawing scale after gorgeous, tedious scale. I got to listen to whatever I wanted on my headphones – which ultimately gave me a second education – and I retrained myself to hunch for inhuman blocks of time over the microscope, tracing every contour of tiny creatures stiff and rank with formalin through the lens of a camera lucida.

It was the single biggest influence on what eventually blossomed into my precise and intricate pen-work as a live painter. It was, for a while, a kind of shelter for my vagabond heart – one of the few constants in my life as I went through the existential crisis that drove me out of academia and into my independent study of fractals, aliens, and the evolution of consciousness. And it gave me the credibility I needed to travel for paleontological illustration assignments in Wyoming and Arizona – some of the most beautiful and fulfilling work I have ever done, to this day.

After years of keeping my scientific illustration portfolio locked up on an auxiliary hard drive, I realized the error of my ways and made it available for everyone, so you can all appreciate a little more deeply both my own prequel-esque backstory and the profound beauty of nature to which I owe my ongoing inspiration:

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Lastly: Aside from my handful of time-lapse videos, there isn't much footage online of me in action as a live painter. So in order to bring balance to The Force, I just scrounged up this short clip on my Facebook art page – taken by my friend Jessica Perlstein while I'm in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park during last year's 4/20 celebration, trying (and failing) to paint in the rain. It's great in media res footage, if you want a brief dip in the vibrance and silliness of this calling's brighter moments.

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So there you have it. Enjoy the tour... While you're sifting through all of this, I'm already hard at work on part two of this ludicrous pleroma-storm of gifting...a somewhat more manageable update with new lectures, digital artwork, rediscovered guitar loopscapes, and musings on the nature of time and mind.

Thank you, immensely, for staying with me on this journey.