Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: My Burning Man Talk, "Evolutionary Transitions In Individuality"

06 October 2011

My Burning Man Talk, "Evolutionary Transitions In Individuality"

"The challenge of the transhuman is to actualize our unique individuality within the much larger planetary collective...most recent usages of 'transhuman,' it seems to me, have forgotten most of this, and mistaken the 'transhuman' for the 'ultrahuman' – a kind of upgrade to the same basic model, still denying our connection to each other and the environment.   In my view much of what we call 'transhuman' these days – the technological enhancement of our already existing nature to cling to life and deny the role of death, for example – is, as Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, 'human, all too human.' It is an individual ego’s vision of evolution."

A temporary break from visual art while I run off to Austin's Art Outside Festival this weekend and paint up a storm...in the meantime, enjoy some food for your brain and heart with my definitive rant on the evolution of our species beyond our current notions of selfhood and into a new planetary unity:

From the download page:

As electronic media and ecological catastrophe converge to unify individuals in a new planetary culture and identity, we can look back to the emergence of multicellularity, the advent of social behavior, and the appearance of syntactic language (all of which have occurred numerous times in separate groups of organisms) for insight on how humankind will make it through our own apocalyptic era.

This talk, given at Burning Man 2011's Red Lightning Camp, explores how converging crises catalyze organizational transformations biologists have come to call "evolutionary transitions in individuality" – and how this all applies to humankind's current global rite of passage.  Don't worry, we've been through this before...

(In the spirit of the gift economy, all of my recordings are available for free. If you are inspired by this talk, please carry on the spirit of giving by making a donation, or paying it forward with random kindness.)

For the more visually-oriented, you can watch the first ten minutes of this talk on Youtube:

A Philosophical Disagreement

If you resonate with and would like to join the discussion about the future of the human species, let me suggest jumping in on the comments thread for Jason Silva's recent blog at Huffington Post, "The Beginning of Infinity."

I don't ordinarily invite people to participate in philosophical disputes, but this is a special case: on the one hand, I'm honored to have been quoted by Silva alongside Timothy Leary, Buckminster Fuller, and Paul Stamets; on the other hand, I am horrified that my words were used to support his manic, uncritical techno-utopianism.  Silva completely ignores the reality that new technological power requires an equal evolution in human consciousness, if we are to survive these changes.  It's the exact naïve, power-enchanted hysteria that Disney criticized in The Sorceror's Apprentice seventy years ago.

Of course, I might be over-reacting, or just plain wrong.  Let me know what you think...

For those of you who feel like participating in the debate (or at least watching from the sidelines), I left my response in the comments to the article, permalinked here.

New Cyber-Guitar Video

And in music news, you can now watch me improvise "Mamma Gaia," closing track from my album A Million Anniversaries: CyberAcoustic Guitar For Lovemaking – which, by the way, recently topped 2,000 "likes" and is still completely free to download...

You can watch all six videos from the album in my new Youtube playlist for A Million Anniversaries while I'm getting the next series of live music videos from Burning Man ready to go.  Starting next week, I'll post a new video every week until the free release of Rites of Passage: Live at Burning Man on 11/11/11.  Lots of great footage I'm excited to share!

As always, don't hesitate to reach out to me for any reason.  Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.