Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: April 2011

29 April 2011

Live At Eight Thousand Feet & Two New Paintings

"For a relationship to stay alive, love alone is not enough. Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining."
- James Hillman, archetypal psychologist

"Imagine it's 30 years from now. You're looking back at the history of your relationship with desire. There was a certain watershed moment when you clearly saw that some of your desires were mediocre, inferior, and wasteful, while others were pure, righteous, and invigorating. Beginning then, you made it a life goal to purge the former and cultivate the latter. Thereafter, you occasionally wandered down dead ends trying to gratify yearnings that weren't worthy of you, but usually you wielded your passions with discrimination, dedicating them to serve the highest and most interesting good."
- Rob Brezsny, pronoid astrologer

(Before we begin, let me suggest you view this on my website, the way it was intended...)

..:: MUSIC ::..


Back in March, I played at the Shumei International Institute, a spiritual center built on the holy mountain outside Crestone, Colorado. Not only did the magical energy of the land and venue infuse my playing and singing with a special clarity, but I had the rare blessing of guest musician Andy Skellenger adding cajon and tablas to half the set. And he kicked ass. From now on, whenever I play those tunes alone, there will be pieces missing!

Plus, I got some best-yet recordings of other tunes, like the slow-burning acoustic-electronic love song "Underground River." And I finally caught the lightning bug in the bottle: my three-minute rant on the co-evolution of LSD, DNA, the atomb bomb, and the internet is there for you all to agree or disagree with, as you see fit...

As usual, the whole album is free if you want it (although you have the option to pay me too, if you see fit); but unlike usual, I scored four lovely videos of Andy and I rocking out together and linked to them on the download page.

Check out the two of us tearing it up with the rowdy "Offering Hands" – an ode to the ego-obliterating intensity of revelation, if you're into that kind of thing:

Watch this full-size on Youtube / Vimeo

Like that? Go watch the other three, and help yourself to the whole album, at MichaelGarfield.net.

..:: VISUAL ART ::..

(Click on each image for a closer look.)

In Between Seasons
2011 04 08 Quixote's (Math Games, Absynth Quintet)
2011 04 13 Hodi's (That 1 Guy, Better Than Bacon)
24"x24" - paint markers on 1/4" masonite

- signed 11"x17" poster prints - $20 or two for $30 (plus $5 s/h) -
original painting for sale - make me an offer

This painting is as confused as Boulder's recent hailing-while-sunny "spring" weather. There are no such things as five-pointed snow flakes...so what are these? Cherry blossoms have five petals, not three...so what is going on here?

Well, as within, so without. Admittedly, I made this while Mercury was full flush Retrograde – confusing communication, technology, and insight, and driving us inward for integration. I don't feel quite as much like an ice-captured blooming than I did a few weeks ago, Thank God.


Endlessness
2011 04 15 The Other Side (That 1 Guy)
2010 09 02 Portal Patch (Lynx, Vibesquad, Future Simple Project)
18"x24" - paint marker on 1/8" masonite

- signed 11"x17" poster prints - $20 or two for $30 (plus $5 s/h) -
original painting for sale - make me an offer

Started at Burning Man 2010, but it was missing the really juicy detail that convinces me a painting is actually complete...so I got back in there with the fine-tipped markers and ripped it up with some tryptamine jewels. You might say this is an overhead map of one person "getting it" in a crowd of the oblivious...but you'll notice that we're all woven together and already that insight is starting to bleed over into everyone else.


..:: WRITING ::..

• Part Two of Ode To A Paradigm Shift, my rant on the evolving philosophy of science, is now up on Solpurpose.com. Here's a clip to whet your appetite:

We are at the end of one science and the beginning of a new science – one that dismisses the ancient but futile quest for total knowledge (and, not so implicitly, total control) and the narrow-minded insistence on the linear progression of cause and effect, for a celebration of the newer and more confounding questions introduced by each answer, for a playful exploration of co-causation’s latticework, which unifies all perspectives in a mutual creation and returns us each to center even as the dream of measuring our world’s boundaries recedes into nonsense.

And it is in nonsense that we rediscover ourselves – in the ceaseless irruption of the incompletely understood into our tidy matrices, a reminder (a co-conspiratorial one, if we are lucky) that the universe is bigger than our laws (even if we call them “universal”) and as its fruit, our lives are themselves a thin tiling of the familiar like verdigris/filigree/gold leaf over the faceless mind of tireless, revelatory, orgasmic creation.

• Taste-making music blog LostInSound.org just reviewed my cyber-acoustic guitar album The Body Electric and had some very cool things to say about it. Coming from another musician and trusted voice in the live electronic music scene – LiS's Pietro Bondi – these words are high praise:

Experimental and unique...this latest work shows great skill and potential as a guitarist and composer. Patient in their construction and determined to stay in melodic but unpredictable territory, [Garfield's] tracks glide through seamless changes, sometimes climaxing, sometimes spiraling off into quiet grooves or gurgling swamp sounds. The spacey, modern edge brings the simple pluckings and cleverly produced sounds into an envelope in which anything seems possible...

Right on! I hope you enjoy the reads...this weekend I'm off to paint at two more gigs in Denver with the esteemed visionary artists Alex & Allyson Grey, so expect some really inspired work from me in the next newsletter.

Thanks for your time, and have a beautiful day!

15 April 2011

Three New Album Covers, New Time-Lapse, & Meeting The Self You Aren't

"To understand ourselves, we must embrace the alien."
- PZ Meyers, octopus neuroscientist

..:: New Time-Lapse & Talks ::..

Last fall, journalist Charles Shaw and I embarked on The Light & Shadow Tour, a six-week, thirty-city journey across the United States that combined music, speaking, and documentary film-making into a profound voyage not only through the terrain of American culture but also into the depths of our nation's conflicted psyche.

A big part of it was gathering interviews for his amazing documentary Exile Nation, which is just about as thorough and moving a view into the issue of justice and prisons in the U.S. as I have ever encountered. But we also had a unique opportunity to speak with audiences all over the map about the role of "the shadow" – the repressed voices not only in our culture, but also in our individual minds:

The shadow is the part of ourselves so profoundly disowned that it shows up not as a quality of the self, but a trait of other people – not a choice that we are making, but a fate that imposes itself upon us. And to whatever degree we continue to refuse acknowledgment of our shadows, we remain the desperate victims of life instead of its joyous collaborators.

It isn't easy to write a new story of the self - and to constantly re-write that story, when new truths come to us in the form of disarming companions, rude awakenings, and other surprises. But it is the work set out before us, if we are to live as whole people and give the most of ourselves to the birthing of a new and better world.

Meeting The Self You Aren't is a free compilation of clips from my talks on that tour, a pastiche lecture on the stories we exclude from our own. I used excerpts to narrate this latest time-lapse live painting video for "Stun Flower" (which is, incidentally, also a music video for the title track from my latest cyber-acoustic guitar LP The Body Electric, and a kind of tutorial for anyone interested in how to draw near-perfect Golden Spirals freehand):

Watch this in HD on Youtube / Vimeo

..:: Album Art ::..

I've been heavy on the album art recently...

Meeting The Self You Aren't features another example of the new hybrid freehand/digital style I'm working out – a tunnel into the unmapped I:


But I've also had the delight of making album art for other people for the first time. Here's a link to Freddy Todd's new mix for Grassroots California, for which I modified my painting "Tunnel To The Moon" with the awesome digital kaleidoscope software Repper:


As much fun as I had with those two covers, I'm proudest of my art for my friend Jay Jaramillo (aka ProJect Aspect)'s debut full-length LP, Put This World On Hold. This album doesn't officially drop for a couple of weeks, but in the meantime I encourage you to click through and get down to his other tracks. He and Freddy are two of the hottest rising star DJs on the scene right now and it's my honor to call them my peeps.

Jay's concept was of a planet of puzzle pieces caught midway through explosion:


Each of these images is available (with or without the type) as a signed, glossy 11"x17" poster print for $25 each, or $35 for two (shipping included – just email me and I can have prints to you within a week!).

..:: Music4Change Interview ::..

Last year I was interviewed by Music4Change, a Fort Collins event production company throwing shows to make a difference. They don't archive their interviews online, and they had mine up for such a flash that I even missed it...so here is the full text of our conversation, in which I discuss getting into the live painting scene, the myth and science of creativity, and the purpose of art as I understand it. It's held up pretty well over the last year:

After some time I came to really understand how important inspiration is to the well-being of a person or a culture. We NEED to be reminded of our place in a bigger context, a broader myth, a grander story in the same way we NEED to eat and sleep and breathe. Meaning is essential to human existence and in fact the search for meaning pretty much characterizes human nature, so artists are indispensable. Eventually, the guilt of “not contributing” as an artist and musician like my friend the chef or my friend the construction worker evaporated. I found my worth, and it’s intimately tied to helping other people find theirs, in age of fear-mongering media and alienating social infrastructure.

..:: Next Newsletter ::..

• video from my concert with Andy Skellenger in Crestone, Colorado;
• a new live painting from my shows with Fareed Haque's Math Games & That 1 Guy;
• another installment of my essay series, Ode To A Paradigm Shift;
• and more I haven't dreamed up yet.

Thanks for your time and have a wonderful day!

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:

~~~

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.

~~~

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.