Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: March 2013

18 March 2013

Angels, Dragons, & My Live Painting From AURA 2013

"It is high time to ask whether it is really any scandal, any deplorable inconsistency,
for a human being to be both angel and animal with equal devotion."

Seraphim

Painted with opaque markers on 24"x36" stretched canvas at:
2013 02 15, 16, 17 AURA Festival at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
(Consider The Source, Break Science, Kung Fu, Perpetual Groove, 
Greenhouse Lounge, Papadosio x2, Infinite Geometry)
02 23 Cirque de L'Amour at Austin Music Hall (Vibesquad, Quixotic, Tipper)
02 28 The Parish (The Digital Connection, ONE4ALL, Chris B.)
03 01, 02 Head For The Hills at Quiet Valley Ranch (Eliot Lipp, A Live One)

Click below to check out the whole process of this piece:

How many different animals can you see in this painting?  I obviously meant to put snakes in there, but was surprised to find forms that remind me of an owl, an octopus, and a tiger (or crocodile)...and someone surprised me with "elephant," as well.

The chimeric nature of this piece makes sense, since it's a remix of several of my earlier paintings.  There are many different visual references to my other work collected here and alloyed, sublimated.  Taken together you can see my work as a kind of evolutionary progression – not a linear march but a melody, returning time and again to weave through certain themes...

Painting is a process of discovery for me, a kind of intuitive listening, and this painting connected more dots for me than most – namely, the relationship between angels and dragons.  The Old Testament word for the highest angels, "seraphim," literally means "the burning ones," and is used throughout the Bible as a synonym for "snakes."  Flaming snakes with wings?  Gosh, that sounds familiar...

I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me – even after years of savoring the connection between "Archangel Michael & The Serpent" and "St. George & The Dragon" (and "Lord Garuda & The Naga," further East...birds versus snakes, world round).  The snake – which as many of you know shows up in the yogic traditions as a symbol for the wriggling, electric life force called "kundalini," sprouts wings when our animal nature reaches its crescendo and sprouts from the crown of the head, fully integrated with subtler, perceptibly "feathery" celestial energies.

Following that rabbit down (or up?) its hole, I remembered that to the Chinese, the dragon is an occulted natural force, a terrible mystery that reveals itself through what insurance companies call "Acts of God" – lightning, wildfires, and floods.  In other words, the dragon appears worldwide as a kind of mythological shorthand for the terribly transcendent, especially in what author Erik Davis calls "the electromagnetic imaginary" – our collective mystical experience of electricity and magnetism, whose awesome power has captured social imagination for thousands of years.

In a blog post describing his vision of the coming alchemical, musical paradigm he believes will replace materialism, cultural historian and former MIT professor William Irwin Thompson draws a straight line through angels, aliens, and electromagnetism:

"Since [our experience of] space would no longer be empty and separating, space itself would be a plenum of vibrating streams of energy that in the medieval lore of the Jewish Zohar in Spain and of the Muslim Sufis in Andalusia were known as angels. At the end of industrial civilization, through the popularity of science fiction, these beings were often re-presented as high-tech extra-terrestrials."

In other words, aliens = electricity = dragons = angels.  Chew on that for a minute.

(Then watch this documentary, Thunderbolts of the Gods, which argues that enormous electrical storms in space were responsible for much of our ancient mythos...)

It's no wonder that all of these things captivate me, and so many other people.  Whatever else they are, angels and dragons and aliens (as well as flames and lightning, the concrete natural phenomena in which these symbols are experientially anchored) are all wrapped up in one big ball of myth together, implicated as the various faces of the transcendentally Big-Loud-And-Scary.  Their popularity persists because they help us discuss the Mysterium Tremendum – that truth greater than our own, before which we quake as children...

Speaking of which:

Definitive New Live Recordings

Definitive live recordings of nine incendiary guitar tapping etudes and space-hued transpersonal love songs, performed to an intimate listening room audience at Flipnotics in Austin, TX, 30 January 2013. 

A return from improvised electronic guitar work to my roots as an instrumental composer and singer-songwriter, this album features my "nice guitar," a 2001 Martin D35, and its new LR Baggs Anthem amplification system - the first pickup capable of reproducing the gorgeous tone of this instrument.

Seriously, these songs have never sounded this good.

You can get the album free for buying a print of the cover painting.  It's $3.33 or more if you just want clear, brilliant live recordings of my most dazzling solo guitar work, without the art.  (And if you like my music but not enough to support it, here are some decent live recordings you can have for free.)

"Michael Garfield has some absolutely amazing chops...
the musicianship on this album is truly wonderful."
- Marquee Magazine (on Alive With You, 2010)

"Esoteric and intricate, I found myself struggling to describe his sound and style...
some surprisingly pleasurable heartbreak."
- Mousike Magazine (on Double-Edged Sword, 2008)


That's all for now.  Thank you for reading!  In the next update I'll share pics of my Barton Springs Salamander painting!  I'm super excited to show you that – but in the meantime be well and have a beautiful day!

07 March 2013

Too Much Great New Stuff - But What Else Is New?

"We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality."

The waters are really flowing, these days, aren't they?  So much to catch up on, and so little time to share it or even read it.  Thank you for sharing your time with me so I can share with you.

(Full as it is, this newsletter came late so I'll send out another next week, on schedule – with new music, my talk and live painting from AURA Festival, and news on my amazingly great gigs this spring!  You can sneak a peek on my web calendar...anyone here into Papadosio or Stuart Davis?)

Let's start with some small, largely studio, paintings my friend Chaeli and I just conjured up.  This year has already fruited so many fantastic collaborations and there are even more to share real soon!

Lioness (Collab w/ Chaeli Cardenas)

This piece, like most of our work together, involves layer after layer of working over each other, literally filling in the missing pieces of each other's styles.  Chaeli has a way with cats, obviously – and her brushwork grew so naturally out of her way with pens.  Victory.

"Even though alone in a dark room, be as if you were facing a noble guest. Express your feelings, but become no more expressive than your true nature."
– Zengetsu (T'ang dynasty master)



Chibi Kirin (Collab w/ Chaeli Cardenas)

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."
If You Are A Hat, I Will Tattoo You

Here are some of the pay-what-you-want personalized panels I've been painting for the people who tip me when they order my latest embroidered design with Grassroots California:


I still have some in most sizes – if you'd like one, here are some pretty pictures of the hat as well as how to order yours at less than retail price (plus whatever you might spend to customize it).

Meanwhile the painted hat game is going so well that I have to cut down on them to make time for everything else!  I apologize for limiting my availability but in order to work on my music I have to ask that you please only inquire about orders of $130 or greater.  If I haven't put you off, feel free to drop me a line with your ideas...




Somewhat more affordably, I made these hats below for my friends at The Headspace – they have a lot of great work from my friends on their site as well, so go browse around and be impressed if you've got a minute.  I believe some of these are still available even if they're not pictured on the website, so you might want to write them and ask...







Mind-Blowing Ideas

I have told many of you in person that I believe one of the main functions of art is to draw each other into inspired and inspiring conversation.  As I see it, I'm just one warp in the global fabric of the planetary bioplasm, exchanging quanta of selfhood with other/selves like how our Last Universal Common Ancestor was basically one giant genetic orgy without any true species boundaries.  Even today it's pretty hard to argue for the concrete reality or temporal continuity of the self with any scientific credibility.  

Now that I have just over 6200 (!) of you getting these emails (supreme gratitude!), I need to make sure I'm not just showing off but showing up and sharing some of my most profound inspirations.  SO:

• Thunderbolts of the Gods - a film about the Electric Universe Theory

This is the most important science link I have ever shared with you all.  Please, just find the time to watch it as soon as you can (if you haven't already).  Seriously.  There's an amazing stream of comments about this film in my the thread on my Facebook profile.  Please feel free to follow my profile and join in with your own science links, crazy space news, etc.

• Last and First Men - the most influential Sci Fi novel of all time

Written in 1930 by the British Olaf Stapledon, this visionary flyover of the next two billion years of human evolution prompted both Arthur C. Clarke to proclaim that, "No other book had a greater influence on my life," and H.P. Lovecraft to call it "the greatest in all the field" of science fiction.  His version of the distant future is uncanny, familiar, prescient:

Each of us is mentally a distinct individual, though his ordinary means of communication with others is 'telepathic.' But frequently he wakes up to be a group-mind. When this communal awakening occurs, each individual experiences all the bodies of the group as 'his own multiple body,' and perceives the world equally from all those bodies. But over and above this simple enlargement of the experienced field, is the awakening into new kinds of experience. Of this obviously, I can tell you nothing, save that it differs from the lowlier state more radically than the infant mind differs from the mind of the individual adult, and that it consists of insight into many unsuspected and previously inconceivable features of the familiar world of men and things.


...And that's it.  Thanks again for your precious time and attention.  May this newsletter serve all beings!  You know how to get ahold of me if you want to.