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

24 October 2013

The Evolution of Surveillance Part 2, Looper's Night Archive, Skateboard Preorders, Perspectives on a New Age, Questions from a Grade-School Art Class, Another Hat

"Tribalism is very hard to reconcile with progressive visions of a world of equality, fairness, and understanding. The moment you being to see other human beings as being somehow outside your perimeter, you can believe they’re less than human – objects to use or, worse, destroy."

"To fight the empire is to be infected by its derangement. Whoever defeats part of the empire becomes the empire; it proliferates like a virus…thereby it becomes its enemies."
– Philip K. Dick, Valis

For the first time in six years, I have no upcoming gigs on my calendar.  Art Outside was a profound, beautiful farewell to my festival season and a lovely port to kiss goodbye as I set out to sea on a frightening new adventure in self-discovery, study, writing, studio work, and wide-eyed travel.

I don't know who I am or what I am becoming, but I promise I'll have even more time to help you even more directly than I did before.

• If you'd like Skype/Hangout lessons in guitar, songwriting, live art, public speaking, or any of the other things I do, email me and I'll be happy to help.

• If you'd like to scoop a superb cut-rate deal on any of my available original live paintings, now is your chance to hit me up with an offer I can't refuse.  Split payments and offensively low bids encouraged.

• If you'd like new custom work, you know how to get ahold of me with your budget and ideas...

• And if you want to book me for music, art, or speaking, it would be my pleasure to fly out there.

For now, I'm off to the cave.  See you with more inspiring goodies in two weeks.  Enjoy, and be well!


Afraid of the machines? Worried the universe is running down into chaos? Afraid of a surveillance state, or ecstatic that we're nearing The Ascension? (Choose your flavor.) Well, cut it out. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This talk should help you keep a healthy realist optimism for, oh, another twenty years or so...

Michael Garfield at Burning Man's Center Camp Café (in a talk originally titled "These Are The Good Old Days: Reverse Nostalgia From A Citizen Of The Future") explores the basic dyads of life and death, past and future, Heaven & Hell, self & other – and explains how to move beyond them for Better Living in the 21st Century.

Note: Due to dust in the equipment, this recording was cut short right before the Q & A. Typical Burning Man technical difficulties. Apologies!


The next installment of my serial essay on cyborg spirituality and evolutionary conflict is now online at Reality Sandwich:

With the evolution of the eye came predation, and with predation came herd behaviors...So began an evolutionary arms race that modern biologists describe with the Red Queen Hypothesis, named for the way that teeth and armor, poisons and immunities, continue to leapfrog each other on a treadmill as generations come and go. Police call it 'escalation.' The logic is simple: over numberless generations, offensive and defensive strategies sharpen each other, drawing both into remarkable intricacy and precisely interlocking interdependence...  (Read more.)


The boards are almost in – now is your last chance to preorder my limited series Creation Skateboards deck artist-direct!  $85 includes the board (signed, if you like), a sticker of the painting, a download of my forthcoming album, and shipping anywhere in the US.

To order, use paypal to send money to my  email with a note including your shipping address.  That's it!  Your board will be at your doorstep ready to shred or hang on the wall in a few short weeks.


Over the last eight months I have held about a dozen experiments in musical collaboration between people who have never jammed before, all of us running through my multi-channel loop station so I can remix everyone's live performances on the fly.  Half DJ, half conductor, all terror!  What started as a residency at Flipnotics Coffeehouse in Austin grew wings and came with me on tour this summer for awesomely fun experiences at Rootwire Festival and Burning Man, among others.

Now my favorite Looper's Night performances are free for your enjoyment.  Caution: we get weird.


Tia Parr & Cory Nevins collected these questions from their art class with The Homegrown Kids Of Conway, Arkansas, Fall 2013. Here's an excerpt:

Q: Where do you think the future of art is going, and as an artist, do you feel that you are co-creator in the evolution of art?

A: I think we're creating more and more media and that art is more popularly understood as being creative in any medium. So there will be gene-poets who make new kinds of animals and plants, there will be professional dreamers who share their recorded imaginations, there will be mind sculptors who connect people's experiences in novel ways, there will be artistic explorations in robotics (musical sculptures that play along with you like living bandmates, and buildings that respond to your mood), there will be chefs who make impossible foods out of 3D printers...and there will STILL be painters, and blues guitarists, and standup comedians, and all of the other art forms. We will continue finding new ways to express ourselves and share those ideas.
(Read more.)

Aaaand, More Hats

My last bass drop hat ever.  I'm still totally open to other designs – power animals?  magical sigils?  sacred geometries? – if you'd like something with personal flair.  Let's make something that is uniquely YOURS.  You'll still be proud to wear it in a decade...

09 October 2013

What We Can Learn From Mass Extinctions | Metaphors & Meta-organisms | The Science of Transformation | Back in the Hat Game

"You don't own your reputation. Most people think they do, but the reality is different. Your reputation is the accumulation of what other people think about what they think you have done or said. In other words, your reputation consists of other people's projections. You don't own that and you don't control it. You can influence it, but only up to a point."

“If you don't have enemies, you don't have character.”


Thank you to everyone who supported my recent crowdfunding campaign!  We managed to raise enough to keep me warm and fed this winter as I get cracking on the backbone of my new book and continue to freely share more videos and writing through and about Google Glass (and living through intense technological change in general).

I've started a new FB group – "Life in the Glass Age: Technology, Art, & Consciousness" – to keep the conversation going.  Please join us there with your questions, comments, and news items.

If you'd still like to donate but missed the window for contributing to my Indiegogo campaign, don't sweat it - you can make a paypal donation, and just let me know in the "note" section which of the perks from my campaign you'd like as a gesture of my appreciation for your support.

And now for some big new stuff:



From catastrophe, new life.  Luckily I've been a compulsive note-taker for the last eight years...


My summer tour is over and I'm ready again for cozy months of painting while I listen to inspiring podcasts.  If you'd like a custom hat, feel free to drop me a line.  Orders start at $150 (including the hat) and I am not doing any more Bassnectar or Pretty Lights designs.  (Sorry, kids, but I'd rather not capitalize on someone else's stardom – and you'll thank me when you can still wear the hat in ten years.)


Since “no problem can be solved from the level of thinking that created it,” let’s look at our ecological crisis from the only angle that will help us solve it: not as an invasive species separate from the rest of the biosphere and “killing the planet,” but as something the Earth is doing, part of the story of life, participants in the distributed intelligence of the evolutionary process and thus performing a valuable function we cannot fully understand. This is the sixth mass extinction, so let’s look at how we (identifying with life as a whole, since we have never been completely removed from the layer of life that covers this planet) made it through a comparable crisis before.  (Read more...)


Or if you're more of a video person, here is the article above in improvised rant form.  Not as articulate, perhaps, but you can read along to the transcript and listen to the stirring musical accompaniment!


"Metaphorical thinking — our instinct not just for describing but for comprehending one thing in terms of another, for equating I with an other — shapes our view of the world, and is essential to how we communicate, learn, discover, and invent. Metaphor is a way of thought long before it is a way with words."

My talk from Rootwire Music and Arts Festival 2013 on how to use a suite of new metaphors to navigate the shifting landscape of 21st Century self and society. Topics include:

• What "The Great Oxygenation Event" of 2.5 billion years ago has in common with our current industrial eco-catastrophe, and how it might inform a solution;
• Why the universe is equally well-described as ramping "up" and "down" – and how these forces merge in the ever-morphing now;
• How every act of communication is both a manifestation of mind and an attempt to promote a specific perspective;
• How experiencing the Earth as a superorganism informs a more responsible theory of economics;
• And more ideas from the fractal horizons of human experience...


Mark Heley, author of The Everything Guide to 2012, speaks on taking a galactic perspective at Fractal Planet, Burning Man, 29 August 2013.  I sit in, along with my friends Mitch Mignano and Jonathan Zap, on the conversation.  We discuss the cosmic timing of mass extinctions, our need to understand the dynamic environment of interstellar space, and how we are learning to pilot "Spaceship Earth" into a new and stranger century...