Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: 2015

25 December 2015

New Leggings & Cases // Three New Paintings // New Unplugged Music Video // Custom Violins & Flatbills // Essays on the Microbiome, Necromancy // Another Guest Spot on the Midwest Real Podcast

"Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth - all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity."
– Robert David Steele (former CIA agent)

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
– Anatole France (Nobel Prize-winning poet)

Merry Christmas, everyone!  After six months of experimentation, I've decided to make this a weekly (shorter, easier, more digestible) newsletter starting in 2016.  That way you won't be overwhelmed with an absurd abundance of new music, art, and writing (like you'll see below).  Here's to a smarter generosity, a less demanding way to stay in touch.  

That said, I hope you reap the full rewards of this last monster update.  Thank you so much for letting me give of myself to you in this way – some of you for eight years, now!  We'll keep learning and growing together.

For those of you with less time, here're highlights:  I finally have a complete on-demand merchandise store setup at Society6; I just quietly made all 71 of my musical recordings at Bandcamp entirely free (including several previously unreleased live albums); my sweetest and most poignant song so far is up on Youtube; and three new paintings showing off a more refined technique are now live at my online print store.  All of that and more, below.

I hope you have the greatest Christmas ever, and that you get laid by angels right as everyone is cheering and the clock rolls over to a New Year.  Much love and many blessings!



New Words (Writing Archive)

My second appearance on the Midwest Real Podcast, in which host Michael Phillip and I discuss the shifting nature of "reality" in the Internet Age, and I outline for the first time ever my belief that the 21st Century is best understood as a species-wide collective psychedelic experience.

My second article for the Body Hacking Conference Blog, in which I playfully undermine the idea that our bodies are computers with a visionary jaunt into the future of "hacking" the microbiological ecosystems in our guts.

My latest short blog for Reality Sandwich, in which I introduce you to the awesome artistry of my friend Void Denizen, whose work brilliantly confuses comedy, rap, and necromancy.

New Song (Music Archive)


A ballad for my friend, fellow songwriter Luke Redfield, in his style, about the silver lining to be found in getting stuck, in losing something beautiful, in having to sit still and wait for life to change:

Heard that you were unwound
know you have found your inspiration
closer to the ground
than you prefer to glide.
But all your pretty sounds
come from a place of desperation
the space between the howl
and the Moon inside...

All that open road is only a reflection
of the freedom that you know is in your mind.
Hard to go there when you know it's a projection.
So much easier to play it out...

I'm sorry about your car.
Sorry about your sweet Australian.
Glad to know that you can play guitar again.

It seems to all come down
at once, confounding explanation.
Feet and wings both bound
right when you need to fly.
But when you're not allowed
to get around, the revelations
come through clear and loud
and the soul grows wide.

All that time out turns you inward for reflection
and confinement makes a diamond in your eye.
You won't find it chasing highway for the legend
so I'm glad you had to sit one out.

I'm sorry about your car.
Sorry about your sweet Australian.
Glad to know that you can play guitar again.

The story of all your scars
deserve the songs you've earned by failing.
Glad to know that you can play guitar again.


"Diaspora"
24"x32" - oil and acrylic pens on masonite
original painting available – email me with inquiries
Buy 11"x17" signed poster prints for $20 each

Painted at:
2015-12-19 at The Gatsby (Austin, TX) to

The Lagoons, Kindaheart, Muddy Flowers, Caterwaulrus, 365colours

I used to paint one piece a night, back when I started making art at concerts. I enjoyed the looseness, dynamism, energy, and flow of pieces that I knew I had to finish then and there. But somewhere in the last few years, I started hanging out with "real" visionary painters, folks who painted all day every day and logged 150 hours in their average works. How am I supposed to look legit next to these people if I don't start putting way more work into each new live painting? So, I left the "start-and-finish-in-one-evening" pieces on the ground behind me (metaphorically).

Flash forward to this year, and I'm nostalgic for the rapid failure and success that comes with cranking out new pieces fast-as-possible. Plus, I happen to be reading some far-future, totally insane posthuman sci-fi by the great John C. Wright at the moment, and his books have a way of focusing on loooooong-term visionary space migration projects, building spherical space stations around stars, "sophotransmogrifying" all rocks and ice in a solar system into thinking matter...that kind of thing. It really tickles me in the part obsessed with what comes after our imaginary line between machines and living things has been erased once and for all: a minded, living, and responsive world where weapons have opinions, people are technology, the ships that carry us between the stars are ecosystems, more like gods than rockets, and each new invention glorifies what we call "nature" now, instead of being held against it.

Linked thematically to many earlier pieces, this one is another love song to the emptiness of space, which life would fill (indeed, it probably already has) if given any chance to do so. Think of the lusty yearning to explore the vast frontier...now lay that feeling over images of coral spawning under the Full Moon...

"Carnotaurus Wakes Up In A Very Unfamiliar Place"
36"x24" - oil and acrylic pens on canvas
original painting available – email me with inquiries
Buy 11"x17" signed poster prints for $20 each

Painted at:
2015-11-04 Empire Control Room (Austin, TX) to Hullabaloo, Detox Unit, Gaddy, and Fractālà
2015-11-07 Calavera Corazon, 2 GypsyZ Art (Kerrville, TX)
2015-11-11 Home Studio (Austin, TX)
2015-12-02 Empire Control Room to Digital Rust, Somatoast, InertG, Twips
2015-12-11 Empire Control Room to Blockhead, Botany, Bonus Junk, Lefty

The premise: is there is a "bardo" realm between lives for human beings, why not for dinosaurs? The Tibetan Book of the Dead talks about how when your body fades away at the moment of death, you are plunged into a bizarre and turbulent world of mental reactions. I can only imagine the surprise our protagonist must be feeling to discover herself in the whirling kaleidoscopic hyperspace of the after-and-before-life...

"Cosmic Giggle"
24"x24" - oil and acrylic paint pens on four canvases
original painting available – email me with inquiries

A studio painting of what I imagine God's crystalline internal organs must jiggle like when humans do our ordinary silly human things like fall in love and kill each other...

In addition to this month's live paintings, I also painted violins #003 & #004, and hats #180 and #181:



Apparently it is my lot in life to craft or reimagine magic sigils people use to shield and ornament their withered-but-recuperating pineal glands.  If you would like my help re-framing this time-honored gangsta tradition as the PC alternative to wearing indigenous head-dresses to music festivals (or the politically incorrect alternative for anyone attending a funeral), just let me know what's crying to express itself through you...



New Designs (Full Collection)

You asked, I answered: here are seven spankin' new leggings for all of your cyborg Shakti cosplay shenanigans!  Make a memorable exit in these lovely all-over printed, six panel polyester leggings, which will let you move and keep you warm and wick the sweat and turn heads.  If you order a pair, tag me in a Facebook or Instagram post about them and I'll share your picture!

But that's only one facet of the many-sided jewel that is my new Society6 design collection.  You'll also find phone cases, clocks, travel mugs, fleece blankets, t-shirts, and innumerable other made-on-demand items upon which you can blow your lottery winnings, legal settlements, and 401K.  I get 10% of what you spend.  Yay!


Upcoming Events (Full Calendar)

A few of my first major dates in 2016, with plenty more in store!  I hope to see you out there...




16 November 2015

Keeping The Portal Open // New Legendary Babe Live Painting // My Talk From Firefly 2015 // Four New T-Shirt Designs // Stuff You May Have Missed

Aloha, everyone! I hope that you're enjoying autumn – and that you don't mind me starting out this latest update with a lengthy but amazing quote. It's worth it.

“Inhabiting your body – reuniting with its intelligence – is one of the most potent political statements you can make. Disembodiment is tacitly modeled and promoted by every institutional hierarchy in our society – whether corporate, political or religious. Each of them is shaped around a top-down ‘command and control’ power structure run by the head of the organization, with executive power consolidated at headquarters – which might lie with the CEO (‘chief’ derives from the Latin word for ‘head’) in head office, or with the head of a political party in the nation’s capital (‘capital comes from a Latin word for ‘head’), or with the head of the church. The implicit message embedded in these hierarchies is that the head should rule. That message remains acceptable to us only because it expresses, even as it further consolidates, our relationship with ourselves."
– Philip Shepherd, "The Embodiment Manifesto"

“Oh, would that my mind could let fall its dead ideas, as the tree does its withered leaves!”
– Andre Gide

Wouldn't that be something. ;) And now...

New Live Painting: "Navel Gazer"

24"x36" - oil & acrylic paint pens on canvas
Painted live at the following spacetime coordinates:
2015-10-17 Austin String Band Festival
2015-10-23 Art Outside Festival*
2015-10-28, 11-02 Studio
* to the music of Liberation Movement, GAUDI, DJ Happy Happy James World, Bonus Junk, Nightmares On Wax, Invisible Allies, & KiloWatts

My first portrait – sort of. Based originally on the legendary beauty of Renee Somerfield (@reneesomerfield), but – just like they always do – it took on a life of its own. In accordance with my tireless and inane quest for personal firsts, this is also the first black and white painting I've ever done. There's a lot of subtle detail and transparency that even I can scarcely believe was accomplished with paint markers...but hey, it's in the limitations of the medium that both adventure and discovery reveal themselves.

Check it out in more depth and detail on my art site.

Four New T-Shirt Designs
Just in Time for the Holidays

Yay, finally, I got some new art on all-over printed tees!  (Still sorting out where to get more leggings, yoga pants, etc. printed after learning that my last manufacturers weren't delivering up to my standards.  But hold on tight!  I care about helping you ornament your lower half, as well.)

Clockwise from the upper left, we have: "Pura Vida," "New Age Cleopatra," "Purple Haze," and "21st Century Romance."  Three of these are based on sketchbook pen and ink work that I took into new dimensions digitally, blending human and machine, you know, like I like to do.

Speaking of which:

My Talk from Firefly Gathering 2015,
"Human Meta-Organisms: Endosymbiosis 
& Emergent Planetary Culture"

Recorded in the Light Lab Creations Dome at Firefly Gathering 2015, here is my deepest and most complete rap yet – mashing up nondual eastern mysticism with western psychology with evolutionary biology with psychedelic transhumanism with your standard MG standup goofery.  And thanks again to David Titterington for his amazing cover art!  Some juicy nuggets from the talk:

Love does not require a relationship between separate selves in order to exist.

The self is something that the world is doing. And the self is an adaptation to a specific set of ecological circumstances. It’s not a fixed point.

To talk about this time in the life of the Earth as the human age is not anthropocentric. It’s not arrogant. It’s an act of our growing humility in recognition that we are a phenomenon of the planet’s automatic processes. That a city is something that the planet is doing.

Listen to it and let me know if it stirs up any big ideas!

Keeping The Portal Open:
MG interviews Erik Davis on the
Blurring of "Real" & "Virtual"

Erik Davis is the author of TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, & Mysticism in the Age of Information (recently reissued by North Atlantic Books with a new afterword). An investigation into how our transcendental urges play out in the realm of high technology, it is a rare treat – both an exemplary work of scholarship and also a delightful read – a florid, fun, and virtuosic play of language. Even more impressive is that in our metamorphic times, this book has aged considerably well. TechGnosis is in ways more relevant today than it was in the rosy dawn of 1998, before The Matrix and the iPhone, Facebook, and Edward Snowden. We’re living in the future. Read this book and learn the territory.

Over a glitchy Google Hangout (you can watch both parts on YouTube), Erik and I discussed our culture’s highest hopes and darkest dreams for our collective future, and how they’ve both become more complicated since the turn of the Millennium.

If you imagine browser windows as a kind of portal in between dimensions – if you wonder when the apes and whales will open social media accounts – if you believe that we can find a way to surf the turbulence of our connected century with grace and humor – then read on

Stuff You Might Have Missed

Free download of my definitive "cyberacoustic guitar" live PA set from Firefly Gathering 2015.  Improvised to a yoga class and thus well-suited for movement, but I hear the music's also good for straight-up chillout sessions, painting, writing, driving – anything where you would like to set a deep and atmospheric mood.  Download it here.


I found this cleaning out my hard drive and found it interesting and worthwhile, reflecting on how little and how much my life has changed in two short years. I’ve released more virtuosic and accomplished music since the EP we discuss here, City of Jewels – but it remains one of my favorites, and is still as free as ever on my Bandcamp page. Enjoy...

para bien de todos,

19 October 2015

Quick Science Rant // New Live Painting // Hummingbird Stickers! // Art Outside Announcement

But First, A Riff on Science & Wonder

"Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop."
– Carl Sagan

We have personal stories and collective stories.  I think it will probably help to see the work I do as a writer and speaker as addressing and investigating the collective dimension of our stories.  William Irwin Thompson wrote that history is the ego of society and myth is its soul.  So learning our evolutionary history is to establish a much deeper grounding for our collective ego…and then to recognize it as a provisional and ultimately groundless scientific fairytale (even as the best we have) is akin to seeing past our ego story into our essential Mystery.  

One of my main theses over the last few years has been that science in its finest form as endlessly unfolding inquiry is basically a spiritual practice – the humility of wonder in pure curiosity, beginner’s mind as a prerequisite to any good experiment.  Of course, the process always ends by disconfirming or confirming a hypothesis, and then we start again with some assumptions – how we choose to ask a question’s all about the paradigm from which we’re asking – so there’s always going to be a point of ingress for the myth, the story by which observations are explained.  Laboratory breakthroughs are the moment of divine invasion; scientific journals are the holy texts.  Each has its visionary fringe more sensitive to the anomalies, the saints in wilderness encountering uncanny revelations, and orthodoxy that rejects new revolutionary insights as if they are immune cells.  The only difference between the institutions we call science and religion are the speeds at which each culture is reformed; the process is identical.  Organized religion’s like a solid; science is a liquid.

And I think we’re on the cusp of something even quicker – the networks that we’re growing are accelerating our adventures in discovery and peer review – and we are possibly approaching our real biological constraints of how fast we can mentally adapt to seeing things in totally new ways.  (Of course, we’re also learning how to be more flexible.  In my finest moments I can let new worldviews flow through me…though I always settle back into a lower state of order.)

Do any of you think about this stuff?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Endothelial Goo Conveyor

The first piece that I ever got so fed up with halfway through that I actually tried to destroy it, but the spray paint ran out and it ended up looking so cool, I decided to roll with it and finish what I'd started.  Another step closer to the "H.R. Giger takes 2-CB and gets over his natal trauma" aesthetic I started carving out with this year's painting, "New Age Cleopatra Basks Apocalyptically..."

Painted live with oil & acrylic markers and aerosol paint on canvas (36" x 24") at the following events in 2015:

07-25 Quixotes (Cream Cheese Accident), Denver, CO
07-28 Boulder City Park ("painting in the park" with Randal Roberts, Morgan Mandala, Chelsey Crandell, Joshua Wine Morriston, and many others), Boulder, CO
08-01 Taos Mesa Brewing (Treavor Moontribe, Planewalker, Desert Dwellers, Kaminanda, Kannizle, Buno), Taos, NM
09-02 Empire Patio, Create Culture (Zonra, Soundshaman, Sanjiwan, Fractala), Austin, TX
09-23 The Other Side (Spiritual Rez, Red Sage), Denver, CO
10-02 Westbank String Shop, Austin, TX

Original piece still available – email me with inquiries.

New Hummingbird Stickers!

A few years ago, in preparation for Burning Man, I marked up a plain white tee-shirt with the slogan, "Imagination Is Our Greatest Natural Resource."  This motto grew some wings and flew away, just possibly inspiring this book by futurist Ramez Naam.  It's been a while since I had any stickers, and the time felt ripe to resurrect the motto with a kiss from Beija Flor.

If I see you in person, ask me for one – or you can buy them in quantities both small and large at michaelgarfieldart.com.  Help me spread inspiration and encouragement in your town!


A Roadrunner in Progress

One of the reasons I love live painting is to share the entire process with people. To demystify the creative work and invite other people to imagine themselves as empowered creatives (who much have to spend a few years sleeping in their cars, and postpone having kids for a decade, in order to cultivate their dreams into their waking lives). 

This roadrunner kept showing up on my journey through the enchanted American Southwest and, like so many of my other paintings, just asserted itself as the subject of my next piece. Little did I know that I would have to paint through a vicious windstorm, the easel gorilla taped down and still bucking I'm the gusts, to finish this the night it needed to be finished...

You can read more about this piece, and pick up a print, on my art site.

Playing + Painting + Speaking at Art Outside

I'm honored and delighted to share my first singer-songwriter set in years (here and here are some older recordings) with this year's Art Outside family! We've all got to live our passion, and mine is writing songs about psychedelics, making love in zero gravity, the landscape of eternity, and running from the terrifying beauty of our higher selves.

Years of experimental guitar practice will definitely enrich the atmosphere we'll feed and share together in the pecan grove at the Folk It Up Stage on Saturday at 12:30 pm – but this will be a set of finely crafted ballads, odes, and anthems for the dreamers and lovers. I've played this festival each year since 2010 and feel like I'll be coming home – I cannot wait to share an album's worth of new material with you!  (If you're not going, it will be recorded.)

Love and thanks for all of your support!

17 September 2015

My Finest Live Record To Date | Midwest Real Podcast | More Gigs in CO, TX

"You've got what the intergalactic call a very 'planetary' mindset, Morty."
– Rick Sanchez, Rick & Morty

"For one brief moment, I felt the heartbeat of creation, and it was one with my own."
"We ALL feel like that all the time. You don't hear US gassing on about it."
– Philip J. Fry & Bender Rodriguez, Futurama

––––––––––– Presenting my new live LP, Balance! –––––––––––


This month's big announcement is what I believe might be my single finest instrumental concert yet.  After ten years of perfecting my unique live rig, creative palette, workflow, tone, and voice, I've finally arrived at cruising altitude.  It's music for discovering the peace you are...with plenty of adventure, longing, glitch, and psychedelia along the way.  Enjoy!

Credit: Photo by Michael Grab | gravityglue.com @gravityglue


When you buy music on Bandcamp, other people can see that the album is getting support – your avatar and comments are displayed on the album page – and they're more likely to buy it themselves.  Your purchase makes a huge difference in how new fans encounter my work!  So thank you...


(Of course, you're absolutely welcome to have it for free, as well.)

Here's what some wild-eyed young kook wrote about this album:

This is the only audio recording of an musical performance that occurred on June 13th, 2015, in concert with Andrew 7 Sealy's yoga class at Firefly Gathering, in outside Flagstaff, Arizona. It descended in the pocked debris field of an old eruption, now a hilly grove of evergreens within a grassy valley deep in Northern Arizona. As the spirit of this place condensed, it clattered through a man-shaped sieve of road-emboldened curiosity and dedication to the task, then killed and resurrected the guitar by using it to channel deep-time grooves through sampled and remixed, responsive, warm, and fluid sound.

What happened there: from wood and magnets, spacey and pastoral rhymes and dreamy neo-minimalist folk-funk evolved some teeth and veered afield to afrobeat and glitch and UFO sound healing, kinda change-your-life shit, and True. Future. Jazz.

One instant reverent and pure as prayer, and then it’s like some weird organic bio-metal fused from everyone’s collected effort that surrounds and holds us, flowing chrome reflecting rainbows. Starting off all kissy, it becomes a party, goes through growing pains, and takes you through them with it, but you GET there – you can catch your breath atop the mountain and behold the epic vista, and we’re all relieved together and we’re all one thing and THAT’S the kinda show it was and is and always is.

When being part of something taking form inspires all of us to grow as well, and tells us through a kind of ritual that circumstances always change – when we involve ourselves – tears flow, the happy ones. This music was created on the spot with only training, no agenda, open mind and heart…

So listen through some quality devices. Better speakers, better sound.

––––– My spot on the delightful Midwest Real Podcast –––––


Credit: Photo by Reid Godshaw | Harmonic Light
"Friends, we've got a sprawling, fanciful, new show with writer, visionary artist, and debonair brain-melter, Michael Garfield! You shan't regret checking it out!  Michael Garfield can only be described as a polymath… a renaissance man… Something of a debonair brain-melter. At times, exchanging words with him honestly feels kind of like speaking to a library with a mouth. I’m not really sure how he does it.  Michael is also a serial creative. He writes for a number of websites, paints and makes music."

This was a totally fun, equal parts profound and silly, chat with host Michael Nelson – who has also interviewed some of my most inspiring friends and allies, so I encourage you to dig deep with his podcast.  He also started a really cool Facebook group, Third Eye Drops.

If you're a podcast fiend like I am, you might also dig my appearances on Expanding Minds, Psychedelic Salon, In A Perfect World, Here We Are, Novelty Generators, New Paradigm Radio, Project Bring Me To Life, Gaian RadioZap Oracle, and Minds.com.  (And of course, there's also my free archives of talks and interviews for the truly dedicated...)

–––––––––– Upcoming gigs this month in CO, TX ––––––––––

Yay, I'm finally coming back to play some gigs in Colorado!  I hope you can attend my show in Denver with Spiritual Rez & Red Sage next Wednesday, or my set for the super fun live looping festival in Colorado Springs next Friday.  

And if you're in Austin on October 1st, the monthly avant-live-electronica group jam I've been hosting with looping cellist Jen Mulhern is coming up – it's a super intimate and hi-fi venue (voted best sound in Austin), and we go as deep as possible with it.  We'll lay a blanket out for you!

11 August 2015

What Is Transformational Sobriety? Plus, FOUR New Paintings...and a Violin.

“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.”
– Henri Bergson

It's been a crazy summer!  My apologies for going an unprecedented six weeks between updates, but that just means this blog post's packed with even more new art and writing than it usually is.  And wow, this summer's given us so much to savor...

Let's begin with what I think might be the most intense and awesome talk I've ever given – on how we're all made of drugs, and how sobriety is not about abstaining from embodiment in all its messiness, but listening to intuition, learning to embrace life with full-bodied wisdom, and surrendering to that which knows what's really best for you.

I offer this to anyone who might enjoy or benefit from conversations on addiction and desire and mindfulness and new beginnings. In retrospect, it is a kind of ladder to the Moon that only makes it just beyond the chimney. But perhaps it points you in the right direction.


Presented at Arise Festival, Loveland, CO, 10 August 2014.  Cover Art by David Titterington.


New Paintings!

This summer really satisfied my need for adventurous art – holding on for dear life to my easel in a windstorm, surfing weird waves of synchronicity, working in new media and venues.  Each painting has a story and a field of meaning.  I hope you'll take the time to click through and read more about whichever piece you find speaks to you strongest...


"Strength of Conviction"
Paint pens on canvas (18"x24")

About the white tiger as a totem, from Balanced Women's Blog:  "Seeker of personal truth, having the power and strength of conviction, living simultaneously in the realms of both shadow and light..."



"Attention"
Paint pens on masonite (24"x32")

Original piece painted live at Firefly Gathering & Sonic Bloom Festival 2015 during the music of Warp9, ProJect Aspect, PEGA5U5, Unlimited Aspect, Cirque Roots w/ Jyshua Pcalyps, Deya Dova, Aligning Minds, Nanda, Luminaries, Safi's Lab, Little Giants, Saqi Live Band, Jeremy Sole, Nickodemus, The Trancident, Shpongle, Sonic Bloom Orchestra, Kaminanda feat. Eve Olution, Phutureprimitive, & Random Rab.

A portrait of the roadrunner ( Geococcyx californianus) that lives in the yard of my hypnotherapist friend in Albuquerque. I feel a kinship with these birds. They're fast, alert, decisive creatures, not excellent flyers but agile, charismatic, colorful, and radiate the strange enchantment of their desert home. They're sometimes called "Snake Eaters" because they're quick enough to eat rattlesnakes (and catch dragonflies and hummingbirds from the air) – that alone is amazing, and in fact while I was working on this painting at Sonic Bloom Festival, at the foot of the Spanish Peaks in southern Colorado, a friend of mine found a rattlesnake among the tents and killed it with a hatchet. He showed me the tail tip and the rattle that he kept, the tail still squirming on the hatchet blade...


"Moving On"
Paint pens on canvas (18"x24")

Original piece painted live at Sonic Bloom Festival​ 2015 to the music of Unlimited Aspect​, Russ Liquid​, VibeSquaD​, Desert Dwellers​, Kinetic Groove​, Mustard Tiger​, Talib Kweli​, & STS9​.

When visionary chaos theorist Ralph Abraham wrote in the MAPS Journal a few years ago about his original experiments with DMT in the 1960s, and how they inspired his explorations of fractal mathematics and computer visualizations, he mentioned that one of the notable characteristics of the tryptamine "realm" is how entities don't seem to be restricted to contiguous space. We mundane animals in meatspace need to be connected by nerves and blood vessels and skeletons, etc., but the seeming-beings of the DMT-verse are "wireless" unities of pattern, rhythm, and color. They exist more as musical themes than solid blocks of meat...




Untitled Diptych
Paint pens on canvas (16"x10")

Now in the private collection of Bill Ottman, founder of the exemplary social network Minds.com and host of this amazing conversation I had last year with Erik Davis, Neil Theise, Richard Doyle, and Mitch Mignano.  (Links go to interviews.)


Custom Texas State Flag Violin

Not much to say about this one, except that I love painting instruments and hope to do more soon!  Some of you might remember this piece from last year, when I was asked to paint the front of the violin.  The client asked for a matching back and white sides so that he could have it signed by famous fiddle players.  Super fun!

Side Note:  In case you ever need to make your stringed instrument playable again, my fiancée is an amazing luthier and does magical things to violins and guitars all day (I know because I visit her at work).  Here's her FB page.  She also plays viola in the Sienna Quartet, in case you're gettin' hitched.


New Articles for Globalish.com

These are, seriously, some of the best pieces I have ever written.  I'm honored that I get to share them with you.  And some of them are super controversial!  So please have fun with that...  :)

Comparing The Religion We Call Marriage to the Wilderness of Love
Marriage is a species of religion, insofar as both are ways in which romantic re-connection is pursued by those who do not feel complete already. Binding to the narrative of loss and rediscovery this way, we’re wearing double-image goggles: Heaven isn’t now, so we postpone our bliss in time; true love is out there somewhere, so we look for it in other people.

"Change Is Everything": Where Fossils, Digital Culture, & The Seeker's Journey Meet
Created or discovered? These are categories, just more reflex action of a mind uncomfortable with the bottomlessness of experience, another raft of thought afloat on oceanic mind without an explanation. Every tale we piece together of prehistory from the traces that remain is no more real, and no less guess-work, than the stories of our own identities – extrapolations, inferences drawn from recognizing patterns, vesicles of meaning we produce as effortlessly and unwittingly as burrows, nests, or trackways.

The Problem with An International Flag of Earth
Perhaps a name tag like the Flag of Earth can be excused on our first day as universal citizens, but someday we’ll regard such seeming-noble notions as the acts of childhood, no longer needing banners under which to join our separate factions. We won’t be “international,” because our solidarity is grounded in our prior unity, within which tribes and nation-states precipitate like bubbles in the ocean.

In this millennium, societies and worldviews collide and splash into each other, merge and breed and multiply, and what we used to think it means to be a human exponentiates until we reach what would have seemed an unimaginably far horizon, and the word “humanity” no longer holds its meaning.

“No ground to stand on,” we complain when we feel insecure – but do we really need the ground to tell us where we’re standing? Or is there potential in the human spirit, on display in Kompong Khleang, to find our way within a vast, mysterious expanse, to learn to orient ourselves in ever-shifting waters?

Shoes with Human Teeth Provide an Opportunity to See Beyond Duality
Teeth are a kind of koan, if we let them be: reminding us that basic binary distinctions – inner/outer, nature/culture – aren’t sufficient to explain or to experience our lives as they appear in truth.

Does it make a difference if this undying flame forever burns within the ribs of Jesus or atop the middle finger of Saul Williams?


And that is that.  Thank you so much for reading!

26 June 2015

New Live Tracks & Feature by The Untz | New Jellyfish Painting & Collab with Tourmaline Todd | Podcasts & Interviews Galore! | New Articles for Globalish

Photo by Clay Collins at Firefly Gathering 2015

Wow.  

This summer has already been so powerful and awesome!  Things are really moving, settling into new configurations.  Just when I thought I was done with festivals, two of my old steadies – Firefly and Sonic Bloom – restored my faith in the power and potential of small, intentional celebrations and in my ability to meaningfully contribute to them.

And having a job I really believe in – my work writing for Globalish.com – liberates the art and music from the hustle that have kept them down for years.  All of my work has been transformed by the focused creativity-as-spiritual-practice that Globalish provides, and puts it all within a greater context of serving everybody-all-at-once by pointing past our stories to the peace within which everything exists.

I'll have much, much more to share about them both in the next newsletter.  But while I'm getting photos taken of the latest paintings, rendering my talks and concerts, and catching my breath at home in Austin, here is plenty to enjoy.  Take care and stay in touch!

New Live Tracks & Feature by TheUntz.com

Videos from my Loopers' Night residency at the acclaimed Strange Brew Lounge in Austin, Texas – featuring visuals by the audioreactive Synesthesia software, and a guest performance by my beloved Nicole Taylor on viola.  Download these tracks for free here.

"Haunting, introspective electroacoustic magic...These spacey compositions take on new life as [Michael] rearranges, builds, and deconstructs them on-stage."
– The Untz





New Live Painting:
"Watermelon Tourmaline Medusa"

Oil & Acrylic pens on canvas (18"x24")
Available – email with inquiries
Painted live at Kerrville Folk Festival 2015 during Rj Cowdery, Joe Crookston / Milagrito Records, Ellis Delaney, The Don Juans, & Amy Speace and at Parish Austin for Art Seen Alliance Presents FKJ, BRANX, Diamond Cuts, & Lefty

Read about this painting and view it through a magnifying lens.

New Collab w/ Todd Shepherd (Available)

New Painted Hat (Sold)

New Writing for Globalish

Hip Hop's Latest Psychedelic Turn: Dig A$AP Rocky's Hopeful, Romantic "L$D"
There’s always going to be a niche for guns and hos and other adolescent bluster, but it’s looking more and more ridiculous with every passing day. When we’re confronted with the Mystery of Being and open our lives to make more room for it – as seems to be the case for A$AP Rocky – we’re forced to recognize how little nourishment there is in our old games of separation...

Lampooning The Global Addiction to Self: Open Mike Eagle's "Celebrity Reduction Prayer"
More of us are waking up to how we’re squandering our lives on self-obsession. Learning this does not mean turning victim’s rage upon the few who manage to exploit the many’s pride and avarice, in adolescent bids for power. The market only follows the demand, and all we have to do to slay the dragon at the other end of this perceived conspiracy is stop investing so much energy and money on a “self-and-other” story that is dubious at best...

Time, Space, Ego: Is "Change Gonna Come" Because That's What I Am?
Self and world change together as a matter of necessity, since self and world are only separated as an artifact of our perception, tuned to keep one part of our experience consistent for as long as possible. Wisdom is in knowing this, and seeing past the revelation that the self and world both change to notice what unchanging deeper mystery contains them...

Sex & Psychedelics: Are We Ready To See Through Separation For Good?
What psychedelics teach us – and what we continue to mistranslate in our bid to “bring the world together” – is that nothing’s separate, never was, and all this back-and-forth is sheer creative play: a universe that can, and so it must, explore the sense of being selves and others...
Something’s changed in recent years as scientific understanding of our planet’s systems deepened to the point where we can not pretend that we are, or have ever been, a separate phenomenon from everything that we romanticize as “Nature.” We define an epoch of the planet’s life in which the actions of technology and city-dwelling Homo sapiens are actions of geology...

Soul Mates or Cell Mates?: The Blessing & The Curse of "Other" People
If boundaries are ideas, not absolute realities, then we can take them up when necessary, drop them when appropriate, arbitrate together the complexities of sharing space, and celebrate our unity more frequently than we would ever have been able to when we assumed our separation as the basis for our interactions...

Podcasts & Interviews Galore!

"This week we talk psychedelics, philosophy, and discuss whether or not evolution has a defined trajectory."

Shane Mauss is a rare bird and a blessing to the world of stand-up comedy: his jokes are informed by an abiding interest in evolutionary psychology and psychedelic philosophy. He teaches you things while you're laughing, all the while pulling off this "I had a funny thought" vibe reminiscent of late-night dorm room conversations. His podcast, Here We Are, is an awesome series of interviews with scientists and philosophers which he claims helps him research new material for his comedy routine, but also just happens to be a fantastic journey through knowledge and the open horizons of the human experience.

After some mutual friends introduced me as someone who could hold an engaging chat with him about DMT (facepalm) we met up, hit it off, and had a damn-near-three-hour conversation that takes his podcast in some pretty strange directions.

Listen to our conversation here.

I also revisited the lovely folks at Project Bring Me To Life for an hour-long video podcast, and had an accidentally super-intense interviews with Electronic Colorado and Sparkleberry Lane about my participation in this year's Sonic Bloom Festival.  All three of those were fun and offered some interesting space for surprising depth, if you find time enough to venture into them...

Some Upcoming Shows

"In the late 20th century, the formative issues in digital media art were about connectivity and interaction. In this century, our post-digital objectives will increasingly be technoetic and syncretic. Formerly, there was much ado about e pluribus unum (out of many, one) – a unified culture, unified self, unified mind, unity of time and space. Now the reverse applies: ex uno plures (out of one, many) – many selves, many presences, many locations, many levels of consciousness."
Roy Ascott, "Syncretic Art and The Technology of Consciousness"

26 May 2015

I'm Done Hustling Paintings – Live Art from Levitation Festival – New Full Band & Duet Recordings – More Articles from Globalish – New Painted Hats – Summer Festival Schedule

“To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, 
all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Some things in life are so serious all you can do is laugh."
– Mark Twain

After Today, I'm Done Hustling Paintings

I'm done trying to sell my original paintings.  I've never felt any conflict between creativity and commerce, but for whatever reason I have sold hardly any of my pieces in the last two years, and trying to hustle them just cheapens what I do and distracts me from the work.  I'm grateful to have found another satisfying way to make a living, as a writer, and that I can go on making work of personal significance, and sharing it with you, without the burden of the hustle.

That said, I put a lot of work into a new art gallery and store last month, where you can surf my art by year, read up on them, use magnifying view to scrutinize them in excruciating detail, and order prints with greater ease than ever possible before.  Here's the whole new full-featured gallery where you can order prints – and here's a list of all of the original paintings I still have available.

Views are always free.  I hope this work improves your day a little.

Psych Rock Thistle

Levitation Festival (formerly Austin Psych Fest) is – if you can believe this – the first real rock & roll festival I've ever attended.  I had no idea!  People had come from all over the world and were genuinely there for the music – really committed, excited fans.  I'm so used to this "transformational festival" rhetoric about breaking down the boundaries between artist and audience, producer and consumer, but the honest truth is that when everybody feels like they're contributing then nobody is listening, and the people who have actually honed their craft to a professional level are often lost in the noise of everybody trying to show off.

In the sense that an amateur is someone who does it for love (amor), I'll always be one.  And I'm glad to have inspired so many other people to get out there and paint at shows, and play guitar, and study science...but wow, it was such a refreshing thing to be at a festival where the bands were playing and the audience was listening and when I set up to paint there weren't fifty other live painters.

I played my musical set at Levitation from the deck of a converted Airstream trailer that opened up like a transformer into an awesome stage, joined by my beloved Nicole Taylor on viola and my homie Randall Warren on cello, and there was a whole campground of people vibing to us when we brought a morning rainstorm down on them.  Afterward I met a bunch of great people who had traveled from all over the country to be there – and even a few inveterate psych rockers who'd come from London and stuck around for fifteen minutes while we broke our gear down to let us know they'd never heard anything like the music we were playing.

What a beautiful festival.  And so clarifying to my sense of who I am and what it is that I'm doing, musically.  Folks, if you like psychedelic electro-acoustic post-rock, you'll like these new recordings:

New Full Band & Duet Recordings

On the first Thursday of each month, an ever-evolving lineup of daring instrumentalists gather at Strange Brew Lounge in Austin, Texas. Exploring new music technologies and spontaneous collaborations in a boutique listening room environment – often in tandem with pioneering dancers and live visual projectionists – Loopers' Night is a truly one-of-a-kind event.  These recordings are of the completely improvised all-hands-on-deck jams we have at the end of every show. In many cases, these people have never played together before.

Please share this music if you like it! Loopers' Night is a community project and we appreciate your help spreading the word.  (Here are links to more info about our next shows on 4 June & 2 July.)

Easter w/ Nicole Taylor on Violin

One this rainy morning in Central Texas, at a lovely small flow arts conference on a permaculture farm, my partner of ten years and I performed together for the first time in entirely too long.  I looped her fiddle work and mixed it together with my own acoustic guitar improvisation while fifty or so world-class flow artists jammed along on hoops, poi, staff, sticks, and other toys.  It was a beautiful moment and the resulting recording conveys the spirit of that loving and relaxed environment.

New Articles for Globalish

My latest writing for the excellent web magazine Globalish.com, where we explore the lived experience and meaning of awakening in the digital age.  Every article frames a totally fascinating (provocative or downright gorgeous) video – even if you're not interested in my writing, you'll almost certainly be as moved as I was by what I'm writing about.

Given that “the world’s a stage and all the men and women, merely players,” can we come together as a single play, one great phenomenon, acknowledging a unity that doesn’t just transcend, but maybe even needs, the drama, so it has a plot?

We really do not know which futures are in store for us…and ultimately, we won’t get to live the better ones without the shift from selfish personhood to serving Whole-as-Self, beyond whatever stories we inhabit and inhabit us. Paradoxically, to build a better future we must jettison our big ideas and be response-able to what emerges here and now.

It is the brain-bound ego, after all, that wants to free itself from its materiality. Desires are phenomena of flesh – including the desire to rid one’s self of its desires.

Graffiti is the reclamation of the commons – a digestive act that challenges the boundaries of private property, recognizing life as art and everything in reach as media with which to ornament the world.

Somehow the dreaming mind is unattached to categories in the way and to the same degree our everyday cognition is so fervently devoted to them. Letting something be two totally disparate things – letting our identity be local and diffuse at once – is all so hard for half our lives, so easy for the other half.

Death, as a punctuation mark between one life and many (saplings growing in the light revealed by fallen trees), is not so much “end” as “amplification” of the terrible and beautiful intensity of being – what Rudolf Otto called the “numinous,” a mysterium tremendum et fascinans, ecstatic, rapturous, and inescapable.

What we declare to be a cause entirely depends on how we frame the question. Causing what, within what span of time, within what volume, and to what degree? …To whom? There’s always going to be more room to add more complicated answers to this question, as we push the sphere of our investigations outward to include more differentiated parts within the unity of universe-as-one-phenomenon.

Projection Napping offers us a chance to see ourselves and our environments anew – and maybe even ask about the boundaries we have placed by habit in between the landscape and the body, mind and the environment. What separates us waking sleepers from our city dream?

So many of us hide our stigma, and in darkness marks are all the darker. Rather than exposing them to air and light to heal, we bury them, which makes the mystery and shame much deeper. Hidden, trees don’t grow; they die, decay. If we can’t talk about our problems (as we see them), nothing good can ever come of having them.

Can we authentically maintain the sense of separation necessary to identify as modern individuals when we’re confronted with the striking similarity of every human’s inner life? When every last frontier of mind and body’s named and quantified, when we can’t hide from one another, who is left?

The Mystical Allure of Taboo: Trespassing the Sexual Imagination (NSFW)
Each generation, bound by new taboos, must find its own way there – we only have the opportunity, no guarantees, and many of us lose the way by seeking temporary fixes – but on arriving, every person’s idiosyncratic history no longer matters. All that matters is the sweet release, which lives forever only now and now and now.

New Painted Hats

I'm not accepting custom orders at this time, but Heady HQ in Oregon and I have been talking for a while about getting some of my hats in their shop, so I finally made good on it and sent them a couple brand new pieces.  Hit them up if either of these speaks to you...



Summer Tour Highlights

So many cool new festivals this year!  I'm excited to be back in New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado this June and to get involved in some of New England's emerging boutique festivals in July.  And then Missouri and more Colorado in August!

Check out my full concert calendar for more details about these and several other awesome small events where we can meet up in person this summer...





That's all for now.  Thank you so much for reading and feel free to write me any time!