Michael Garfield's Love Without End Tour Newsletter

21 August 2020

Deep Time Meditations, Avant-Fingerstyle Guitar, Cultural Somatics, Animated Cities, Meta-Theorizing UFOs

“Let go or be dragged.”
— Zen Proverb

Hello, friends and friendly strangers. Life has been very full...it's been a while, but I hope you agree this is a substantial and nutritious mind-meal for you to connect to the sublime and wonderful amidst the hardship and confusion of our blip in history. May it enrich you! Write back any time...

First off, I got a new gig (on top of my job at the Santa Fe Institute) working as Community Manager for The Long Now Foundation, an organization devoted to the cultivation of deep time thinking. Long Now was one of the main inspirations for Future Fossils Podcast. I'm so excited that they have decided to take some of my short writing from their members-only Facebook group and use it to help revive their blog! It's one of the oldest on the Web and features copious contributions from heavyweights like Stewart BrandKevin Kelly, and Brian Eno, so I'm once again a hummingbird flitting amidst majestic goliaths.

Here are the first few links I've curated and framed for their readership, and for you:

Speaking of time and movement, next week I'll release my first EP of avant-fingerstyle guitar—a journey through 17 years of intermittent composition and my deep practice with what Philip Toshio Sudo called, in one of the most influential books I've ever read, Zen Guitar.

Mudras is twelve minutes long but unfathomably deep. In it the fans of Michael Hedges, Kaki King, Tim Reynolds, and the Candyrat Records school will find familiar purchase—and everybody else will find surprise and novelty and feeling and precise dynamic passage.

Right now it's up on Patreon. Pre-save it to your Spotify collection and be notified when it's available for listening. Next week it will be up on Bandcamp and everywhere else you'd go to stream such things.

That awesome cover photo is from Kathryn Cooper, who's amazing, and whom you should follow.

In the same spirit but at far greater length and with far greater intimacy, I just drafted the fourth (and final?) installment in my essay series on The Evolution of Surveillance, tracing sensory and cognitive arms races back half a billion years and forward into our very weird future.

"The Evolution of Surveillance, Part Four: Augments & Amputees" is about how I started thinking about deep time in the first place, how my time as a Google Glass Explorer came to an end, what it was like to detox from a dinosaur-hunting augmented reality game, and why we have to be careful about letting corporations control our prosthetic extensions. It's a Patreon exclusive, for now.

Meanwhile at SFI, I occasionally get to have some fun with making "whiteboard" style animations for new science publications (like this one on the math of parking or this one on animal communication and information theory). 

The latest was an animated rap by visionary architect Ann Pendleton-Jullian on the layers of complex networks that make up a city, all of which we'll have to consider when we start making permanent habitats on other worlds. This was a totally delightful project. Watch it here:

And for anyone who missed my latest (and hugely ambitious, if brief) public essay, here is "We Will Fight Diseases of Our Networks by Realizing We Are Networks," republished at Liminal News.

Here are all of the new Future Fossils Podcasts since the last update, including some of the very best this show has had in its 150 episodes so far — including author-read audio of the first four parts of my book-in-progress, How To Live in The Future; a soulful conversation about leadership in times of uncertainty with Sahana Chattopadyay; a totally mind-boggling and truly profound four-way on cultural somatics with Tada Hozumi, Dare Sohei, and Naomi Most; and a deep dive into a rigorous and promising new meta-theory for UFOs and other weird phenomena with Sean Esbjörn-Hargens:

Listen here.

Listen here.

Listen here.

Listen here.

Lastly, we just had two wonderful discussions in the Future Fossils Book Club on the Lilith's Brood trilogy by Octavia E. Butler — conversations that could not be more timeless, and more timely.  I hope that you will join us for more deep and meaningful discourse like these two calls:

Listen here.

Listen here.

“Our lives are an opening into a transpersonal opportunity.”
– Terence McKenna

25 June 2020

Breathing Deep & Seeking Peace: A Cornucopia of New Art, Writing, Videos, & Conversations to Help You Get Through It

Here's a quick overview of what I'm sharing in this update so you can zero in on what sounds most interesting to you without getting cross-eyed trying to scan it all:

• I wrote a psychoactive new essay and talked about it with an Oxford philosopher on his podcast.

• I'm now printing custom facemasks with my paintings on them so you can be safe in style.

• I just collaborated with a Swiss data artist, new music for his AI-generated experimental video.

• I talked about cognitive biases and disinformation on my friend's Top 10 science podcast.

• I flung open the archives to share a long talk, a short philosophy riff, and an epic guitar improvisation from my 2017 Australia tour — as well as an intense panel discussion I was on with Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, and a handful of other legends back in 2016.

• I'm hosting a sci-fi book club for Octavia Butler's amazing Lilith's Brood and hope you'll join!

Stay safe and sane out there, my friends.



• New Art & Swag

End of the World Party! My presciently-titled Tyrannosaurus painting from Sonic Bloom Festival 2016 (along with three other fan-favorite paintings, below) is now available in face mask form AND eco-friendly giclee canvas prints. 

Grab yours today at iflmasks.com/michaelgarfield (masks) or michaelgarfieldart.com (canvas and cardstock prints).

 New Videos

Evading Confinement was a very fun collaboration with data artist Kirell Benzi. He made a one-minute experimental video with deep-learning AI networks and asked me to compose a musical accompaniment. Since the cyberguitar work I’ve been up to for the last 10 years is an explicit effort to render the shifting landscapes of closed-eye hallucinations in sound, it was like he had just re-visualized the music I was already making. Be sure to watch it in 4K!

The Fish & The Clam: Two Evolutionary Strategies is a short rant about two strategies for navigating the turbulence of our accelerating age, recorded while on tour in Byron Bay, Australia three years ago by Uplift.TV:

Pavonis is a 20-minute clip from one of my favorite live cyberguitar performances of all time. It is a deep dive into epic neo-minimalist psy-ambient terrain, ideal for anything involving incense or art:

Boom Toolkit for Covid-19 #5: Spiritual Perspectives is part of an ongoing series of featurettes produced by Portugal's amazing Boom Festival. Some of my set from 2016 made it into their latest video, with insights from shamanic ceremonial leader Satya and yoga teacher Filipa Veiga:

• New Writing

We Will Fight Diseases of Our Networks by Realizing We Are Networks is my latest essay, on the shift required for navigating our weird times. Here's an excerpt:

All of us grew up in a world too vast for anyone to understand. No single person comprehends a smartphone, or the economic networks in which it precipitated. Our necessary adaptations to the baffling complexity of postmodernity include a subtler and more nuanced grasp of context. It’s what Gestalt psychologists call "figure-ground reversal," where you realize that the object you’re examining emerges only at the intersection of more objects, a moiré of ever-shifting, mutually-defining processes.

In common parlance, people talk about this in folk psychological terms like, “You are the combination of the five people you talk to most frequently.” If all of those five people share the same beliefs, it probably won’t matter in a crisis like the one we’re in if they’re all prestigious public intellectuals or they’re all plumbers.

Read the whole thing at my blog on Medium.

• New Podcast Episodes

The Atlas Model ...in which Chris Kutarna, Scott Jones, and I discuss the above essay. Probably one of the best conversations I've had about complex systems, scaling laws, networks, and how it relates to our current mess of inter-related crises. Insights therein on fighting the pandemic, radical police reform, and new modes of fractal governance. (Chris is a fellow at Oxford and co-authored the amazing book The Age of Discovery. Very cool guy, honored to be in the mix with him.)

Here We Are is Shane Mauss' TOP 10 IN THE WORLD (!) science podcast. I just appeared on it for the third time to talk about cognitive biases, social decision-making, fake news memetics, and what that all means for science communication during #COVID19 (e.g., my job at the Santa Fe Institute).

Future Fossils Podcast Ep. 145 is a recording of my talk from Earth Frequency Festival 2017, about a revised narrative of prehistory from which we can grow new myths better suited for our times. We take a tour through mass extinctions, the evolution of plant-pollinator symbiosis, my critiques of transhumanism and SpaceX, and how fish and clams represent complementary strategies for dealing with turbulent environments...

Future Fossils Podcast Ep. 146 is a recording of the panel I once sat on with Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, Allan Badiner, Gay Dillingham, and Valerie Plame Wilson in a geodesic dome in Santa Fe — a rather intense discussion at the intersection of psychedelic medicines, nuclear disarmament, and ecological conservation generously released from the archives of Synergetic Press...

• Coming Soon to the Future Fossils Book Club

We're about to reboot the Future Fossils Book Club! Next up is Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler. We'll discuss it in three parts since it is actually a trilogy. To whet your appetite, here's a cool essay on some of the themes explored by this very timely series.

The scheduling poll and book club video calls, as well as access to recordings of those calls, are available for Patreon supporters only. I'm sure most people here can afford the lowest tier, but if you truly can't and want to be a part of these discussions, just email me about it.

20 May 2020

Navigating Radical Uncertainty & Making Art: Vital Conversations • Metamodern Weirdness • Digital Community • Biomechanical Easter Eggs

Hi Friends,

I hope you’re holding up through everything. A quarantine, you know, is from the Italian for “forty days” — that’s how long you had to sit there on the boat before debarking. Whatever brave new world awaits us must be really something, seeing as we blew past forty days a while ago…

I’ve already said my piece about how this crisis might help us find new and better answers than the ones we all got stuck on. Now, deeper into it, I’m just trying to help where I am able. That looks like starting some new (very modest) digital community initiatives, talking sense to crazy when I can, being present as a father and a partner, finding time to play guitar, keeping my head on straight…

The tiny devil on my shoulder tells me to remind you I have art for sale, and that you’ve never had a better opportunity to scoop up one of my originals (because the prices seem imaginary to me, now, and wouldn’t they look better on a wall than in a closet?). The tiny angel on my shoulder tells me I should give as much of it away as possible. I’ll do my best to find a compromise.

Don’t hesitate to write.



New Painting: “A Very Giger Easter”

Here I am before the inevitable quarantine buzz-cut showing off a new 30”x15” canvas I’ve been chipping away at here and there for a couple months. In contrast the rapid start-to-finish I’m used to from live painting, sometimes a piece at home will live in a kind of untouched half-done limbo for weeks at a time…and it feels good to linger and really contemplate that next step, like playing chess by mail.

This piece was one of those. Very nearly called it “My two-thousand-dollar-a-day Fabergé egg habit,” in honor of the great Bleeding Gums Murphy. Here it is head-on:
More close-up pictures on my Instagram.

It’s one of about two dozen pieces that I have for sale right now, and you can pretty much ignore the prices in my master list and make a “Crazy Eddie’s Fireworks” offer. My place is (REALLY) small and I’d rather see these pieces find a good home.

Help Navigating Radical Uncertainty

I feel weird talking about my day job in this newsletter, but it wouldn’t seem like an honest accounting of my creative work without letting you know about Complexity Podcast, the show I host and produce for the Santa Fe Institute.

SFI is the mothership of complex systems research, and for the last six weeks I’ve been lucky to work directly with our president David Krakauer — a brilliant evolutionary biologist whose work has inspired much of my thinking and writing — on a special mini-series exploring on how to navigate the radical uncertainty of our global crisis. (I’m especially fond of this one on surviving a mass extinction and/or market collapse.)

I’ve learned volumes doing this show and these episodes in particular, and it’s been immensely rewarding to know that these podcasts have been helpful to so many people at a time when things don’t make a ton of sense. I hope you find them helpful, too.

Join Our New Discord Server

Lately I’ve felt like social media is an ocean full of sharks and I’d rather just hang out in a cozy lagoon with a few close friends. Also, it feels like this pandemic hit the human species in our weak spot — namely, the civic life, the clubs and neighborhood communities that were eaten by the state and corporations in the last few decades.

If you would like a smaller, less diluted scene, I hope you’ll join us on our Discord server, maybe even hop on one of our ongoing Sunday video calls. I am amazed and humbled by the badasses Future Fossils Podcast has attracted to my life, and it would be awesome if you got to meet them, too.

New Future Fossils Episodes

Episode 142 is a conversation with one of my favorite fiction authors, Alex Shakar, about the profound darkbright bizarritude he channels through his two visionary satirical novels The Savage Girl and Luminarium — two works that show the möbius strip of sacred and profane, futurity and timelessness. We bounce off a long list of paradoxical domains, including saving the world with consumerism, metamodernism, ironic religion, virtuality, neurotheology, trauma and radical meaninglessness, the military entertainment complex, hikikomori, and zen comedy…

Episode 143 is a conversation with documentary film-maker Sanjay Rawal about his profound and inspiring movie, 3100: Run and Become — which explores the spiritual practice of long-distance running around the world, from the American Southwest, to the Kalahari Desert, to a remote mountain monastery in Japan. We discuss how Sri Chinmoy (a student of Sri Aurobindo, the founder of integral yoga), started the 3100 mile race in New York, and what it has become; how to be a documentary film-maker without engaging in cultural appropriation; endurance running as an integral yoga and an act of spiritual service; exertion as its own reward; and how ultradistance running and other endurance sports close the gender gap. This was literally a moving conversation for me — after talking with Sanjay, I put on my shoes and went for a run. I hope it does the same for you.

Episode 144 is a trialogue with film-makers Monica Long Ross and Clayton Brown about their bizarre and wonderful documentary, We Believe in Dinosaurs — and how a creationist amusement park in Kentucky provides a lens through which to examine the tense relationship between science, religion, and business in America. This is a conversation about what happens when premodern, modern, and postmodern worldviews duke it out on a landscape of rapid change for which none of them are sufficient. It’s about the surreal Young-Earth dinosaur museums of Late Capitalism. And it’s about our trust (or lack of trust), and where we put it when we lose the plot.

Go Deeper