Michael Garfield's Love Without End Tour Newsletter

30 September 2020

Cutting Through: Now with an Even Longer Now & More Creative Service

No point in pretending otherwise: these are dark times. So I hope the treasures that I have to share with you help carve a bright, warm haven in the fear and loathing, and restore a sense of peace and beauty to this otherwise benighted Autumn.


Let's start with some music: twelve minutes of guitar that an executive at my all-time favorite label told me was "a perfect soundtrack for an autumn morning."

Mudras, my new EP of solo fingerstyle guitar tunes, is now live on major streaming platforms. Reviews have been entirely positive; one of my friends, a fabulous guitarist, told me that it made him cry. Maybe 12-minutes of your attention doesn't make even free music exactly "free", but I hope it's the kind of listening that benefits you:

Listen to Mudras EP

I'm also hard at work on The Age of Reunion, the insanely ambitious singer-songwriter album I've been teasing on this blog for over a decade. It's now halfway done (!) and the latest finished track, "You Don't Have To Move", is up on Patreon. Four other songs are up on Bandcamp, where you can listen to them all and pre-order the LP.


And for fellow musicians and sound artists, I just released a library of over 300 loops from some of my most inspired improvisations, recorded on tour across three years and three continents. This archive is organized into 65 tempo-matched scenes in a ready-to-jam Ableton Live set, but fans of other audio software can easily lift the WAV files as-is for use in Logic, ProTools, or whatever floats your boat:


I've been chipping away at a couple of paintings; you can follow their progress (as well as the drawings I've made in my daughter's first sketchbook and a colorful bouquet of other visual miscellany) on Instagram. But lately, much more of my time has been going into Future Fossils Podcast, which has become a totally reliable font of inspiring conversations with amazing people:

In episode 151 I talk with Jon Marro, one of the purest creative souls I’ve ever had the luck to encounter, about his relationship to time, identity, and purpose, his commitment to service and the creative life, and where he thinks we are in the Big Picture amidst all the chaos and possibility of 02020.

I speak with the ultra-talented, immediately relatable, and immensely likable Colin Frangicetto about what we’ve learned from our high-dose psychedelic experiences, from our extended and potentially crazy periods of constant synchronicity, and from traveling the world playing music and making art.

I talk with Burning Man’s resident philosopher Caveat Magister, anarchist community organizer Naomi Most, and playa trickster historian Mitch Mignano about the festival’s uneasy but remarkable transition into virtuality. We cover everything from complex systems and the evolution of the city, to the unquantifiable value of culture, to the strange ontologies emerging in our screen-bound era.

An excerpt of this conversation's transcript made it up on Lucid News, one of my favorite psychedelic culture mags, as "Can Burning Man Be Replicated Virtually?" Quick and illuminating read.


My first long-form article for Long Now, "Sleeping Beauties of Prehistory and the Present Day," explores five new discoveries, in the fossil record and in living organisms, that interrogate the boundary between the living and the dead...

...and, poetically, at the same time I was writing that I was assigned to produce a new animation for the Santa Fe Institute about what Sidney Redner learned from his survey of 110 years of physics papers — and why some scientific discoveries (what Redner calls "sleeping beauties") take so long to get noticed:

I'll part with the friendly reminder to help keep everybody safe with proper face masks. If somehow you've made it all the way to Autumn 02020 without one of these — or you just want to level up your style — check out the four designs I have up at Idea Fab Labs. You can select from head straps (which I like) or ear loops (if that's more your kind of thing) and each contains a pocket for a fancy filter, if you want to take your safety measures all the way:

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.