Michael Garfield's Love Without End Tour Newsletter: 2020

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

13 April 2020

Cooped-Up Creativity: New Music • Psychedelic Eggs Galore • Future Fossils Episodes with Erik Davis & Nora Bateson

“The way we discuss what needs to be done now will shape what it is possible to do. This is not a moment to fix a machine, this is a moment to compose new cultures.”

Hey friends,

If you're feeling lonely, cooped up, or just in need of some smart conversations, I hope you'll join some of my friends and I for the weekly casual video hangouts we've been having every Sunday.  We've been talking about all kinds of things in light of our unprecedented situation: philosophy, economics, personal creative process, family life... We're having two more of these open discussions on 19 & 26 April at 2 pm Mountain. If it'd help you, I hope you'll join us. Details here.

And now, here's all of the new creative work I've bled into lately, for the benefit of everyone.

My love to all of you. Stay safe and happy, and don't forget to ask for help.

New Single: Always Catching Up

My next album continues to ooze forth at approximately one song per four months. Songwriting and production is the one place in my life where I can create art selfishly, uncompromisingly, obsessed, and etch away at lovingly-crafted intricate and living works for months or years, feeling all the while as if I'm swept up in The Great Work.

The first two songs of this as-yet-unnamed, long overdue LP are here, along with their backstories.

Here's the latest tune, on time and mind, as well as lyrics and the story of its very psychedelic origins.

Walking, according to physiologists, is a controlled fall forwards.
Toddling to tottering, all of us are always one step from and one step toward.
But life's just like that. Languages grow at the rhythm of walking pace,
and every idea you inhabit is seconds behind your Original Face...

Four New Spring Paintings

Here are four smaller (12") paintings I've cooked up in the last couple cooped-up weeks. No names for any of these. Top two on stretched canvas, bottom two on cradled artboard. Check my Instagram for different angles/lighting/context. Each one is up for grabs; I won't make prints.

Commercial break: now is a great time to buy art, because the artists need support and deals abound. If you have ever wanted to own a piece of mine, drop me a line. I will be glad to show you what I've got and give you a post-apocalyptic (half or more off) discount...


And now, two awesome conversations that I hope will help you make good sense of life right now:

Future Fossils Podcast Episode 140

Listen & Subscribe anywhere you go for podcasts.

We’re extra lucky to have not one but three amazing guests this week: culture critic and religious scholar Erik Davis, philosopher and author Tony Blake, and trickster historian Mitch Mignano. A deep dive into the mythic and mystical dimensions of our moment — including nonhuman agency, the virus as teacher, Pan and panic and pandemics, solutionism isn’t the solution, the danger of efficiency logic, and a media diet for meditation on the darkness of nature.

Future Fossils Podcast Episode 141

This week’s guest is Nora Bateson, Director of the International Bateson Institute, author, film-maker, and founder of the Warm Data Lab. Nora is a magician when it comes to getting people to live the relational and dynamic, the embodied and incompressible. I’m honored that we got to sit down for a US-Sweden Zoom call and talk about how current world events touch down in the messy and beautiful everyday.

On Coronavirus, Complex Systems,
and Creative Opportunity

A transcript of Episode 139 in which I rant about our situation from the POV of an armchair systems thinker and weird artist, invoking everyone from Alan Moore to Charles Eisenstein:

"The best possible outcome I can imagine from this is to witness all of the creative and intelligent people who have been shackled to pointless, stupid, undignified work for our entire lives rise up and create something new and beautiful together. Emergencies often elicit the best of our humanity, a concern for the true priorities of our existence. These are moments when we are called to act on what really matters, and to contribute to our communities and to the legacy that we pass on, at a time when good ideas are unusually quick to spread."

ICYMI: Free Coloring Book!

No strings attached at all, but I do hope I'd get to see your pages when you color them!  (Pictured: my friend's kid going ham on some trippy doodles.)

And that's that.  Thank you for digging in.  I hope that you and yours are safe and happy...

26 March 2020

Making Sense of the Pandemic • Free Coloring Book • New Music & Paintings

"The future is too interesting and dangerous to be entrusted to any predictable, reliable agency. We need all the fallibility we can get. Most of all, we need to preserve the absolute unpredictability and total improbability of our connected minds. That way we can keep open all the options, as we have in the past.” 
– Lewis Thomas

While in enforced isolation due to a plague, college student Isaac Newton devised our modern theories of both optics and gravity. What will YOU do with your social distancing?

This opportunity for a new creative chapter is upon us at all levels, right now. Our national and global systems were stuck on suboptimal solutions and have demonstrated their inability to handle the complex and evolving crises of our emerging planetary culture. We now have a chance to break out, dream up local answers in massive parallel, and come back together in a stronger, more resilient (and antifragile) place than where we started.

Here's a short audio essay on how to make sense of this in light of complex systems research, with dozens of links to useful information in the show notes. Hope it helps.

For those of you with a sudden surplus of free time, I've decided to freeware the previously patrons-only Future Fossils Coloring Book for your enjoyment. It's a 25-page PDF of trippy doodles (some abstract, some of a natural history persuasion) that you can print out or color on a tablet. My only request is that I get to see some of the finished results!

If you want the "full experience," here are hours and hours of free music for your streaming pleasure, with a confirmed track record of facilitating awesome art sessions:

SpotifyBandcampSoundcloud (fewer tracks there compared to the other two)

And now onto some new art!

I painted the top two pieces in collaboration with Jamie Baldwin Gaviola (@flowstatepaint on Instagram). She started the top two and mailed them to me to finish, and then I had a wild hair to "breed" the two paintings. My daughter had her first birthday this week and in the weeks leading up, the two paintings Jamie started seemed reminiscent to me of my partner (the softer pastel sunburst grid one) and myself (the edgier and bolder peacock circuitboard one). The third painting, the square of blobby motion and expressive dynamic gooeyness in the middle, is unquestionably our child.

But of course no symbol can be contained by a single interpretation, even for one (honest) person, and as with all artwork, new layers and associations will undoubtedly reveal themselves over time.  The "daughter" painting was finished the night I also completed a new studio arrangement of a song I've been kind of "pregnant" with for the last several years, a song that first started taking shape the week my partner moved to Austin to live with me in 2014 and I got lost in the Texas Hill Country on ayahuasca (but that's another story). That song, "Always Catching Up," has a lot to do with the network latencies in our nervous systems and how we're always responding to a state of the world that has already transformed into something else. 

When I first played the scratch mix of the studio track for my friends in Santa Fe, the only visible star turned out to be Aldebaran, which is associated with the Archangel Michael and with militant peacocking. It seemed like I was being drawn back into the synchronicity vortex that subsumed me for over a month in 2017 leading up to the release of the Pavo LP & Martian Arts EP (I talk a little bit about that particular Chapel Perilous in the public liner notes to those two releases). Anyway, the latest canvas finished itself that night, and now here we are.

All three of these paintings are available for sale, or if you're playing it safe with your money still want a copy, they're available as cardstock and canvas prints in my shop (Jamie and I split proceeds).

02 March 2020

Back on Tour, BioHorror, DeepFakes, Cosmic Evolution, Psychedelic Therapy, World Travel & Space Exploration

I'll keep this brief.

In summer 2017 I wrote a story about how AI would change the very nature of reality. I shared it with some friends and read it as an episode of Future Fossils, but I never tried to get it published. Then it started coming true, and I knew that I had to get it out there while we still live in a world in which the categories "real" and "fake" still make some sense.

Now folks are sharing it on Twitter. I heard today that it's effective horror. I hope it helps prepare you.

Here it is:

(Artwork licensed by Giacomo Carmagnola.)

If you find non-fiction easier, here is an essay about our accelerating evolutionary arms race with deep learning AI fakery, and why it matters that we start to take these matters seriously:

(This is not actually a conversation between Jeff Goldblum, Tom Cruise, Ewan McGregor, Robert Downey, Jr., and George Lucas. Allow me to explain.)

–––––   New Artwork   –––––

Since most of you signed up to see new paintings and an artless update might be mild betrayal, here are the collaborations that I'm working on with friends across the country, after baby goes to sleep.

None of these are done, but they're all getting close. If you want any of them, let me know...

This first one is a 24" canvas with Gregory Pettit that we started just before I moved to Santa Fe:

These next two are small (16") collabs with Jamie Gaviola

She began them both and shipped them to me to complete:

I feel extremely lucky to be working with these artists, both of whom are not just masters of their craft but awesome people. Check out their other work!

(And, obviously, follow me on Instagram to see more updates as we finish these and other pieces.)

–––––   New Podcasts   –––––

I know I always say this, but it's true: Future Fossils just keeps getting better, and I am convinced these latest episodes are some of the best yet. Here's what you've probably been missing:


The Future Fossils Book Club just had an AWESOME conversation about Borne, Jeff VanderMeer's amazing postapocalyptic biohorror novel, which remixes "cute" and "weapon," "enemy" and "family," and makes us ask important questions about personhood and love and beauty.

Next up we're discussing VanderMeer's Dead Astronauts, so get in here and join us!

(Artwork licensed by Pat Hughes.)

–––––   Upcoming Gigs   –––––

I haven't traveled much since I became a father, but if you're in Austin or Phoenix this month maybe we will see each other! I'll be playing music and giving a talk at Cosmic Music Festival in Mesa, Arizona on March 28th and speaking on complex systems and society at the SXSW Interactive party for EFF-Austin (March 14th) and hosting a live Future Fossils Podcast at The Technodelic Temple for Andromeda Entertainment (March 17th).

More info at the links below: