Art, Science, & Philosophy for an Age of Accelerating Weirdness
It's about time! Provocative, profound discussions at the intersection of science, art, and philosophy with paleontologist-futurist Michael Garfield and new amazing guests each week. For anyone who digs the geeky, unconv
This week we’re joined by Michael Phillip, host of Third Eye Drops Podcast, to discuss some of the biggest and most persistent questions in philosophy— for which he feels he received definitive answers in a recent psychedelic experience: what it means to live a life of virtue, whether the universe is biased toward a Great Unfolding integration and continued process of perfection, the nature of evil, the question of free will, our responsibility to one another and to the future…It’s a great discussion with one of my favorite podcasting peers.Enjoy!Future Fossils Podcast is entirely listener-supported. Support the show on Patreon for more inspiring extras than you probably have time for.Buy any of the books we mention in this episode through my Amazon Shop and I’ll receive a tiny kickback at no extra cost to you.Michael Phillips’ podcast:thirdeyedrops.comMichael has appeared on Future Fossils before:Episode 14 on WestworldEpisode 52 on Blockchain with Jennifer SodiniEpisode 67 on Magic & Media with Douglas RushkoffKey item in question for this conversation is Manly P. Hall’s “The Wisdom Series: The Challenge of Forever Becoming, Part 1”Mentioned:Daniele Bolleli, The Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P Hall, The Wisdom Series by Manly P Hall, Darwin’s Pharmacy by Richard Doyle, “Wizard” (Song) by Stuart Davis, Erick Godsey, Book of Job, What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, Joseph Campbell, Accelerando by Charles Stross, Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Terence McKenna, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus, Jean-Paul SartreFuture Fossils Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder feat. Michael Garfield
134 - Anthony Thogmartin on Mind, Music, and Technology
Multi-instrumentalist musician Anthony Thogmartin of Papadosio [band], EarthCry [solo project], and Seed to Stage [music production tutorials] joins us for the first time since Episode 10 to talk about navigating the exponentially expanding body of human knowledge, how interfacing with different media technologies yields new minds and selves at the intersection, and the profound creative evolution he and his band have undergone by embracing tools like Ableton Live. For the ten-plus years I’ve known him, Anthony’s optimism and enthusiasm have inspired me to seize the day and strive for new horizons, and whether or not you make music I have no doubt this conversation will inspire you as well.Future Fossils Podcast is entirely listener-supported. Support the show on Patreon for more inspiring extras than you probably have time for.Buy any of the books we mention in this episode through my Amazon Shop and I’ll receive a tiny kickback at no extra cost to you.Mentioned:Ishi Crew, Complexity Explorers Facebook Group, Scott E. Page, Mirta Galesic, SpaceWeather.com, Neal.Fun/deep-sea, Caitlin McShea, InterPlanetaryFest.org, Sam Brouse, Korg Minilogue, Ableton Push, Meow Wolf, Jessica Flack, The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, Darwin’s Pharmacy by Richard Doyle, Gary Weber, Erik Davis, A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna Haraway, The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, Plato, Thoth, Technopoly by Neil Postman, America Before by Graham Hancock, Wile E. Coyote, Star Trek, Google Translate, Ableton Live, Bitwig, Microdose VR, Android Jones, Anson Phong, Sennheiser, Magic Leap, David Block, Phaedroid, Glitch Mob, Mi.Mu gloves, Oculus Quest, Google Duo, Burning Man, Sweet Melis, The Glass Cage by Nicholas CarrDiscussed:The value of long-form media and the conversation as ways of deepening our engagement with an accelerating world.Neurodiversity and the “social molecule,” and how being different together is good for all of us.“The only reason we [human beings] made it is because we’re good at talking to each other.”Our understanding of the planet is not just expanding outward, but also inward…not just into the vastness of space but deeper into the oceans and crust and into inner space.The more attention you pour into things, the more finely differentiated they become, and things get bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. Earthcry’s concept album Identity Mitosis and its multimedia storytelling about a conversation between AI and Gaia long after the extinction of humankind.What does the future look like without us?Living at the bottleneck between the complexity of the micro and the macro.The self as a plural ecosystem and the conscience as the voice of various unconscious neural motifs erupting into consciousness.Awakening as the abandoning of episodic autobiographic memory and the vice grip of the default mode network.The egoic self as a kind of electrical phenomenon, and possibly a kind of auxiliary or emergency preservation mode (not our natural state of balanced health).Metabolic ontology and the possibility of reality itself changing with the states of the extended body-mind in psychogenic networks.The cybernetic self and how performing music is also being a part of the music technology ecosystem.The dependency of thought on the mediation of technology…handwriting vs. typing, etc., and how different selves emerge in different contexts.Polarization and our refusal to understand one another.Generation gaps in technological fluency.Is the Universal Translator not RUNNING Starfleet?Letting Ableton Live take over Papadosio.YouTube vs. Instagram.Moore's Law and miniaturization in music performance, and moving with the current of technological evolution rather than against it.Michael’s open call to developers to help us create software for controlling music and visuals simultaneously with a gestural interface in virtual reality……and Anthony’s disclaimers about why this hasn’t happened yet.Augmented reality versus virtual reality and how evolution is co-evolving with the human body and mind (not just people adapting to technology).What matters depends on the scale at which you’re paying attention.Future Fossils Theme Music:“God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder feat. Michael Garfield
133 - Brian Swimme on Telling A New Story of Our Universe
This week’s guest is mathematician and cosmologist Brian Swimme, faculty at CIIS’ Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program and author of several books, including The Universe is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation Story (which we discuss in this episode).Brian is a major voice in the conversation about the new myths required for us in an age of planetary culture, an articulate and approachable thinker whose warmth and generosity — virtues equal to his intellectual achievement —really shine through in this conversation.Brian at CIIS Brian at the Center for Humans and NatureBrian’s documentary, Journey of the UniverseBrian’s Coursera class“A lot of scientists will say, ‘I don’t have a metaphysics. I just deal with facts.’ But it’s not the case…”“Locating ourselves in time I think is the fundamental scientific or spiritual challenge.”“The Earth is closer to a living organism than it is a collection of objects.”“One of the fundamental errors of the modern period is RUINING this idea of Singularity…it’s thinking of ourselves as the intelligent species in a world that is basically a collection of objects. And then we imagine that we with our clever minds are creating technology…rather than joining a process.”“It could be that the future of science depends on the question of the within, the inner world…”We Discuss:Locating ourselves in time…The Universe is a Green Dragon: A Cosmic Creation StoryZak Stein (Episode 97)What We Learn From Mass ExtinctionsWe Are Something The Planet Is Doing Thomas BerryPierre Teilhard de Chardin (although V.I. Vernadsky coined the term “noosphere”)James P. CarseErnst HaeckelSean Esbjörn-Hargens (Episodes 60 + 113)Dr. Blue (Episode 124)Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield)https://skytree.bandcamp.com/track/god-detector-ft-michael-garfieldAdditional Music: “Valles Marineris” by Michael Garfieldhttps://michaelgarfield.bandcamp.com/album/martian-arts-epSupport this show on Patreon to join the book club and for secret episodes:https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield
132 - Erik Davis on Perturbations in the Reality Field
This week’s guest is author, culture critic, and philosopher of the weird Erik Davis, whose work has been one of my main inspirations for almost ten years. His latest work of epic scholarship, High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies, is an exploration of topics I presumed inaccessible to academic inquiry so masterful I’ve been evangelizing it for months and basically forced a copy on my boss (David Krakauer, President of the Santa Fe Institute, who was a guest in Episode 75). In this episode we peer into the intersection of psychedelics, madness, systems science, postmodernism, and religious studies to ask about the truly other that refuses to allow us a clean answer to the questions, “What is the Real?” and “Did that just really happen?” Strap in for one of the headiest and most important conversations that we’ve ever had on Future Fossils…Join the Future Fossils Podcast Patreon for exclusive perks like an extra 10 minutes of this conversation, in which Erik & Michael discuss “black goo.”Visit Erik’s website to sign up for his email updates (always wonderful) and stay abreast of upcoming events, such as his talk at the SF Psychedelic Society on Thursday Dec 19.Get a copy of High Weirdness at MIT Press.Erik’s appearance on Future Fossils Episode 99 (a kind of prequel to this conversation).My 2011 and 2012 appearances on Erik’s podcast, Expanding Mind.Erik and I discuss over video chat (part 1, part 2) the revised and expanded third edition of his book Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information.Shop through my Amazon storefront and support the show indirectly with your purchases:https://amazon.com/storefront/michaelgarfieldJoin the Future Fossils Facebook Discussion Grouphttps://facebook.com/groups/futurefossilsShow music by Evan “Skytree” Snyder feat. Michael Garfield, “God Detector”https://skytree.bandcamp.com/track/god-detector-ft-michael-garfieldMentioned:Jacques Lacan. Mark Fisher. Carol Cusack. Eric Wargo. Timothy Morton. Graham Harman. Jeff Kripal. Emelie Gomar. Bruno Latour. Albert Hofmann. Sasha Shulgin. Richard Doyle. Williiam James. Phil Dick. Cesar Hidalgo. Rachel Armstrong. Edward Snowden. Daniel Paul Schraber.We Discuss:The abyss is close to home.“The real, by definition, is not amenable to symbolization. Whatever kind of yen we have to sustain the symbolic in the face of the real is going to fail. And in that sense, the real is fundamentally traumatic.”Perturbations of the reality field.Extimacy.“That’s not me…or if it is, I’m not me anymore.”Refusing to remain within the purely human.To lean out.To open a portal.The Weird vs. The Uncanny.Fiction vs. Religion.“In some sense Burning Man and the spirituality of Burning Man, if you want to call it that – the invention of new subjectivities, the development of an ecstatic culture at this end stage of capitalism and modern mythology –in a way is a kind of later iteration of the things I saw in the 70s.”Material agency in the practice of science.“Science is not practiced by humans alone.”“Drugs as active participants in the enactment of their effects.”“The thing about thinking is that sometimes it’s really clear the way you are actively putting things together, or actively exploring.But then sometimes it seems as if you are almost kind of taken over by an idea, and then the idea has stuff it wants to do, and you are just the connector or vehicle for it. What it means to think is to be in relationship to enigmas that have things to say.”“With reductionism in general, it’s very difficult to explain novelty.”“A psychedelic compound sitting on the shelf is not psychedelic.It’s in the interaction that you explore and discover its phenomenological features.”“There’s no way out of environmental effects in the psychedelic experience - both in the set and setting, and in terms of whatever mysterious multiplicities lie in the material itself. So there’s no way to do capital S Science with psychedelics, despite the fact that they are material molecules that reliably have a certain kind of metabolic arc and can be explained in terms of how they are broken down in the body and even light up certain regions or the brain, etc., etc. I think it’s kind of wonderful. But I think that’s where the weird is: the weird is in that.The weird is in the way you can’t get out of the loop.”Psychogenic Networks and Maximal Entropy Production.“If attention is the fuel, then everywhere we turn, we’re producing self-fulfilling prophecies.”Living Fictions.Weird Studies Episode 36.Lachmann et al. 1999 re: Optimal Encoding & Fermi’s Paradox & “The symbols of the divine first emerge in the trash stratum.”“The revelation is always relativized. Once we’re in this cybernetic situation, then not only do we not know, ‘Is that noise or is that signal?,’ but even when you do get a message, you don’t get to know. Because you’ve knocked out that realm of certainty that in the past said, ‘What you’re thinking is true.’”“Now we get to see what it looks like when the symbolic order, consensus reality, breaks down, melts, mutiplies, becomes weaponized, and we try to make our way through that.And it’s not so fun.It’s not so pretty.It’s not so groovy.”Psychonautics as preparation for the insane world we now live in, where the weird has mainstreamed.
131 - Jessica Nielson & Link Swanson on Psychedelic Science & Too Much Novelty
What’s the line between being inspired and getting broken by transcendental experience? This week’s episode was recorded live at the Hook & Ladder at Minneapolis as part of a special multimedia event I did with the Psychedelic Society of Minneapolis, a group led by neuroscientist Jessica Nielson. Jessica and her PhD student Link Swanson were both dear friends of mine before they met each other and I cannot be happier that they’re doing psychedelic neuroscience research together now at UMN. In this conversation, which involves me definitely talking too much (but in the role of honored out-of-town guest, which makes it somewhat excusable), we talk about the effects of psychedelics on perception, the continua between inspiration and trauma, and what it might mean to make a machine learning algorithm trip balls. Among other things…Dr. Jessica Nielsonhttps://med.umn.edu/bio/psychiatry/jessica-nielsonLink Swansonhttps://swanson.link/The Psychedelic Society of Minneapolishttps://www.meetup.com/Psychedelic-Society-of-Minneapolis/Support Future Fossils on Patreon for over a dozen exclusive episodes, original art and music, and more:https://patreon.com/michaelgarfieldShop through my Amazon storefront and support the show indirectly with your purchases:https://amazon.com/storefront/michaelgarfieldShow music by Evan “Skytree” Snyder feat. Michael Garfield, “God Detector”https://skytree.bandcamp.com/track/god-detector-ft-michael-garfieldDiscussed: The hallucination-perception continuumTrauma and novelty in biological and cultural evolutionThe Stoned Ape Hypothesis RevivedChapel Perilous & studying mental illness with machine learningDo psychosis and the psychedelic state really have much in common?Making AI tripHow do psychedelics affect the way our brain processes perception?Pharmacogenomics and whether it might help explain The Experiment at La ChorreraNovelty and the collapse of civilizationsEvolution, learning, and addictionMentioned: Saj Razvi (Our free and public Patreon discussion) •MAPS •Santa Fe Institute (FF Episode 75) •Andreas Wagner •Terence McKenna •Stuart Kauffman (FF Episode 125) •Stuff To Blow Your Mind Podcast on Urban Animals •Werner Herzog •Dinotasia •Richard Doyle •Erowid •Robert Anton Wilson •Dennis McKenna (FF Episode 88) •Geoffrey West •Rudolf Steiner
130 - Lydia Laurenson on Identity, Community, and The New Modality
This week’s guest is writer Lydia Laurenson, editor of The New Modality, whose beat explores how people find and make meaningful lives in our era of change, anxiety, and new opportunity. For years Lydia also wrote a popular BDSM blog under the pseudonym Clarisse Thorn, an experience that has profoundly shaped the way she understands plural and mutable identity in the digital age —and the importance of protecting our right to act behind created identities in the web’s cultural commons. In this episode, we discuss the years of weird and wonderful adventures she’s had as a writer and a researcher of digital society, and how those experiences have shaped her vision for a new print magazine…Join the show's proud roster of supporters: patreon.com/michaelgarfieldTheme music: “God Detector” by Evan Snyder feat. Michael GarfieldAbout The New Modality:Kickstarter •Medium •Facebook •TwitterRelated Writings:Lydia Laurenson:“My Year in San Francisco's $2 Million Secret SocietyStartup”The Atlanticarticle about internetpseudonymsand anonymityO'Reilly article about culture's impact on social media adoptionPolicy briefs on digital media governance and polarizationClarisse Thorn’s WebsiteMichael Garfield:The Future Acts Like YouDiscussed:The Latitude Society and postmodern startup esotericism.Can we scale community? Can we continue to redefine ourselves in an increasingly regulated planet-scale society?Pseudonymity and speaking freely on the Web…the importance of being able to explore new versions of yourself, to entertain a plural identity.Reimagining the family. Coming to care about the conversation around alternative parenting approaches…having children without having a romantic relationship.3+ parent families, platonic co-parenting, co-housing distributed childcare, and other forms of interdependence emerging in our pluralistic and atomized age.Polarization, peacebuilding, and digital governance on social media.The individual as institution, the long tail, Rule 34, and the future of evolutionary vascularization.Can we design social media to help people respect each other more and foster better conversation? (And if so, why aren’t we doing it?)Mentioned:Erik Davis • Doug Rushkoff •Vice Magazine •Whitney Houston •Blade Runner 2049 •Hypermodernity •Lazarus (Graphic Novels) • Altered Carbon •Adam Curtis - Century of the Self •Her (movie) •John Perry Barlowe •Papadosio •Tricia Wang •Oprah •SXSW •The Benedict Option •Mirta Galesic •Pierre Teilhard de Chardin •Andrés Mora (writer) •Toda Peace InstituteCover Photo by Jane Hu with Model Anina Nethttp://janehu.com/ + http://www.anina.net/
129 - How to Live in the Future (Michael Garfield at Boom Festival 2016)
…in which I talk about Jurassic Park, Terminator, Pokémon, cat videos, Radiolab, Google, DARPA, Charles Stross, the Singularity, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Martine Rothblatt, Genesis P Orridge, neo-advaita nondual philosophy, and angels. (“Do you guys believe in angels?”) DISCUSSED:Bringing Heart Back To Futurism.Technological Acceleration As Psychedelic Yoga.It Doesn’t Have To Be Either/Or.Scan Lovers.Can We Have Identity Politics In A Posthuman Society?Control or Liberation?Recorded at Boom Festival's Liminal Village, 16 August 2016 — here’s the official Boom Festival video of the talk.Originally published on my archive of public talks at bandcamp, this lecture became the basis for the essay series with the same name, which you can read on my Medium blog.Support The Show: patreon.com/michaelgarfieldTheme Music: “God Detector” by Evan Snyder feat. Michael GarfieldQUOTES:The future is an idea that is constructed socially, just as insanity is constructed socially.Most people spend most of their time thinking about what the world we’re moving into is going to look like, and very little time thinking about what it’s going to FEEL like. Who we are going to be, once all this transformative change has settled into a newly-constituted world age?It’s very telling that so much of the conversationaround artificial intelligence is this notion that there’s some kind of demon emerging through the machine for us to encounter and to reckon with. That there is something we have to confront…something that may destroy us even as it transforms us. And I think that the problem here is that this is a half-chewed sandwich. We’re right there on the precipice of recognizing that we too are implicated in this global conspiracy, that we too are participating in the evolutionary process, and it falls upon us all to heal this alienation from the natural world –especially as it appears in non-human living systems and as it appears in non-human machine intelligences. And to recognize, first of all, that we are a function, we are an action, of Earth’s geology.It’s by failing to identify our own transcendental nature– our own identity beyond the opposites of subject and object, self and other, nature and culture, the made and the born – that renders the transcendental as something against which the limited identity of the egoic self has to be defended. And so we experience what could be regarded as the emergence of a planetary Christ child –as the internet swallows us and we awaken together into this planetary identity, we experience this as the intrusion of a Borg mind or Terminator: Rise of the Machines. We are capable in our understandably anxious paranoid delusion of seeing only the demonic manifestation, because it’s so much easier to reject this kind of radical transformation than it is to embrace it and to steer it. And I’m hoping that by the end of this talk you all feel slightly more empowered to participate in this future, and to participate in the growing number of people worldwide that recognize that it falls upon us as we birth a new age, to love what we create. And to infuse it with love and creativity, and not to reject this baby, but to raise it right.The mirror was believed to have terrifying spiritual properties: that a mirror can steal your soul, or that a vampire couldn’t be seen in a mirror because it had no soul. And likewise with the camera: anything that renders the previously unconscious as the conscious, anything that shows our selves to ourselves in a new way and thus creates an object out of what was originally the subject, a new “it” out of what was “I,” is going to appear to us as the monstrous.As we become more transparent to one another, we become more accountable to one another. And the accountability is in some sense the masculine structure that we see growing as the companion to the desire to share with one another as a sort of feminine urge for intimacy.As a river runs all possible ways down a mountain, the future will have more options for how to be a human being than before. It will have more ways for us to become partial and non-inclusive of the future than ever before.We are becoming more and more compatible with the machine and it is becoming more and more compatible with us, in the same way that we domesticated corn and corn domesticated us.We have this profound opportunity to invest as much beauty and love and creativity into this new space as we possibly can.