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FUTURE FOSSILS

Art, Science, & Philosophy for an Age of Accelerating Weirdness

An art, science, and philosophy podcast to help you navigate and integrate the psychedelic experience of a future weirder than any of us imagined. Join host Michael Garfield every week for deep, soulful, and irreverent d
Latest Episode6/6/2020

Weaving A New Prehistory to Rewild The Future - Michael Garfield at Earth Frequency Festival 2017

Ep. 145
"We are living through a health crisis, an economic crisis, a racial crisis, and a democratic crisis. Each would be historic on their own. All of them are connected. That they have struck together in this way just might be what compels our transformation."–Anand GiridharadasThis week’s episode is over three years in the making: 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. I almost didn’t post this episode at all, even after nearly two full days of editing, because it felt tone deaf to zoom out so far and discuss topics like 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.But this feature-length rant erupted from me at a time that rhymes intensely with our current moment: I was scheduled to present on futurism immediately following a heart-wrenching and visceral presentation on the (then ongoing) Standing Rock protests, and it felt right then as it does now to wield what I know in service of new stories that better serve the work of social justice. After all, it is only the alienated and colonized mind that sees climate change, racism, economic inequality, and ecological devastation as separate issues.No: if we are to truly embrace our interbeing with the biosphere (and we must), then we cannot exclude other human beings —or even nonhuman sentient beings —from our maps and models of the nondual truth of who we are.One more disclaimer: This is the last unpublished talk I gave before I started work at the Santa Fe Institute, where my poetic intuitions and armchair science scholarship have been challenged to rise to far greater rigor and discernment.I regard this two-hour screed as both one of my most inspired riffs, the closest that I ever got to a Terence McKenna sermon…but it’s also full of embryonic, raw ideas that have evolved A LOT since this recording happened.I share it with you not as a completed document but as a snapshot of a story in the weaving, and I hope you hear it as the work in progress that it was and is.Thank you and I hope you’ll take a moment to read the supplementary materials below, and support the crucial social justice orgs helping protect the lives and freedom of your neighbors here on Earth, in this especially intense and pivotal moment.For the next few weeks I am donating 100% of the sales of my original paintings and inventory of canvas prints to ACLU and Unicorn Riot. If you would like to put your money to a good cause and get some cool art for doing so, please visit https://instagram.com/michaelgarfield for details.Support this show on Patreon for over a dozen secret episodes, the Future Fossils book club, and weekly community calls, and much more. Or, better, read and share the resources below.Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield).My embarrassingly white and male list of mentions from this talk:Bruce Damer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Ernst Haeckel, Proteus (documentary), Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Diane Musho Hamilton, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Kary Mullis, Francis Crick, The Bardo Thodol (book), Ram Dass, Neem Karoli Baba, Biosphere 2, William Irwin Thompson, Marshall McLuhan, Alvin Toffler, Marie Toffler, Stewart Brand, Wall-E (film), Gregory Bateson, John Muir, Richard Doyle, Darwin’s Pharmacy (book), Thomas Henry Huxley, Gideon Mantell, Colin Elder, Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen Baxter, The Light of Other Days (book), Albert Einstein, John C. Wright, Timothy Leary, Elon MuskShare these resources:–––> Ally Tools <–––http://www.ally.tools“Whether or not you think you hold them, stereotypes shape the lives of everyone on Earth. As human beings, we lack the ability to judge each situation as unique and different…and how we group novel experiences by our past conditioning, as helpful as it often is, creates extraordinary complications in society. As modern life exposes us to an increasing number of encounters with the other in which we do not have time to form accurate models of someoneor some place’s true identity, we find ourselves in a downward spiral of self-reinforcing biases —transforming how we practice law enforcement, justice, and life online. Our polarized, irrational world calls for an intense look at what it will take to humanize each other— at traffic stops, in court, on social media, and anywhere our doubt about an unfamiliar face can lead to tragic consequences.”https://complexity.simplecast.com/episodes/7Complex systems science resources on algorithmic justice, moral economics, nonviolent policing, healing slums, countering hate on social media, and more:https://santafe.edu/news-center/news/sfis-statement-support-victims-injustice“One can’t claim to be an ally if one’s agenda is to prevent his or her own future dystopias through actions that also preserve today’s Indigenous dystopias. Indigenous environmental movements work to reject the ancestral dystopias and colonial fantasies of the present. This is why so many of our environmental movements are about stopping sexual and state violence against Indigenous people, reclaiming ethical self-determination across diverse urban and rural ecosystems, empowering gender justice and gender fluidity, transforming lawmaking to be consensual, healing intergenerational traumas, and calling out all practices that erase Indigenous histories, cultures, and experiences.”https://www.yesmagazine.org/issue/decolonize/2018/04/03/white-allies-lets-be-honest-about-decolonization/“Racial and economic inequities need to be tackled as this country seeks to recalibrate its economic and social compass in the weeks and months to come. Racism, in short, makes it impossible to live sustainably. Here’s what three prominent environmental defenders had to say in interviews this week about how the climate movement can be anti-racist.”https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/03/climate/black-environmentalists-talk-about-climate-and-anti-racism.htmlThank you for listening. Reach out any time.
5/19/2020

144 - On Dinosaurs & Holy Wars: Creationist Amusement Parks & America's Strange Relationship with Science, with Monica Long Ross & Clayton Brown

Ep. 144
This week I talk 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, but more, it is about our trust (or lack of trust) and where we put it when we lose the plot.Support this show on Patreon for over a dozen secret episodes, the Future Fossils book club and Discord server, weekly community calls, and much more.Grab the books we talk about on Future Fossils and Amazon will chip me a little of the proceeds, at no cost to you.Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield)Additional Intro Music: “Lambent” by Michael GarfieldTopics:How an Australian fundamentalist extremist ended up building a $200M “replica” of Noah’s Ark as a theme park in rural Kentucky.How Young Earth creationists can doubt geology but trust high-energy physics: their distinction between experimental versus observational science.The role of Big Money and economic development in the entire history of dinosaur science, and the use of dinosaurs as rhetorical tools (or “missionary lizards”).What’s really behind the culture wars between science and religion…and how it is that fundamentalists can come to believe they’re practicing better science than the scientists.The fractal weirdness of culture wars between different sects of American Christianity about matters of scientific investigation.Amusement parks and museums as architectural arguments for particular worldviews.Why so many people distrust science, and why people seek out preposterous but easy-to-understand narratives when history moves too fast for comfort.What it looks like when 21st Century global industry meets 1st Century religious zealotry: giant warehouses full of masterfully produced educational media for Bible propaganda.Why our origin story and Earth history will probably always be an issue of contention and an area where people will distrust scientists.How faith and hope appears in the science of the abstract and its practitioners: both legitimate high energy physics, and illegitimate cold fusion.Religious privilege versus religious freedom (and how trying to teach Genesis in high school biology is not about religious freedom, but power).Entering a recombinant flux of personal worldviews, thanks to the Web, in which all possible religions exist.What is the tipping point where an abstract risk becomes tangible enough for all of us to agree on its existence, much less a strategy for adaptation?Mentions:Bill Nye, Ken Ham, Mirta Galesic, Henrik Olsson, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, Isaac Newton, Aristophanes, Charles Darwin, Steve Brusatte, David B. Kinney, Santa Fe Institute, Large Hadron Collider, The Ark Encounter, The Smithsonian Institute, University of Kansas Natural History Museum
3/28/2020

140 - Pandemic Perspectives with Erik Davis, Tony Blake, and Mitch Mignano

Ep. 140
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.We planned to have a completely different conversation but due to the overbearing reality of the COVID19 crisis it ended up being 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.We talk Marshall McLuhan, G.I. Gurdjieff, Tanya Harrison, J.G. Bennett, Weird Studies, Acyuta-bhava Dasa, Santa Fe Institute, and a whole lot else. I would ordinarily make more of an effort to provide an exhaustive list of the books, people, and other resources mentioned in this episode, but there are so many —and I am so eager to make this conversation available while it’s still fresh and gooey. Besides, last week’s show notes were heroic in scope.Feel free to tweet at me (@michaelgarfield) if you want more info to help you follow up on anything.For more Erik Davis, check out episodes 99 & 132. For more Mitch Mignano, check out episodes 57 & 98.Erik’s latest book High Weirdness is now available as an author-read audiobook.Support this show on Patreon for secret episodes, the Future Fossils book club, and more awesome stuff than you probably have time for.Grab the books we talk about on Future Fossils and Amazon will chip me a little of the proceeds, at no cost to you.Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield)Additional Intro Music: “Lambent” by Michael Garfield
3/16/2020

139 - On Coronavirus, Complex Adaptive Systems, & Creative Opportunity

Ep. 139
This week I take a pause on interviews to share my thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic from the perspective of complex systems and network collapse—and talk about the possible silver lining we might find in a time of crisis and enforced social isolation. I hope it helps! Feel free to email me with your thoughts, questions, feedback.Support this show on Patreon for secret episodes, the Future Fossils book club, and more awesome stuff than you probably have time for.Grab the books I mention on Future Fossils at my Amazon Shop and I get a small-but-helpful kickback from the retail leviathan.Intro Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield) •Here are all of the other podcasts and reading I mentioned in this episode, followed by some useful info about the COVID19 pandemic specifically:David Weinberger on Future Fossils about how we’ve always relied on black box explanationsW. Brian Arthur on on Complexity Podcast about the economy as a complex adaptive systemDr. Mike Ryan of the WHO on decision-making under conditions of uncertaintyJamie Stantonian on the disruptive impact caused by the Gutenberg printing press“An Oral History of The End of ‘Reality’”, my sci-fi short about the philosophical challenges wrought by technological changeSamo Burja on how crisis requires a more fluid social response than institutional expertise“I did ‘The Mindscape’ thing, which was basically me sitting there in a chair, with an enormously long cigarette, sort of talking in real East-Midlands monotone – so no change there – but the essential thing about culture turning to steam, the fact that everything was speeding up so much that we seem to be heading for, what I refer to as a ‘phase transition period’, which is where one state suddenly and chaotically changes from one state to another state; like the boiling point of water.I said that I felt that we were approaching a kind of cultural boiling point, but as you know with the emergence of the cloud – I mean back then it did perhaps sound a bit extreme and a bit weird and the sort of thing that you might expect an Occultist, who clearly does a lot of drugs to say. But I think that events since then have made it look a lot more conservative as a guess at the future.”– Alan MooreWatch The Mindscape of Alan Moore on Archive.org or YoutubeHunter Maats on Future Fossils about the challenges of education and knowledge infrastructure in the Information AgeDouglas Rushkoff on Future Fossils about “present shock” and new modes of social organization for adapting to technological changeRaissa D’Souza on the collapse of complex networksMe at the Australian Psychedelic Society (Melbourne) on “May you live in interesting times”Nicole Creanza on the interplay of cultural and biological evolutionBruce Damer on Future Fossils about his origins of life researchWashington Post on Isaac Newton’s “Year of Wonders”Charles Eisenstein’s superb big-picture book, The Ascent of HumanityDr. Richard Hobday on the value of sunlight in fighting viruses and maintaining good health12 Museums Offering Virtual Tours, courtesy of Travel & Leisure•Useful info pages about the pandemic:Sam Scarpino, complex systems scientist, on solid mental and physical health advice for dealing with COVID19Worldometers real-time tracking of the pandemicARCGIS real-time tracking of the pandemic on a global mapTimeline of pandemics and their relative severityFast Company on how to lead in times of crisisThe Cut on how not to go stir crazy (mostly good exercise advice)