145 - 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 Giridharadas

This 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One more disclaimer: This is the last unpublished talk I gave before I started work at the Santa Fe Institute, where my poetic intuitions and armchair science scholarship have been challenged to rise to far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 Musk

Share these resources:

–––> 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 someone or 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.”


Complex systems science resources on algorithmic justice, moral economics, nonviolent policing, healing slums, countering hate on social media, and more:


“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.”


“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.”


Thank you for listening. Reach out any time.

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161 - On Play & Innovation with Michael Phillip: Hermes, EvoBio, Bitcoin, and Good Noise

Ep. 161
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160 - His Dark Materials: Narnia, Fillory, and Coming of Age in the Multiverse, with Stephen Hershey & Kynthia Brunette

Season 1, Ep. 160
It’s time for humankind to grow up —but it might also be more important than ever that we reconnect with our inner children and play like our lives depend on it (because they do). And so, given the in-progress BBC/HBO adaptation of Philip Pullman’s masterful fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, it feels like a great time to talk about this coming-of-age story and its cosmological questions. This week on Future Fossils, we link up with my friends Stephen Hershey and Kynthia Brunette, whose perspectives from acting and the study of human-computer interaction, as well as their deep fanship of Pullman’s writing, add up to a refreshingly fun and casual discussion of some of the biggest questions human beings ever thought to ask themselves.We talk about how translations from one medium to another affect the way we tell our stories; the media theory and logic of reinterpretation; C.S. Lewis and the important critiques of The Chronicles of Narnia; how Lyra Silvertongue is like and unlike Anakin Skywalker and other complex heroes whose success is the fall of an established social order; evolution in a cosmos where tension and opposition are required, and unity rhetoric deeply suspicious; the collapse of networks and how His Dark Materials anchors in the same archetypes as Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos; 21st Century religion and faith in the absence of objects of faith; and much more.You can follow Stephen Hershey on Twitter (twitter.com/stephenhershey) for hot takes and on Twitch (twitch.tv/stephenhershey) for games and philosophy/astrology talks.You can link up with Kynthia Brunette on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/kynthia) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kynthia/) to learn more about her and her work with MAPS.Please rate and review Future Fossils on Apple Podcasts! And if you believe in the value of this show and want to see it thrive,support Future Fossils on Patreon. Patrons gain access to over twenty secret episodes, unreleased music, our book club, and many other great things as they spill out of my overactive imagination.We’d also love to have you inour thriving little Discord server, if you’re interested in meeting other members of our awesome scene. (And if you’d like to help edit transcripts, please drop me a line atfuturefossilspodcast@gmail.com.)Intro and outro music bySkytree.Related Reading:NBC News —HBO’s His Dark Materials Does Philip Pullman JusticeThe Ringer — Jack Thorne interviewed on the HBO AdaptationEsquire —HBO Show vs. Books DifferencesRadio Times - HBO Show vs. Books DifferencesBBC - Philip Pullman WebchatRelated Future Fossils Episodes:111 - Android Jones on Analog + Digital, Painting the Sutras, & Being an Artist Dad71 - JF Martel (On Sequels & Simulacra, Blade Runner 2049 & Stranger Things 2)61 - Jamaica Stevens (On Crisis, Rebirth, Transformation)55 - "Creativity & Catastrophe" (Talk at Palenque Norte, Burning Man 2017)53 - A Very Xeno Christmas! with Evan "Skytree" Snyder14 - WESTWORLD Problems (feat. Michael Phillip of Third Eye Drops)And when you’re ready to switch it up with some psychoactive music, here'smy musicandmy listening recommendationson Spotify.

159 - Michael Dowd on Post Doom: Life After Accepting Climate Catastrophe

Season 1, Ep. 159
2021 comes in hot with Michael Dowd, ecumenical Christian preacher turned climate grief advocate, whose Post Doom Conversations are a well of wisdom for anyone prepared to stop fighting the inevitable* and start celebrating what actually can be done in these weird, scary, precious years to come. We discuss his time as an evolutionary biology evangelist and his friction with techno-optimists, what it means to live sustainably within a mature religion of place, urban scaling and collective action problems, a general theory for the collapse of market-based civilizations, and how to reorient one’s faith to planetary and secular values that allow us to accept reality as it is and avoid doing further evil to the Biosphere and each other. (*We spend a lot of time in this encounter digging underneath the surety to ask not “Is there hope,” but “Where am I still doomed by my conditioning?”)Please rate and review Future Fossils on Apple Podcasts! And if you believe in the value of this show and want to see it thrive, support Future Fossils on Patreon. Patrons gain access to over twenty secret episodes, unreleased music, our book club, and many other great things as they spill out of my overactive imagination.We’d also love to have you in our thriving little Discord server, if you’re interested in meeting other members of our awesome scene. (And if you’d like to help edit transcripts, please drop me a line at futurefossilspodcast@gmail.com.)Intro and outro music by Skytree.Further Reading:My appearance on Post Doom Conversationshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6d2VX3cx-zM“Irreversible Collapse: Accepting Reality, Avoiding Evil”https://youtu.be/iQeK04WOGaARafe Brown at the University of Kansas Natural History Museumhttps://biodiversity.ku.edu/herpetology“What if preventing collapse isn’t profitable?”https://www.postcarbon.org/what-if-preventing-collapse-isnt-profitable“Six ways to think long-term” by Roman Krznarichttps://medium.com/the-long-now-foundation/six-ways-to-think-long-term-da373b3377a4Gordon White and James Ellis on Accelerationism, Meaning, and Exithttps://runesoup.com/2020/08/accelerationism-meaning-and-exit-rune-soup-hermitix-swapcast/John Michael Greer’s The Long Descenthttps://www.amazon.com/Long-Descent-Users-Guide-Industrial/dp/0865716099Neil Postman’s Technopolyhttps://www.amazon.com/Technopoly-Surrender-Technology-Neil-Postman/dp/0679745408Zach St. George’s The Journey of Treeshttps://www.amazon.com/Journeys-Trees-Forests-People-Future/dp/1324001607Further Listening:MG on cultural mutation rates, network latency, and the collapse of civilizations:https://shows.acast.com/futurefossils/episodes/139MG with Geoffrey West on Complexity Podcast re: cities and scalinghttp://complexity.simplecast.com/episodes/35MG with Scott Ortman on Complexity Podcast re: even ancient rural human settlements obey “urban” scaling lawshttp://complexity.simplecast.com/episodes/48MG with Tim Kohler and Marten Scheffer on The Future of The Human Climate Nichehttp://complexity.simplecast.com/episodes/33MG with Mark Nelson on Biosphere 2 and the yoga of optimismhttps://shows.acast.com/futurefossils/episodes/95MG with Lydia Violet on deep ecology and community as medicinehttps://shows.acast.com/futurefossils/episodes/82MG with Jamaica Stevens on crisis, rebirth, and wisdomhttps://shows.acast.com/futurefossils/episodes/61Kevin Wohlmut reads The Next 10 Billion Years according to Ugo Bardi and John Michael Greerhttps://shows.acast.com/futurefossils/episodes/116And if you just need a breather, here's my music and my recommendations on Spotify.