99 - Erik Davis on How to Navigate High Weirdness

Ep. 99

This week’s guest is Erik Davis – one of my great inspirations, someone who has influenced me and this podcast in immeasurable ways since I first encountered his amazing criticism, histories, and “seen it all” visionary cool – I still recommend his first nonfiction book (Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information) on a near-daily basis, and his show Expanding Mind has got to be my number one most-listened podcast of all time.

Erik is a native Californian Gen X mystic who played no small part in the explosive West Coast visionary cyperpunk scene in the 1990s alongside folks like Terence McKenna, Timothy Leary, RU Sirius, Doug Rushkoff, and Jaron Lanier. But he’s taking a profoundly different stance these days, with a Religious Studies PhD in hand and a new book at the printers, drawing on his thirty-plus years experience investigating modern life’s weird marginalia to help us navigate a world in which the weird’s no longer marginal.



High Weirdness Drugs, Visions, and Esoterica in the Seventies by Erik Davis

"A study of the spiritual provocations to be found in the work of Philip K. Dick, Terrence McKenna, and Robert Anton Wilson, High Weirdness charts the emergence of a new psychedelic spirituality that arose from the American counterculture of the 1970s. These three authors changed the way millions of readers thought, dreamed, and experienced reality— but how did their writings reflect, as well as shape, the seismic cultural shifts taking place in America? In High Weirdness, Erik Davis—America’s leading scholar of high strangeness—examines the published and unpublished writings of these vital, iconoclastic thinkers, as well as their own life-changing mystical experiences. Davis explores the complex lattice of the strange that flowed through America’s West Coast at a time of radical technological, political, and social upheaval to present a new theory of the weird as a viable mode for a renewed engagement with reality."

"Erik Davis is an American journalist, critic, podcaster, and counter-public intellectual whose writings have run the gamut from rock criticism to cultural analysis to creative explorations of esoteric mysticism. He is the author of Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, The Visionary State: A Journey through California’s Spiritual Landscape, and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica."

We Discuss:

Enacting the weird through media

The 1970s understood as the sort of beginning of our darker, weirder time - capitalism, consumer credit, surveillance, paranoia, density, historical dread…

“The occult, conspiracy theory, a dark dreamlike character…is now central…the way fictions become operational as quasi-truths to navigate the post-truth environment…the popularity of psychedelics…”

Key literacies for navigating Our Weird Future

Slender Man as operationalized fiction, as a kind of “tulpa” or thought-form activated into quasi-life

The intermarriage of reality and the hoax

HP Lovecraft’s modern distance from his horrors vs. Phil Dick’s postmodern intimacy with his horrors

The Coming Age of DNA Monsters and Routinized Weirdness

“We are called upon to analyze our resistances to all variety of shifts, mutations, couplings – and unless we want to go reactionary and hold onto certain ideas we have about how humans should be, or how the world should be, we’re in a situation of a strange kind of embrace with the other.”

Distrusting the Apocalypse

Figure-ground collapse in the impression of planetary hyperobjects into our immediate awareness

Neuroplasticity and neoteny – becoming childlike in order to surf accelerating change

Future shock and getting drawn into (right-wing, fundamentalist, fear-based, racist, boundary-defending) stories as a bid for solid ground

“Not knowing who we really are is part of the game. In fact, it’s one of the great opportunities of our moment.”

Plasticity vs. Flexibility ~ Will or Flexibility 

The discipline of transforming subjectivity - religions as practical algorithms for self-transformation, not as collections of beliefs

Everything you do is a self-engendering practice

“I look at the 20th Century, and the most important thing that happened in the 20th Century is cybernetics – both the concept and the operationalism of creating communication feedback loops that begin to generate their own processes.”

“The further I go into a cybernetic model, at least for me, it needs to be ground out in a deepening relationship with animals, with weather, with food, with plants, with plant wisdom, and definitely with those peoples – in whatever traces, in whatever mutations we can encounter them now – those groups, those societies, that had a very different relationship that’s not really mediated by the machine.”

The return of the nonhuman, cultural retrieval, the archaic revival, “reanimism”

Intelligence is Everywhere

Present Shock & the collapse of history & Jurassic Park

The future of time - metaperspectival time

Zizek’s critique of Buddhism and how mindfulness has been coopted by neoliberal surveillance capitalism

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

Ep. 161
This week I talk play, innovation, noise, disruption, cryptocurrency, and trickster creativity with Michael Phillip, host of sister podcast Third Eye Drops, which I’m on A LOT –episodes102,88,58, 44 withDoug Rushkoff, 38 withNiles Heckman, 28 withBruce Damer, 21 withErik Davis, 9 withShane Mauss, 4 withErik Davis, andthis special mashup episode. This one was originally recorded as Third Eye Drops Episode 239, but I went ahead and painstakingly edited out over ten minutes of filler language and head-scratching to give you the sharpest and most-polished conversation possible. If you appreciate these conversations and the extra work I put in to make them shine, pleasesupport 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.And if you’re broke as a joke, consider rating and reviewing Future Fossils on Apple Podcasts. It helps more than you know.We’d also love to have you inThe Future Fossils Discord server, where you can find the others…Lastly, if you’re a podcaster, I recommend you get your show transcribed affordably at Podscribe.AI.Intro and outro music bySkytree.Michael Phillip has appeared on Future Fossils before:Episode 14 on WestworldEpisode 52 on Blockchain with Jennifer SodiniEpisode 67 on Magic & Media with Douglas RushkoffEpisode 135 on The Cosmic YesRelated External Sources:Buy all the books we talk about on this show from my Amazon Storefront.Lewis Hyde - Trickster Makes This WorldAndreas Wagner - Life Finds A WayAndreas Wagner - Arrival of the FittestRichard Dawkins - Climbing Mount ImprobableRichard Doyle - Darwin’s PharmacyWilliam Irwin Thompson - The Time Falling Bodies Take To LightAndreas Wagner at Nautilus - Why It Pays To Play Around(*I mistakenly said the article was published at Quanta)William Irwin Thompson et al. - The Lindisfarne TapesAdi Livnat - Simplification, Innateness, and the Absorption of Meaning from ContextPhil Ford’s Musicology Lectures on the Weird Studies PatreonWJT Mitchell - The Work of Art in the Age of Biocybernetic Reproduction(*I mistakenly said this was “Biomechanical Reproduction”)Chris Ryan - Tangentially Speaking 69 with Daniel VitalisJames Nestor - The Future of Breathing at The Long Now FoundationEvolutionary fitness landscapes visualized by @_baku89 on TwitterRelated Future Fossils/Michael Sources:MG - Cosmic Perspectives From A Fractal Planet (Burning Man 2013)MG - Advertisement is Psychedelic Art is Advertisement (2011)MG - We Will Fight Diseases of Our Networks by Realizing We Are Networks (2020)MG - “Ride It” music video (2005)Future Fossils 125 - Stuart Kauffman on Life, Physics, and the Adjacent PossibleFuture Fossils 160 - His Dark Materials: Narnia, Fillory, and Coming of Age in the Multiverse, with Stephen Hershey & Kynthia BrunetteFuture Fossils 159 - Michael Dowd on Post Doom: Life After Accepting Climate CatastropheComplexity Podcast 51 - Cris Moore on Algorithmic Justice & The Physics of InferenceAnd when you’re ready to switch it up, here aremy musicandlistening recommendationson Spotify.If you're in a tipping mood:• Venmo: @futurefossils• PayPal.me/michaelgarfield• Patreon: patreon.com//michaelgarfield• BTC: 1At2LQbkQmgDugkchkP6QkDJCvJ5rv3Jm• ETH: 0x058aCaf2dd4DB222d89D65fdDF3f0500c5622448i

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.