This week I sit down with Rak Razam and Niles Heckman – psychonauts, journalists, provocateurs, and the film-makers responsible for Shamans of the Global Village.
In a conversation too full of awesome neologisms, delightful turns of phrase, one-liners, and weird genius for me to convey it all, we talk about the role of creative media in helping usher in new modes of human consciousness – and what we’re learning those new modes might be. We finally get into WHAT those unborn archeologists listening to Future Fossils might be like…and our conjecture’s going to surprise you.
Books we Reference:
(Links are through my Amazon Affiliate account – if you buy any of these books, I get a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you. Or you can bookmark this link to the Amazon Homepage and they'll send me a tiny cut of anything you purchase.)
Octavio Rettig – The Toad of Dawn
Gabor Maté – In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
Richard Doyle – Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, & The Evolution of the Noosphere
Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment
Rudolf Steiner – How to Know Higher Worlds: A Modern Path of Initiation
Ramez Naam – Nexus
Terence McKenna & Dennis McKenna – The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, & The I Ching
Among the topics we fly by:
• 5-Meo DMT and psychedelic neurochemistry;
• Nondual philosophy and the methodologies by which the dissolution of the self-other boundary can be achieved;
• The correlation between flow states and gamma brainwaves;
• “God’s Factory Reset” and the relationship between 5-Meo DMT and endocrinological healing;
• The bizarre mystery that snails apparently operate on gamma brainwave states (“SNAILS MAKE GAMMA”);
• New forms of social media (and new ways of engaging social media) that emphasize community, fellowship, equity, listening, and other real human values;
• The possibility that it is actually the cardiac and enteric nervous systems experiencing and reporting from deep psychedelic states, while the frontal lobe is down-regulated;
• The curious phenomenon of spontaneous gesturing (automatic “mudras”) during tryptamine experiences, and what might be the cause and purpose of them;
• Intelligence in nature, distributed through countless species and systems but potentially orchestrated at an incomprehensible level of unity;
• The importance of direct experience in understanding the strange realms divulged by psychedelics, and beginning to investigate them scientifically;
• The coming wave of “technodelics” that can link human minds together into new meta-organisms and launch us into novel states of consciousness and modes of interacting with reality;
• Experimental designs for exploring the content and revelations of threshold tryptamine doses in “group mind” protocols;
• …We actually talk A LOT about snails.
• Gary Weber - http://happiness-beyond-thought.blogspot.com
“I’m on the outer edge, the lip, the cauldron of Deep Source itself. And there’s an event horizon within which, just before I can lose full egoic consciousness and the drop has become the ocean, that drop can see the entire ocean like a tsunami wave cresting on the horizon. And on that lip, on that event horizon, EVERYTHING is there. I get this incredibly tangible, intuitive sense of the ancestors – and I don’t mean just my chronological, biological ancestors, I mean all those who have gone before in the species and are still perhaps alive as discarnate intelligences on the akashic frequency level on this bandwidth just before the edge of Deep Source, or perhaps intelligences that live within the lights and within the outer edge of Deep Source.”
- Rak Razam
“Within the last ten, fifteen years, we’ve learned an incredible amount about the brain and about psychedelics and about the physical correlates of human consciousness. And we’ve found – without any shadow of any kind of a doubt – with the most rigorous neurological methods available to us – that these spaces that shamans and zen masters and other enlightened or awakened people have been getting into for thousands of years – we’ve found that these things are real.”
- Michael Garfield
“Most social media is not social media, it’s anti-social media.”
- Niles Heckman
“It’s not that the ego needs to be killed - it needs to be brought back into right relationship. And psychedelics have proven throughout the 20th Century - and no entheogens and shamanic sacraments again in the 21st - when we reduce the default mode network and lower the egoic self, we rejoin a larger sense of being, and a planetary being, and a divine being, and it seems to be the antidote to history.”
- Rak Razam
“Is it safe for us to say, then, that ‘Dream Juice Is The Antidote To History?”
- Michael Garfield
“I’ve seen enough around the corner to know what I need to do next. And it’s a deep transformation of my habits, my rituals, my relationship with life, with myself, my family, my loved ones, my community…and I think it’s the deepening of the spiritual path. And it makes it very tangible, whether I like it or not. I can hide from it, it doesn’t go away. The awareness of awareness of that thing is with me every day. That’s what it [5 MeO-DMT] has done for me.”
- Rak Razam
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This week we chat with science journalist Jessa Gamble, author of The Siesta and The Midnight Sun: How Our Bodies Experience Time, about time in the body, circadian rhythms, lunar cycles, and the science of sleep.
– Topics We Discuss:
• Cultural dimensions of human communities at different latitudes;
• Organic human rhythms versus high-frequency trading algorithm digital rhythms;
• The evolutionary history of circadian rhythms and sleep;
• What are we going to do when we settle on other planets with days of different lengths? (Like Mars, with a 24 hour and 25 minute day…)
• NASA scientists trying (and failing) to live on Earth on Martian time;
• The natural history of biphasic human sleep and the (VERY RECENT) cultural construction of the “8 hour night”;
• How the lengths of our circadian cycles actually differ from person to person;
• The ethical complexities and possible social consequences of research into human enhancement;
• How Douglas Rushkoff learned to hack his monthly schedule to align with lunar cycles and increase his productivity by 40% by doing LESS work;
• The differences between how humans and dolphins sleep;
• How and WHY we might want to defeat sleep once and for all…
• …and WHAT ABOUT DREAMING??
– Media We Reference:
(Links are for my Amazon affiliate account - buy ANYTHING on Amazon through these links and a % of the sale supports this podcast, at no cost to you.)
• The Siesta and The Midnight Sun: How Our Bodies Experience Time by Jessa Gamble
• Northern Exposure (episode with Joel Fleischmann going manic due to 24 hour sunlight)
• 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith
• Insomnia (Stellan Skarsgård & Robin Williams)
• Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff
• Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
• Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari
• Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Harari
• One Taste: Daily Reflections on Integral Spirituality by Ken Wilber
The Last Word on Nothing:
Here’s her TED talk:
And here’s her archive of articles at The Atlantic:
On salt intake in Russian Cosmonauts and how we might be wrong about salt:
Giulio Tunoni at the University of Wisconsin and their Sleep Center’s work to minimize the amount of necessary sleep:
On the correlation between lunar cycle phase and neurotransmitters:
Vlad Vyazovskiy’s Oxford Sleep Lab:
– Jessa Quotes:
“The almost-definition of being sleepy is, you cannot really learn anymore.”
“Sometimes, the awful consequences that are supposed to be punishment for acting like a god don’t actually happen.”
“What we’ve decided to do [with sleep research] is look at the fact that we’re all sleep deprived, that it’s making us unhealthy, that it’s making us accident-prone, that it’s making us stupider – because sleep is the most effective cognitive enhancer that we know about. The fact that we’re sleep deprived is then met with a whole slew of people who say, ‘Well, so we need to sleep more. This is the solution.’ But there are other things that we could be doing, like seeing if we can cut down on our actual NEED for sleep, so we can do more of the things we’d like to do more of.”
“What I would encourage people to do, if they’re zooming out on the problem or question of sleep, is to think about quality of life, what makes life great, and maybe take a page from the actuarial tables – which adjust for things like disability, years spent with crippling diseases and so on. And surely being unconscious has to be the most debilitating of all states. And if we’re spending a third of our lives in this state, could this be different? And should we put some effort into looking into this?”
– Michael Quote:
“Multicellularity was a technological singularity. Photosynthesis and Glycolysis was a technological singularity. Written language, and before that even, spoken language, was a technological singularity. So it’s good to keep that in perspective.”
This week we chat with Daniel Zen, former Google engineer, technology instructor at zen.digital, NYC Regional Coordinator for Burning Man, coordinator for the Angular.js NYC Meetup, and general high-tech wizard.
Some of the topics we discuss:
• The curses – and blessings! – of runaway technological surveillance (and sousveillance, and coveillance…).
• How adolescence and sexuality have changed for children growing up with the Internet.
• The future of festival culture and how it is a testbed for disaster relief technologies.
• The danger of putting your medical devices online (the hackability of the Internet of Things)
• What happens when we RECORD EVERYTHING
• The isolating effects of Virtual Reality and how to create interactive spaces that allow us to share in the experience.
• The collapse of VR, AR, and MR into just: “reality”
• How TV, digital photography, and streaming video has changed the way we think about sharing our lives, perceptions, and emotions.
• Adapting to an age of accelerating change by staying curious and loving learning
• Concerns about technology’s role in widening the gap between the poor and the ultra rich.
• The internet as a kind of “planetary cathedral” and re-envisioning our lives in light of a project that extends beyond the horizons of our individual lives.
“The festival world has changed, where now everybody has a cell phone and the ability to take pictures. And very much I believe, and the community I’m in believes, in consent when it comes to photography. Especially when people are in maybe a greater state of undress. Now we’re in a world where surveillance is much more prevalent…”
“I’m a believe in bringing off-line technology to Burning Man. I don’t like the concept of being online at Burning Man, but I do like the concept of technology at Burning Man. I’d love to see an INTRANET at Burning Man…without any connection to the outside world. And such a system, if it were implemented well, could be of use in disaster situations.”
“Unfortunately, we are a society that enjoys convenience – and we are all too ready to give up our privacy for that convenience.”
“I’m not one of these guys that’s like, ‘Hey, the Singularity’s happening, Oh My God!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, OF COURSE it’s happening, duh, I mean can’t you see that?’ It’s so blatantly obvious to me I don’t feel the need to argue it. It’s just part of my reality. I accept it as much as the air I breathe.”
“The haves and the have-nots is a really scary situation.
“If the sea level rises, we want the city to rise with it.”
“The way that people play poker when you can see someone else’s hand is fundamentally different. There’s no body shame in a nudist colony. We’re going to have a much healthier relationship to living in public, in a few decades, than we do today.”
“I don’t really know which version of the future is better: one in which we can keep our secrets, or one in which we can’t.”
“We’ve been living in an audio-only virtual reality since the invention of the Walkman.”
“I hold out hope that it’s the desire to keep everyone in the game that ends up that ends up winning this for the human species.”
“Couldn’t we maybe upgrade it from Burning Man to Composting Man?”
• Kevin Kelly, author of The Inevitable
• David Brin, author of The Transparent Society
• Dadara (aka Daniel Rozenberg of Solipsmission)
• Google Latitude
• Burning Man
• Gregory Bateson
• William Gibson (“Cyberspace is where you are when you’re on the phone.”)
• Lynn De Rothschild’s proposed Universal Income
We’re switching it up this week to present my recent talk on psychedelic futurism at the first weekly meeting of the Australian Psychedelic Society (Fitzroy Beer Garden, Melbourne, Victoria).
The Chinese have a curse: “May you live in interesting times.” The Irish have a toast: “May you be alive at the end of the world” I’m more Irish than Chinese, and I know this because even though we’re living through total chaos these days, that means unprecedented opportunity for wonder, creativity, discovery, and growth.
- How to enjoy life in an age of mass extinction and the imminent transformation of the human species through genetic engineering
- CRISPR and evolution “in real time,” within the lifespan of “individual” organisms
- The self as a multitude of distinct neural “motifs” and how each of us is a village (or a bouquet)
- Living through “a trans-technological, trans-nature” renaissance
- The sharing economy, nonmonogamy, global citizenship, access vs. ownership as symptoms of a global transition to more freely exchanged modular selfhood
- How each of us is basically the sexually mature larval form of our ancestors and how staying “childlike” has empowered us with special powers as a species
- The future of work as a world in which there are as many different kinds of work as there are people
- The spiritual and philosophical implications of “teledildonics”
- What replaces “privacy” in an age of universal coveillance and mutual accountability
- Why we shouldn’t judge the world and lives of our software based digital human descendants
- Tim Leary’s “Just Say Know” as a better approach to technologies (since all technologies are psychoactive, and so tech and drugs should merit similar approaches)
“To the extent that we recognize that who we believe ourselves to be is a story our brain is creating instinctively and automatically, we can be more conscious about that, and we can inhabit different self-concepts as it suits us.”
“What we’re learning about the origins of life is that it wasn’t like suddenly the cell occurred, with a membrane already on it, and credit card debt, and alimony payments. This happened in stages. And the first stage, what we believe the first life form to be…was a soup of self-reproducing molecules that didn’t really have clear self-other division. And even now, bacteria are very promiscuous and free about the exchange of their own genetic information with one another.”
“When everyone has a 3D printer at home, you’re not going to go to a dealer. You’re going to print your own drugs.”
“Each of us is the still point at the intersection of colliding infinities.”
“It’s not so much that we’re coming to ‘The End of Jobs’…it’s that we’re coming to a world in which everybody’s jobs is basically unique to them.
“What is a human being? A human being is a pattern that occurs within a field of organization. You’re never the same stuff from moment to moment. Even the same atoms are blinking in and out of virtual particle states. So what are you more fundamentally than a pile of soup and bones? You are the pattern of information that exists within this electromagnetic field. And then…as Gregory Bateson said, information is ‘the difference that makes a difference.’ Information doesn’t exist unless it’s observed. Unless it’s understood. Information and consciousness are two perspectives on the same thing. So to recognize ourselves as, more fundamentally, fields of information, is to recognize ourselves as more fundamentally a nonduality of material and immaterial.”
“The story that we tell about ourselves is something that can be tweaked, hacked, reprogrammed, assumed, dropped. These identities end up becoming more like costumes that we are are able to remove and wear as appropriate.”
“This is part of the anxiety of modern existence: that as we become more and more transparent to one another, as we become more connected, we’re becoming more vulnerable, and our definitions of security have to change accordingly.”
“A good idea is better shared.”
EPISODE ART BY ADAM SCOTT MILLER: http://adamscottmiller.com/
This week’s guest is travel guide Simon Yugler – named one of Open World Magazine’s “Top 30 Adventurers Under 30,” Simon facilitates initiatory experiences as the leader of experiential education journeys for young adults.
Here’s Simon talking to UpliftConnect about the difference between “wanting to help” and “wanting to be of service”:
- “What cultural exchange looks like from a place of transformation and healing.”
- Decolonizing Festival Culture.
- Right Relationship & the difference between “Citizen Diplomacy” & “Mission Work.”
- What it means to be a respectful guest.
- The difference between tourists and locals: tourists look up (novelty and wonder).
- What travel has to teach us about navigating our turbulent and transformational age.
- How rootless modern people (digital nomads, refugees, wandering Jews, and so on) can reconnect with a sense of place and become a “person of place.”
- How to RECEIVE people with respect and be a good host for travelers and displaced peoples.
- Avoiding the dark side of entrepreneurialism, the exploitation and instrumentalist thinking, and turning our hunger into the fuel for something beautiful…
The Five Principles of Right Relationship:
• Give Offerings of Respect
• Shut Up & Listen
• Know Your History (Do Research About Where You’re Going/Are)
• Love of Language
• Sharing From The Heart
“Travel will leave you speechless and then turn you into a storyteller.”
- Ibn Battuta
“I think there’s something almost archetypal and profound about leaving your home, country of origin, about leaving your comfort zone and traveling OUT into the world…let’s just start there. Initiation 101.”
“Coming to terms with my own liberal conditioning of wanting to save the world…all these things we’re raised to think in America these days, and learning to let that all go. And realizing that all I can do as an individual is build authentic relationships with people.”
“One thing Right Relationship ISN’T is wanting to come in and FIX.”
“If we don’t have anything to give – which I doubt – we can give the gift of silence.”
“Once you start on the initiatory path it continues for your whole life. Eventually, part of that is initiating others.”
“We can share stories about how the world is burning down and imploding, or we can share stories about how the world is being created. We can play a part in that.”
“For me, to put it lightly, travel has been an initiatory path.”
“Everything that could go wrong while traveling in Africa DID go wrong. I had no money, I had one contact in the town I was showing up in whose phone happened to be out of commission, my phone credit ran out and I didn’t know how to recharge it because I didn’t know how to speak Swahili, and here I am in the middle of the country in this dusty little savannah town with no-one I know in a thousand miles and no money and no language skills and nothing…”
“Knowing that people across the world are good, for the most part, and for the most part want to help you, is one of the most powerful and transformative messages that we can experience and share. Because if you turn on the news – I don’t know why you’d do that, these days – but if you were to turn on CNN, you would get barraged with information about how dangerous and terrible the world is. Travel can instill these experiences in your life that prove the complete opposite of that.”
Referenced in this episode:
Michael Mead, writer
Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift
Nelson Mandela, politician
David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous
Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding: A Guide to the Uncommon Art of Long-Term World Travel
Ibn Battuta, legendary explorer
Victor Turner, anthropologist
Bruce Chatwin, author of The Songlines
The Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars
David Dang Vu, serial entrepreneur
Paul Levy, writer
Seth Godin, marketing expert
Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek
Chris Guillebeau, author of The 100 Dollar Startup
Duncan Trussell, comedian
Debbie Millman, host of Design Matters Podcast
Drew Dillinger, poet, “The Hieroglyphic Stairway”
This week’s guest is the artist, gallery owner, podcaster, web designer, and musician Aunia Kahn! Among her many notable achievements, she curates Alexi Era Gallery in Oregon, hosted the Create & Inspire Podcast, and survived eleven years housebound with disability to emerge more creative, passionate, and powerful than before.
In one of this podcast’s more rambling conversations, we discuss:
- Internet & Cellphone Addiction (and the problem of “gameifying” everything to seize attention).
- How the internet has changed the ways we present ourselves to one another online, splintered our identities, and changed our sense of time…
- Using technology (especially social media) instead of letting technology use you.
- Comparing the Internet and Organized Religion, and how institutions serve the role of “tigers” in the modern “jungle” of society.
- Looking at the historical context of disability and the relative nature of contemporary problems.
- How disease can shock us into a deeper sense of mortality and urgency with respect to our creative work.
- How sometimes the big life events change us…and sometimes, they don’t.
—Quotes from Aunia Kahn:
“Stop worrying about people judging you. Just make it.”
“If you people don’t like it, I’m sorry, stop following me. I’m not living my life to please you…I’m not going to sit there and pretend that I’m three different people, and that’s kind of what this digital age has created.”
“Where is that fine line? I’m taking it [the smartphone] to the dinner table and I’m not even paying attention to what I’m eating, I’m posting something to Instagram while I’m shoving food in my mouth, and I’m wondering why I’m choking! It’s dinner time. We’re going to put the phone somewhere else. It’s not work time.”
“Where do you get your value? Do you get your value from social media or do you get your value from true real conversations with people, like we’re having? Where is that true interaction?”
“I don’t think a lot of people are technologically consumed yet that they realize they’re missing out on the human, the real, the not-virtual. And having already gone through that, I just want to grab people and say, ‘PUT IT DOWN AND EAT YOUR DINNER!’ Everywhere you go, it’s always cellphone-to-your-face. Nobody’s looking at the trees, at each other…over time, people will start to crave the more-real, the tangible, the touching…we need that.”
“EVERYBODY’S valid. Everybody’s creativity is valid. I don’t care if I dislike it or not. Every human being on this Earth has value. Old people…are just like, ‘I’m going to live my life and if you don’t like it, kiss my ass.’ We should adopt that earlier on.”
This week, we spend some time with Joanna Harcourt-Smith, "Swiss-born British socialite," host of the Future Primitive Podcast, and author of Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary: My Psychedelic Love Story.
Michael on Joanna’s 500+ Episode Podcast:
Check out her archives. They’re amazing.
"God IS A Sense of Humor"
"Know That You're Everything"
“To me, people are mushrooms. My claim to fame was the fact that I found the mushroom Timothy Leary in the forest. And I had to eat that mushroom so I could really start to flex the accordion of my being.”
“I don’t even know that there IS a past and a future. The numerous psychedelic experiences I have been gifted with by life have told me that there is NO past and there is NO future.”
“Everything lives. Everything wants to live. Nothing dies, it just becomes composted and intertwined with each other.”
“When I make a soup, it’s like painting. Getting all these ingredients together is so exciting, it’s so alive. Somebody says to me, ‘That’s so delicious. Can you give me the recipe?’ ‘I can’t give you the recipe! Don’t be crazy! It’s impossible! It just happened in this moment and it will be forever, because it’s inside of us. Okay?’”
“There are several parts of myself looking at what’s going on, and it’s like, I used to be depressed by the committee going on inside of me but now I ALWAYS have fun with the committee! I mean, I’ve got my own theater going on here…” [laughs]
“At my age, either you amuse yourself with knee replacements, or…gratitude becomes the greatest element of your life. That’s the key. I mean, THAT’S the key.”
“Instead of choosing your work, I would highly recommend that you choose your play.”
“The play, at the end of the day, is a lot more important than the work.”
“This person you are talking with, what do they long for? And how can I participate in this longing?”
On getting Timothy Leary out of prison:
“It was useful to the left because he was a martyr. And it was useful to the right because he was a scapegoat. So I quickly saw that that situation was absolutely practical for everyone involved. Except for this young woman who was LONGING for this interesting man. I’m always longing for somebody I can have a good conversation with. And just doing it in prison wasn’t enough…It was impossible. And in a sense, I love that.”
“They stripsearched me because I was the paramour of the good doctor. But it was clear to me that the best place to hide the drugs was my ‘innie’ belly-button. They never thought of that.”
This week's guest is the delightful and insightful Susan Molnar!
“Everything can be broken. But also, everything can be built. And sometimes, breaking it and then rebuilding it makes it even cooler.”
Tech & Maker Education for Children
Google Policy Fellow for American Association for People with Disabilities
We Laugh A Lot
(Where does my body end and somebody else’s product begin?)
Programming Good Programmers
The Problem & The Promise of Education
“There’s this student who comes in who’s like, ‘I’ve never touched a computer in my life and I don’t know how to do this. I can’t do it, I can’t do it.’ So I was like, ‘Look. Nobody was born knowing what a pixel is. A pixel was invented. This mouse? This mouse was invented. You can learn a system. Tell me about things you have learned in your life that you have been able to use to progress from. Let’s start there.’”
“I am not a person of color. I have a disability, but I don’t have some of the disabilities that my friends have. If I can use who I am to work in concert with who they are, either to have a larger voice or be empowered to do more…”
“If you’re not good at the front of the house, there’s plenty of work to do in the back of the kitchen. If you have the ability to give, I think you should be trying to how to do that successfully. Are you able to humble yourself when you need to? And are you also able to value yourself when you need to?”
“Yes, you should be serving in a way that’s unique to your gifts. But also understanding that just getting out there and doing it is important.”
Johns Hopkins Enable Project - 3D Printing Prosthetic Limbs from Freeware Downloads
Preparing Your Children For A World That Isn’t Ready Yet
Helicopter Parents & Quadcopter Parents
Teaching Kids Where The Invisible Lines of Society Are So They Don’t Cross Them
Building & Breaking vs. Creating & Destroying
Technology As Children
Training AI Like A Pet, Letting It Skin Its Knees
Integrating Failure & Breakdown & Surprise & Difficulty
Stanford Design School: Rapid Ideation, Fail Fast
Douglas Rushkoff and New School Media Theory
Google Glass & Microsoft Hololens
Project Springfield - cloud-based machine learning for bug eradication
VR & AR disrupting learning and education
Susan Sontag and the violent language of photography
The archetype of glass and how we’re living in the “Glass Age”
Literalizing the fairy-tale concerns of losing one’s self to magical objects and devices
Neil Postman’s Technopoly & the surrender of culture to technology
The Media Show on YouTube
Producing vs. Consuming Media – building something new vs. merely mimicking
Helping the ways you can, that other people can’t, rather than wasting yourself with the most obvious (but overpopulated and possibly less effective) strategies to donate time, energy, and effort. Help in the ways you’re uniquely able.
Are millennials really that entitled? Or are we just strung out on “success pron?” Should we not try to serve the world in a way that we’re uniquely able to?
But this podcast REALLY takes off in the last five minutes:
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality and how the future of media is a continuation of the “reducing valve” model of our own nervous systems, filtering information for the conscious observer before that witness is aware of it. Before awareness. (What’s aware?)
The co-evolution of computers and people for something more COMFORTABLE, ergonomic, actually (!) GOOD for our bodies… (see: Microsoft Kinect, gestural keyboards swiftly replaced by natural language processing and brain-machine zero-UI systems)
“It used to be, ‘Science is over here! Art is over here! We have anthropologists, and we have sociologists. Why would we ever want to mix these?’”
This week's guest is the loquacious, thoughtful, and profound JF Martel, film-maker and author of Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice and the three-part essay Reality is Analog, about the philosophical themes lurking behind Netflix's series Stranger Things.
We discuss what can and cannot be captured and communicated digitally…
The Primordial, Deep, Subrational Forms of Poetry, Madness, Excess…
“Ultimately, art does have a function: it’s to help us better navigate the infinite chaos that is reality.”
The problem of overusing or misusing Occam’s Razor
“We understand the nature of reality the moment we admit that we don’t know it…the moment we admit we CAN’T know it.”
“Every concept kind of contains its own opposite, or casts its own shadow.”
The difference between a Sign and a Symbol
Faith or Rebellion? (Patriotism or Treason?)
Azazel the Peacock Angel vs. Lucifer the Rebel Angel
Is there an ultimate reality?
“It’s really, really tough to make great art. It’s tough to make GOOD art.”
About Hollywood: “I don’t think collaboration has ever been a great friend of art.”
“The equipment is changing so fast that no one gets GOOD at anything anymore…it’s hard to MASTER anything, today. But I think we’re moving toward something better than what we’ve had.”
The old and new paradigms of film and TV production
“[Netflix is] using the digital culture we’ve developed to make great films in the way that maybe they should always be made, which is: you identify the people with vision, and you put them in charge.”
Technology: Inevitable? How Japan said no to guns for hundreds of years…
“A society that presumes that it knows the real and can dictate its course…it is doomed to failure.”
“We are finite and live in the infinite. You can’t accrue more of the infinite.”
Staying in touch with the nonhuman.
“We’re made out of forces we can’t control. But at the same time we have a certain amount of control over how conscious we are of that. And we need to become more conscious of that. And Art helps us become more conscious of that in an objective sense, and Art helps us become more conscious of that in an empirical sense…it points out areas of the Known that need to be reconnected to the Unknown.”
How to be an esoteric workaday dad mystic artist weirdo
“I think we need to become more religious…I mean in tune with that transcendent, imminent Thing.”
“Once your roots go down infinitely, you have LICENSE to love iPhones.”
“We’d buy stuff, we’d put it in the movie, and then we’d return it intact. I felt like we were doing real alchemy…”
Michael tells one of his most bizarre and curious accounts, of a haunted camera acquired by pranking a corporation…
“Infinite meaning is tantamount to meaninglessness.”
“Artistic creation is fundamentally dangerous, in the sense that you’re moving out of the Terra Firma of the known into areas that are unknown, or you’re looking at things from an angle that’s alien to the perspective you inherited from your tribe or your culture. So there’s a REASON why so many artists end up fucked up or dying horrible deaths…I think there’s a fundamental danger that we need to recognize, especially as we enter into projects or creations that are actually visionary, that are actually pushing into something.”
“I think you can allow for quite a bit of synchronicity to enter your life, as long as you can handle it.”
“All you have to do is read Van Gogh’s biography, and you can ask…was it worth it? I think it was worth it. Maybe there’s a notion here of sacrifice. Maybe certain people are so willing to go out there and produce these visions that they’re willing to sacrifice themselves. That sounds crazy today, because we don’t have the vaguest inkling of what sacrifice means in this culture.”
“Maybe you need the tragic. Maybe the tragic is indelible…and that’s what makes creation so beautiful.”
WWDT: “What Would Dostoyevsky Think?” (Ask yourself about the opinions of your revered artist heroes when you’re working on a piece…)
“The responsibility is on each individual person to use these tools in the best way possible in an environment that discourages it on every level.”
“Mainstream American culture since the end of the second World War has been predicated on the need to distract ourselves from The Bomb.”
“All in all it seems like the dirty secrets are coming out, and that can only be good.”
Analog vs. Digital Epistemologies…Reality is Analog/Reality is Digital
“I couldn’t believe that reality was analog if I didn’t believe it was also digital.”
This week our guest is Tibet Sprague, former solar energy system manager and scholar-practitioner in search of sustainable alternatives to our unhealthy post-industrial communities.
http://tibetsprague.com for all social links, writings, and project info
What it was like for Tibet growing up in a healthy community.
The difference between communities online and in person.
The possibility of a virtual nation, a modern silk road of digital nomads moving in between communities…
…but the issues with that, primarily its unsustainability, and the importance of working to create local communities and tribes.
The tension between freedom and fullness of living, independence and interdependence as valued differently by different societies.
What does it truly mean to be free and to have a society that promotes freedom?
How our individual drives are sculpted by the agencies of our environments and the people with whom we surround ourselves – so even the drive for independence is a symptom of our interrelatedness.
The challenge of building a decentralized society of loners and how culture itself may be the one true technological solution.
“My thinking about what I want to work on in the world has headed from initially thinking, ‘Oh, climate change is the most important thing to be focusing on right now, obviously,’ to ‘Maybe we can’t really resolve our climate issues without changing capitalism and changing our economic system that requires constant growth,’ and ‘Oh, well, maybe we can’t actually change our economic system without a culture that changes people’s relationships with each other, and with money, and with the world.”
“I think a lot of individual work, personal growth work, each one of us doing our own work to resolve the things in us that prevent us from living our most enlivened selves and bringing our gifts into the world, is really important.”
How Charles Eisenstein helps us articulate the core problems of, and potential solutions to, the crisis of our current age:
From separation to oneness, from scarcity to abundance.
The crisis of imagination that we don’t think it’s possible for our planet to provide for everyone.
Universal Basic Income - how it could liberate us to get culture right, or how it could be poorly implemented and create new problems.
Charles Stress’ novel Singularity Sky as one example of how unprecedented sudden affluence can ruin a society.
Might it not be for a very good reason that massively disruptive technologies we WANT (like free energy) are being (or ought to be) WISELY suppressed by the system (and/or ruling classes)?
Ramez Naam’s Nexus Trilogy as a model for how society might variously adopt and resist disruptive technologies – how technological telepathy specifically might be used by a variety of different factions, and suppressed by nation-states that want whatever vestige of control remains in eras of extraordinary change…
Tamera Healing Biotope in Portugal and their experiments in community living, the healing of interpersonal issues, processing group needs, and building toward a future that includes and nourishes us all.
The role of fearless love and re-imagined intimate relationships in new modes of community designed for peace.
The difficulty of making powerfully positive but culturally unusual steps toward love free from fear.
The Sex 3.0 Wiki and understanding sexuality as a cultural phenomenon shaped by the distributed agency of our technological surround – the enclosure and ownership of land, paternity, etc. all contributing in big ways to our current preference for monogamous mate claiming partnership.
The relationship between digital society (with its emphasis on sharing everything) and the resurgence of nonmonogamy.
Mystics and Moralists as two responses to change.
The plurality of belief systems, adaptability, and resilience.
“We can embrace the fullness and complexity of everything that’s happening in a balanced way that I believe will lead to a much more harmonious way of being on the planet.”
Moving out of an age of answers and into an age of questions…
The invention of Inheritance Day and the awesome idea of a new holiday in which we honor our ancestors and realize that we, too, are ancestors.
And lastly, just a dash of speculation on the Simulated Universe Theory and our participation in what Tibet calls “this fractal godhood…”
“If the future is watching, then don’t you want to say something valuable?” – MG
De-Anthropomorphizing The Universe / Science & The Filter Bubble
with Cory Allen, Audio Mastering Engineer & Mindfulness Trainer, Host of The Astral Hustle Podcast
“It’s just all what is. And I accept every state of being as glorious.”
Two dedicated truth-seekers and cosmos-abiders make a lot of dirty jokes and somehow manage to harmonize their angles on the practice of rigorous inquiry into the nature of reality and consciousness…
We have a totally tangential, irreverent, penetrating conversation. (Luckily for you it’s audio only.) Somehow it all hangs together…much like Cory and I would, if they ever found out about the unrecorded parts of this chat. (Kidding!)
• The paradox of having a podcast that emphasizes memory and continuity having SO. MANY. RECORDING. GLITCHES. Bizarre plumage that doesn’t fossilize and how truly precious little we know of the ancient world.
• Noticing what weirds you out: your surprise reveals your expectation.
• Cory Allen’s “creepy” super intense memory – and memory versus recordings – isn’t it kind of wrong to rely on recordings to justify or validate the way we feel right now?
• Feathered dinosaurs screwing up our whole perception of dinosaurs as monsters. Scales versus feathers and how humans are so quick to judge based on the surfaces…
“Got a face? We’ll give you the time of day. Worms? You’re going to be laboratory experiments. Snakes? We’re going to use you as a symbol for evil in the entire course of Western Religion because you have no arms and legs. You’ve got a face, but you’re the face of evil. Try again. But rabbits? Dogs? Cats? We take care of them because they’re furry.”
• Encountering the dragon on the edge of the map and realizing that it’s you…versus not being able to see the faces of the people you’re firing on as a drone pilot. The closer you get to “it” the more it is you.
• The value of noticing our projections and how we colonialism the world “out there” with our own ideas and imaginations. Everything we think about HUMAN consciousness is just CONSCIOUSNESS.
• Taking the human element out of consciousness.
• Vocabulary Word: Allopoeisis: the process of becoming the other.
• Talking with animals to explore the nature of consciousness from as far beyond our human filter as we can. (How much are we anthropomorphizing Koko the Gorilla’s command of language?)
• Watch out for clamping down on the word “is” when trying to relate your personal experience…as soon as you’re talking about “how it is” you’re not paying attention to your own subjectivity and recognizing its role in your experience.
• We never see beyond the virtual reality of our nervous system, but it’s also the case that there is no separation between self and other in the ecosystem that precipitates “them” “both.”
“On the one hand you can never really know the other. On the other hand, you never know anything BUT the other.”
“Because you ARE the other.”
• Seeing through the academic pretense of objectivity to the necessity of describing the full details of your instruments (including your own nervous system) used in your experiments. The impossibility of perfectly replicating an experiment. Data from studies of psi phenomena show self-verifying results dependent on the belief sets of the experimenter – both positive and negative – even in very tightly controlled and blinded studies.
• The politics, stress, absurdity, and pressure of the academic world and how it inhibits the very exploration to which it’s devoted. Cory’s friend who worked on the roundworm C. elegant and the nature of his research…and near-madness undergoing the completion of his PhD program.
• The social construction of knowledge: this is where “facts” come from, people!
• “School” and “Scholar” comes from a word that meant “leisure.”
• The more narrowly focused our attention, the more we have to compete for one another’s attention. The social ills of the filter bubble. The diminishment of chance encounters and surprise interactions because of our constricted and self-reinforcing “reality tunnels.”
• The Nutcracker is an awesome, very self-aware ballet…which Cory would have never seen if he hadn’t gotten outside of his own bubble.
• The documentary “Century of the Self” and how marketing has gone from advertising products to advertising lifestyles and appealing to the consumer’s ego.
• How diversity and redundancy are essential to the health and vitality of society (as with any ecosystem). How we NEED oppositional perspectives to enrich the whole – and what would happen if Trump and Clinton supporters could recognize this? When will this be common sense?
• Michael’s spiritual practice of listening to radio stations he wouldn’t ordinarily choose and finding out why millions of people tune in and enjoy those stations.
“You can appreciate it without liking it.”
“You have to look at it long enough until you see yourself in it.”
• Advertising fake products from the future.
• The intimacy of evolution and extinction, entropy and complexity.
• Astrosexuality and the CRISPR-induced end of identity politics. The future of identity: radically creative and diverse, or a mushy bowl of oatmeal?
“I think everyone will become so nuanced in their identity that it becomes a tapestry…everyone’s going to be SO individual that we’re all going to be exactly alike.”
• If your social media followers were actually following you around in the street, and you had to turn around and talk to however many of them, how would that change the way you think about your platform as a creator? (“How would it change what you’re saying and how absurd it is?”)
This week, we take an hour to explore the frontiers of the human experience with Trevor Goodman of the Body Hacking Conference in Austin, Texas.
Here’s a bit about the conference from NPR:
• Cybernetics, prosthetics, nootropics, body modification, bionics…
• The origins and history of “body hacking.”
• Body modification as an answer/solution to body dysmorphia (feeling out of place “in your own skin”).
“Frankly, we have no clue how things are going to be in ten or twenty years. Twenty years ago we weren’t carrying our memories around in our pockets like we are now.”
• How modern transhumanism is just an extension of the ancient human project that includes clothing, fire, and other technological augmentations.
• How the freedom of the body is also the freedom of the mind.
• Ethical issues of body modification as personal expression and identity and interactions with other people…
• Unfortunate discovery about our evolutionary history: Our skulls are shaped to take a punch, and our fists are shaped to punch a human skull. That’s why it’s so hard to scan the brain through the skull…
“If only we had punched each other less, maybe we could have giant robot bodies already.”
• Where do I begin and where do you end? Hacking my body is always a political act because it’s always interfering with the commons and the expectations of the system.
• The continued breakdown of consensus reality as we hack ourselves into having all kinds of different new senses that we do not share with everybody else – and how we hopefully begin to CELEBRATE this, celebrate diversity of body forms beyond just whether they depart in minor superficial details from the normal human image or some magazine-made simulacrum of it.
“Sensory augmentation and sensory substitution have the biggest opportunity to fundamentally change who we are as people and how we interact with our environment. And I also think it’s the biggest thing that’s going to blindside people, because some of this stuff is right around the corner.”
“In the past year, DARPA [said] they are getting touch to work in prosthetics. They hooked up a paraplegic woman to a jet simulator and she taught herself how to fly the jet, just by having her brain connected to it, in a day or two.”
“What we’ve learned is that it’s a lot more simple than you might have expected to just plug a thing into the right part of the brain and let the brain figure out how to communicate with it.”
• Trevor raps off a truly impressive list of precedent-setting body hacking experiments starting in 2004 and continuing through utterly crazy science in the present day…
• Will expanding our senses to see or feel the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum help keep us safe from all the wireless information and energy transfer that society requires?
• Will everyone have access to it, or will it create a further divide?
• Project Hieroglyph: Vandana Singh’s short story “Entanglement” Karl Schroeder's short story "Degrees of Freedom" and its feature of sensory substitution vests for ecological and political influence.
Prosthetic Indigenous Animistic Awareness
Living in a Postliterate Rumor Society
“You will probably have groups of people who are all about the visual senses, I’m sure, though, too - they’ll all commune together and Look At Things Very Closely.”
#dualplatformidentity // #mindclones
“A lot of us are so not ready to process the changes of twenty years ago, much less process the changes of now.”
• What Does It Mean To Be Human?
Michael’s essays from the Body Hacking Conference Blog:
Best Seat in the House: Being Every Drone
Body Alchemy: Let’s Hack The Microbiome!
US Supreme Court: You’re A Cyborg
0014 Michael Phillip (Special Episode: Westworld Problems)
With special guest, host of Third Eye Drops Podcast and fellow esoteric dork extraordinaire, Michael Phillip. We go deep into the layers underneath the layers of HBO’s awesome new show Westworld – its future angst and wonder, and what it can teach us about the value and meaning of human existence.
SPOILER ALERT! We get into details of the Season Finale, so don’t listen to this unless you’ve seen it.
The show is worth it, though, so watch it and then come back to this conversation – in which we totally ignore the precedent of Battlestar Galactica while discussing Westworld’s awesome treatment of “Am I actually a robot?” and its evolution from the original 1970s version – and speculate on the world OUTSIDE of Westworld, the missing context for this robot violence playland that to us makes very little economic sense.
Michael Phillip echoes majestically from beyond the void as we talk about:
• William Gibson’s argument that AI isn’t robots but a “coral reef” in which all internet-connected human beings are participating;
• Magic Leap and other paradigm-shattering technologies poised to arrive on the scene simultaneously and challenge our very sense of what is real;
• Branded mixed reality universes shared by fandoms as AI testbeds;
• The danger of projecting our modern values into a fictional world at least 60 years ahead of the present – one where overpopulation may reduce the value of a human life, or might be jaded with the virtual and really want a “flesh and blood” experience of virtual reality (Is Westworld the equivalent of “artisanal small batch” or “analog aficionado” for the not-so-distant future?);
• How being able to 3D print new body parts might one day inspire a carelessness with physical harm, or possibly even new arts of consequence-free self-mutilation;
• The importance of feeling something REAL, feeling like your consequences MATTER, and how comfort sometimes is the enemy of evolution;
• Is human life losing its value?
• Sentience / Sapience & Panpsychism, Complexity
• The project of creating our own machine gods and their seemingly inevitable project of creating their own gods – Dan Simmons’ amazing Hyperion Cantos (science fiction novel series) talks about this – and how we might move into a kind of rainforest of different kinds of artificial sentience…
• Moore’s Law and entropy and evolution – will we run faster people in smaller bodies? (Fraggle Rock, Fractal Rock)
• If we’re data then of course we have duplicate versions of ourselves running around out there…
• The FOMO-ularity, when the risk of printing out a body to run at one millionth of your society’s consensus digital reality is unthinkable.
• Uploading only copies, does not transfer a continuous stream of, qualia – you aren’t immortal, just your pattern (maybe)
• Martine Rothblatt’s idea of “dual platform identity” and the light and dark sides of being able to train a computer to think and act like you.
• Can we use the ancient techniques of ecstasy employed by shamanism to more adequately navigate the turbulence and overwhelm of (post-post-)modern life?
• What else do Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, and JJ Abrams have in store for us with this? We know they’re into archetypes and layers…
• MP proposes that Arnold is the heart and Ford is the mind, leading MG to bring up Set & Osiris, Christ & Lucifer…you know, classic pairs that descend through involutionary layers of being into ever branching polar incarnations. Paradox resolved dissolves as dyads in the Fall. Ford is Lucifer and Arnold is the Christ. BAM.
• What are people going to be dissatisfied with in the future?
• Next World Problems