Header Art: “Every Year is New year” By Michael Garfield

Music for your reading pleasure:

improvised live at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, February 2011

“Temple Burn,” by Michael Garfield
painted live by Michael Garfield at Hodi’s Half Note
during Random Rab, D.V.S*, & Untied Laces

(read its story here)

We are at the end of one science and the beginning of a new science – one that dismisses the ancient but futile quest for total knowledge (and, not so implicitly, total control) and the narrow-minded insistence on the linear progression of cause and effect, for a celebration of the newer and more confounding questions introduced by each answer, for a playful exploration of co-causation’s latticework, which unifies all perspectives in a mutual creation and returns us each to center even as the dream of measuring our world’s boundaries recedes into nonsense.

And it is in nonsense that we rediscover ourselves – in the ceaseless irruption of the incompletely understood into our tidy matrices, a reminder (a co-conspiratorial one, if we are lucky) that the universe is bigger than our laws (even if we call them “universal”) and as its fruit, our lives are themselves a thin tiling of the familiar like verdigris/filigree/gold leaf over the faceless mind of tireless, revelatory, orgasmic creation.

[MSY > ATL, 2011 01 07]

It’s easy, obvious, intuitive, this “linear time.” An arrow flying from God’s hand to the apocalyptic bull’s eye…or from the equally inexplicable (and evidence-contrary) Big Bang to some evaporated darkness beyond the time of life and mind. But I want to separate what so many of my peers and colleagues/companions consider “Science” – the monolithic institution with its willful ignorances and high priests – from the fertile, variegated, dynamic ecology of ideas and interactions that actually constitutes the living body of our kind’s (I loathe to say “our species’,” for reasons upon which I’ll soon elaborate) dance with the known and unknown.

To make the most elementary distinction, “Science” the noun – taken to mean the global nation of rigorous collaborative truth-seekers – consists of AT LEAST two parts: the convention-focused core and the anomaly-focused fringe. Join me in my biologist’s metaphorical framing for a moment, here, and look at this abstract cultural space laid out in three dimensions, like a living cell: at its center, the genetic libraries of all inherited knowledge and the nucleic wardens of this trove (scientists double-checking new data against established knowledge perform the same function as RNAi molecules attacking the foreign genetic information and gene products that make it through the cell’s first defenses); at its boundary, the equally-vigilant gatekeepers of the cell’s permeable membrane, selectively admitting nutritive particles and safely consistent genetic instructions – the REAL brain of the cell, which defines it in contrast to the alien world beyond and mediates the two worlds (including the transduction of messages to and from other cells, or in this macro case, other methods of knowledge creation – either human or nonhuman).

“Juggernaut Paisley,” by Michael Garfield
painted live at The Parish, Art Outside Festival 2010, & Bear Creek Festival 2010
during Big Gigantic, Alex B, Govinda, Anahata Sound, Ricochet, Toubab Krewe, Rebirth Brass Band, & Umphrey’s McGee
(read its story here)

The ongoing debate between two sides who paint one another as zealous, blinded, “truth-desperate” knowledge clergy on one hand and footloose, undereducated, wishful-thinking lunatic hucksters on the other is as ridiculous and self-defeating as a conflict between the nucleus and cell membrane over whose task is the one true indispensable function of a cell.

The same can be said of religions: to stroke sweepingly with terms like “Christian,” “Buddhist,” or “Pagan” does as little or less to characterize the immense, harmonic diversity that allows any living organization to persist with both structural stability and creative freshness. I love categories as much as anyone, but the consistent patterning of these various human social automata reveals more in common between them – and more diversity within them – than any concrete-minded label-lover would care to admit.

And as the story goes, there are two types of people in the world: those who divide everything into two categories…

[ATL > DEN, 2011 01 017]

Much of what we call science these days is actually engineering. We must remember that Science is foremost (or, at least on its forefront) a study of the miraculous. When we first encounter a phenomenon, there on the periphery, we shouldn’t expect to understand it; if we DO, we’re probably wrong. (Of course, Science is also neither about being RIGHT.) And denying the existence of something just because we don’t have a mechanism is a breach in the integrity of the scientific enterprise. A truly hungry mind isn’t satisfied by paving over deep questions with easy answers.

[Boulder, 2011 01 27]

Support Michael in the completion of this raving experiment that claims to be a book:

Paleontologist turned "performance philosopher," Michael Garfield's ecodelic explorations map the evolutionary landscape and our place in it. Empowering others through a transmedia life-as-art project combining adventurous acoustic-electronic music, live painting, and techgnostic evangelism for planetary civilization, Michael lives as a reminder that everything is equally art, science, and spiritual practice. Follow his work & play at MichaelGarfield.net