Future Fossils with Michael Garfield
👁️🔄📀 214 - J.F. Martel, Phil Ford, & Megan Phipps on Weird Cybernetics: Waking Up From The Ecstasy

👁️🔄📀 214 - J.F. Martel, Phil Ford, & Megan Phipps on Weird Cybernetics: Waking Up From The Ecstasy

A long-overdue next chapter in the braided history of Weird Studies x Future Fossils!

✨ Subscribe and review at Apple Podcasts and/or Spotify. Unborn archaeologists thank you!

Merry Christmas, Future Fossils!  This is Michael Garfield welcoming you to episode 214 of the podcast that explores our place in time — and as demonstrated in the Dr. Who and Aliens franchises, Blade Runner 2049, and Batman Returns, Christmas is a fruitful backdrop for the pondering of big ideas — a moment in which we can see with greater clarity than usual the unity of everyday mundane humanity and transcendental cosmic matters.  In other words, perfect timing for this episode’s conversation about cybernetics and the philosophy of the weird with Megan Phipps, Phil Ford, and J.F. Martel.  

Lecturer in Media and Information at University of Amsterdam and Phd Research Fellow at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt who writes trippy and insightful papers on topics like Brian Eno, circuit bending, and surveillance capitalism.  Phil is an author and musician who teaches musicology at IU Bloomington and infuses his curricula with the profundity he has polished through years of committed Zen practice.  J.F. is an author, film-maker, and para-academic online course instructor in media studies and magick, who runs Dungeon and Dragons campaigns on the side.  Together, J.F. and Phil host the delicious Weird Studies Podcast, every episode of which triggers in me the Holy Grail of podcast affective listener programming: namely, that I wish I were in the room and part of these discussions.  Luckily, I’ve had that opportunity before, to talk about my writing on the material agency of glass in our scientific era…and both of them have been on Future Fossils also, both alone and together.  But getting all four of us on one call is a rare and precious thing — and now’s the perfect moment to rap about the emergence of the cybernetic era as a kind of numinous event in human history, a divine invasion that transfigures us and forces us to think about which boundaries *should* melt away and which should stay where evolution learned to put them.  

You see, we live in an age of multilayer networks — and when our view of humankind transmogrifies from the static image of divine forms to a fluid wash of interweaving processes, the self becomes a metamorphic fugitive and  a work of art. When everything’s connected, politics is an aesthetic act and art acquires moral force. Advanced   technologies have granted us godlike powers to reshape the world in our image…but “life finds a way” and there are always gremlins, aliens, dinosaurs, and elves lurking latent in the tidy systems diagrams. The beauty of progress necessarily conceals the ugly externalities, the entropy exported in our efforts to arrange wild nature into an image of our lost garden. 

So what does cybernetics as a way of seeing change for us in terms of how we live?  What does it mean to be human in an age of very lively, seemingly intelligent machines?    

But before we dive headlong into this recording of a conversation so good our first attempt was erased by trickster intervention, let me express my thanks to everyone who has helped me and Future Fossils through a year of (what I hope remains) extraordinary challenge. This show is weird and obstinate in its refusal of clear definition. I follow my muses where they lead me and leave these discussions and soliloquys as fossils of a process of discovery and creativity…and staying true to this defies the logic of the market, which would have us classify ourselves as tidily as possible so we are pre-chewed for the algorithms that determine whether what we make is ever noticed by those over the horizon of organic peer-to-peer suggestion networks. If you’re listening, chances are a friend told you about this show — I’d be surprised if you just found it randomly, and definitely not because a sponsor amplified it. I started Future Fossils under pressure from my friends but keep it going as a kind of Benedictine prayer.  However it might seem, it’s lonely work — but every now and then I find I’ve reached somebody where it counts, that I’ve inspired a major life change or just helped you orient yourselves amidst the wider movements of a transformation that once seemed chaotic and now seems symphonic.  That’s why I keep this going.  Every single time I check my email to discover someone else finds value in my work and shows appreciation with a Patreon, Substack, or Bandcamp sub, it makes my day and takes a little of the sting away from my ongoing balancing of kids and unemployment.  I’d like to make this work sustainable in 2024 but I’m still very far from that…so thank you, each and all, for everything you do to help me run this ultramarathon.

New patrons I would like to thank include Ian Benouis, EGH2128, Lynn Amores, Robert Cummings, Katie Teague, Slow Dancing Fool, and Brian Mapes.

Thank you!  And thank you to EVERYONE who chips in every month, or who has left or will ever leave a good review on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, or who shares this show with your friends…and a special thanks to Suzy Lanza of Ahara Rasa Ghee for shipping me a sweet little care package with her delicious ghee as a gesture of appreciation for this show — she’s not a sponsor but I do endorse her work and recommend you check out iloveghee.com. Lastly, thanks to Noonautics.org for inviting me to join their advisory board and for their continued support of efforts to explore and map and understand the realms beyond.

And now onto the main course!  Let’s start somewhere else: in the “trash stratum” of a dirty manger, in the mess of our kinship and identity with the nonhuman (animal, vegetable, AND mineral). In the revelation of our contiguous, nested, and modular interbeing — we begin our conversation…guided here by visitations from a higher realm in which communication and control are aspects of some secret third thing that transcends duality. The information age is one in which we cannot separate the bomb from the computer from the drug and in this way, in spite of all the grimy cyberpunk and body horror of our media environment, the trillion-eyed panopticon the Web became appears to us like the archangel Gabriel: “Be not afraid,” dear listeners. Enjoy this awesome conversation, and enjoy your holidays!

 Support My Work:

• Subscribe on SubstackPatreon, and/or Bandcamp for MANY extras, including a insiders-only discussion group and extra channels on our public Discord Server.
• Browse my art and buy original paintings and prints (or commission new work).
• Show music:  “Sonnet A” from my Double-Edged Sword EP (BandcampSpotify).
• Buy the books we mention on the show at the Future Fossils Bookshop.org page.
• Make one-off donations directly at @futurefossils on Venmo$manfredmacx on CashApp, or @michaelgarfield on PayPal.
• Save up to $70 on an Apollo Neuro wearable from 12/1-12/31 with my affiliate code.

Related Weird Studies Episodes:

26 - Living in a Glass Age, with Michael Garfield

42 - On Pauline Oliveros, with Kerry O’Brien

131 - Knocking on the Abyssal Door: Live at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute

151 - The Real and the Possible: Live at the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute, with Jacob G. Foster

153 - Celestial Machine: On the Temperance Card in the Tarot

157 - Long Live the New Flesh: On David Cronenberg's 'Videodrome'

160 - The Way of All Flesh: On John Carpenter's 'The Thing'

Related Future Fossils Episodes:

18 - JF Martel (Art, Magic, & The Terrifying Zone of Uncanny Awesomeness)

65 - John David Ebert (Hypermodernity & Blade Runner 2049)

71 - JF Martel (On Sequels & Simulacra, Blade Runner 2049 & Stranger Things 2)

117 - Eric Wargo on Time Loops: Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious

126 - Phil Ford & JF Martel on Weird Studies & Plural Realities

157 - Phil Ford on Taboo: Time and Belief in Exotica

171 - Eric Wargo on Precognitive Dreamwork and The Philosophy of Time Travel

212 - Manfred Laubichler & Geoffrey West on Life In The Anthropocene & Living Inside The Technosphere

Additional Mentioned & Related Media:

Megan Phipps — “Soundscapes of Possible Minds: Meditation Cybernetics in Brian Eno’s Ambient Music”

Zygmunt Bauman - Liquid Modernity

Mitch Waldrop - The Dream Machine

Michel Houellebecq – The Elementary Particles

William Shakespeare – Othello

Mark Fisher – Flatline Constructs: Gothic Materialism and Cybernetic Theory-Fiction

Ezra Klein interviews Erik Davis — “The Culture Creating A.I. Is Weird. Here’s Why That Matters.”

Richard Brautigan – “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace”

Megan Phipps interviews Erik Davis — “New Cybernetic Psychedelia”

Brian Eno – “The Studio As A Compositional Tool”

Michael Garfield’s “Reader’s Rig” pedalboard teardown feature at Guitar Moderne

Michael Garfield – “Advertisement is Psychedelic Art is Advertisement”

Phil Ford waxes poetic about Wagner’s Ring Cycle on the Brute Norse Podcast

Dror Poleg on the future of a highly automated economy on Infinite Loops Podcast

Erik Wargo – “The Passion of The Space Jockey”

Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute (DISI)

Man of Steel (2013)


Jeffrey Kripal

Michael Levin


Sam Arbesman on Coding As Magic and The Magic of Code

Thank you for listening and for your support!

Future Fossils with Michael Garfield
Join paleontologist-futurist Michael Garfield and an avalanche of amazing guests for deep but irreverent discussions at the edge of the known and knowable: on prehistory and post-humanity and deep time, non-human agency and non-duality, science fiction and self-fulfilling prophecies, complex systems and sustainability (or lack thereof), psychedelics as a form of training for proliferating futures, art and creativity as service and as inquiry. New episodes on a roughly biweekly basis. Get bonus material and support the show at patreon.com/michaelgarfield or michaelgarfield.substack.com