THE 2012 ZEITGEIST MEDIA FESTIVAL: Inspiration for all time.
By Bruce Lyons
Hollywood, CA(Hollywood Today)8/14/12/—Legend suggests that the mythic giant, Goliath, was too intoxicated with his own power to recognize the skill concealed in the artistry of his far humbler nemesis, the equally legendary and iconic musician, David, who knew exactly where to aim his single, smooth stone and exactly how much tension to place on his slingshot to bring the proud Goliath crashing back to Earth.
How much power does the artist really wield? Can the artist become king, as the story of David proclaims? And what is a king? Who or what rules our own rapidly changing times? Is the whole thing just up for grabs – like a cosmic roulette wheel? Or is there a decipherable methodology that can keep power less burdened by guile and tactical brutality, so that humanity’s better intentions stand a higher chance of translating into world-wide action? Especially now as the human population continues to mushroom.
The word Zeitgeist comes from the German “zeit” which means changing tides, a period of time, an age; and “geist”, which means ‘spirit’. So “Zeitgeist” refers to the thematic essence or spirit of a time, a characterizing tone by which we can epitomize a particular period or era. “Change” – a word injected with new meaning by Bob Dylan in 1963 when he recognized the close alliance between the American civil rights movement and folk music – is implicit in the dynamics of Zeitgeist.
When the winds of change start blowing there is usually a struggle for power. People want to influence the nature of the time, and they want to be sure they benefit from its opportunities and assets. They want to control its spirit in order to enjoy the best of its privileges. The spirit of our own emergent Zeitgeist is incredibly complex – as are the changes that are accompanying it – as if making explicit what was implicit in the complex physical and mathematical theories that took root in the 20th Century – Systems Theory being a prime example. Its interconnected webs are simply fantastic, from nano to macro, from socio to techno, amplified in no small part by the metamorphosis in communications and media that has been underway for decades now and is relentlessly transforming a multinational community into one terrestrial family.
The 2012 Zeitgeist Media Festival, organized by artist/media/idea wizard Peter Joseph, was just that: fantastic. Even if this inspirational display of ‘artivism’ (art + activism) – the art Peter most admires – cannot prevent ‘Goliath’s’ next war, or abolish nuclear weapons by the end of next week, or switch out fossil fuels for a rainbow of safe and sustainable energy technologies within ten years, or save all the whales and sharks from the ruthless appetites of our fellow humans, or renew the ocean’s depleted pelagic fish population by mid-century, or eliminate world hunger by the end of the calendar year, or decentralize the world’s wealth by the end of the next US presidential term, or block the incessant flow of dangerous chemicals into our planet’s precious water reserves, or fundamentally overhaul the global banking system from the bottom up so the world economy can breathe again, or radically reform the ontological embarrassments of arbitrary religious dogmas, or stop the increased warming of the planet, at the very least this farsighted yet humble festival made us all think deeply about the state of the planet, treated as a whole organism and our place on it – beyond the political sound and fury of two-party propaganda; the growing labyrinth of gadgets; the pleasures that distract us and the paradox of a monetary system that now finds itself at a historic impasse.
Ted Z & The Wranglers
It was a Festival of full-spectrum conviction, overflowing with compelling emotions that reflect the real conundrums pressing in upon our emerging global society with accelerating force. In this sense this now-annual Festival is a natural outgrowth of a growing, terrestrial upheaval that is going to leave no part of man’s collective being untouched. Peter Joseph has simply held up a very ingenious mirror in which we can all see reflected our own interactive history. It is not an arbitrary mirror. The specifications can be verified by all. True, each of us will experience it a little differently, but this Zeitgeist is vast and all-embracing and will touch the privileged just as surely as it touches those who wake up each morning without even safe water to drink. The mesmerizing, seven hour flow of some thirty-five acts, events and short films was so well designed and so well executed that it self-focused the inside of the mind and heart, so that we the audience could experience the interconnectedness of all things on Earth. It highlighted the inescapable connections between continued environmental degradation and a debt-based, bank-centric economic system that fails to protect and serve the planet-as-a-whole, pointing out that the cyclic, ‘strategic’ manipulation of currency strangles not simply the function of some ‘abstract’ economy, but impacts the well-being of real people, millions of them at a time; the same real men, women and children who make up the heart blood of all economies and in every nation on Earth, including the debt-plagued United States.
The festival was not just an incandescent explosion of talent – expertly selected – but a beautiful invocation of expressions that combined simplicity with complexity, with multiplicity of ethnicities, genders, nationalities, art, media, music, ideas, convictions, emotional camaraderie and consistent overtures of mutual respect driven by a love of common sense. This provocative tapestry of highly imaginative short films, performance art, activism, dance, frolic, short interviews and satirical comedy was glued together below its sometimes wry surface by the ever-widening, interconnected angst that now grips the collective conscience of most humans who love the heritage we call Earth.
This had the overall effect of binding the acts together until the audience was relaxed, alert and entranced all at once, moved by the striking parallel between the energetic expression of an exemplary cultural diversity and the planet’s own, natural – but endangered – bio-diversity. The consistent parallel drawn between Nature’s Art and Man’s Art – from Mark Magidson’s “Samsara” to George Langworthy’s “Vanishing of the Bees” – was profound. It became abundantly clear, act-by-act, that Zeitgeist is tautly strung between both poles. Destroy one and we destroy the other. Humanity is an indissoluble relation expressed in the heart and substance of any historic Zeitgeist.
I think what impressed me the most was the way the Festival mastered the age-old relationship between ‘same’ and ‘different’, a theme that heralds from the Greek Golden Age. Both were embraced and expressed in equal measure: on the one hand, what we share in common – from the Earth’s natural resources down to an essence that transcends all our differences. And on the other hand it also celebrated the differences themselves, portrayed not as flaws, but rather as variations which strengthen the world through the warp and weft of cultural and biological diversity: a sort of socio-ethnic cross-pollination. The Festival was bold enough to transcend penultimate differences, allowing atheism to co-exist with religious belief, art to stand arm-in-arm with science, so that each could influence the other. In so doing it celebrated the essence that seems to relate everything to everything else, naturally shedding layers of falsity left behind by the previous Zeitgeist, much the way a seed sheds a decaying fruit in order to be reborn. The Festival did not dwell on fear, but it acknowledged it. Instead, reason, inspiration and humor seemed to work together, transforming fear into an on-going mantra of common sense: “If I am going to consider myself in the scheme of things, then I am also going to have to consider others”.
This simple adage was ingeniously reflected in the short films. Some, such as Jason Taylor’s “Life, Land and Justice in Uganda”, were made to defend the way of life of indigenous peoples from the predatory invasion of corporate sameness. Other films defended threatened whale populations and vanishing bees, or sharks condemned to death after hunters have hacked off their fins for shark-fin-soup. Quietly, with facts instead of scare tactics, we learned how agriculture is being overtaken by the technology of genetic modification, and realized these foods are turning up on supermarket shelves without our knowledge or consent. It doesn’t even take a radical to be incensed by such a betrayal of public trust. But it does take a radical to speak out about it until open disclosure has been achieved. If people don’t like protesters, then don’t give courageous people cause to protest.
Introducing a haunting new PSA for Sea Shepherd, Rutger Hauer’s warmth and grace was a perfect defence for the whales and for the organization, which works to protect them from humanity’s insatiable desirousness. Hauer was quick to express his frustration over those who speak of the environment as if we were all somehow separate from it just so they can condemn those who care about its protection, branding them “anti-development”. He all but said the word should be banned so it cannot be exploited like a bogus political football, rendered meaningless by a false controversy. Environmentalists continue to be treated like extremists, but how far must we degrade the environment before we understand that a healthy Earth is a matter of common sense and a natural state of existence?
Presenting his film “The Vanishing of the Bees”, George Langworthy’s passion for these tiny but critically important creatures was infectious. By juxtaposing the two films, we experienced the graceful union of microcosm (bees and pollen) and macrocosm (massive sea mammal), both equally endangered by the frenetic compulsions of human activity. It is clear that as the human population keeps growing, it is more urgent than ever to learn how to protect other species, or we will soon be wiping all of them from the face of the Earth. Festival participants emphasized again and again that we must share, so that our differences do not catapult us into storms of conflict when overpopulation exceeds our capacity to provide food and water for all.
The color red appeared repeatedly on the media screen behind the performers, as if we were being warned that this is not a good time to fall asleep behind the wheel. Again and again throughout the night we were reminded that what Nature had created over at least a billion years, we are overturning in mere decades, at an ever-increasing rate of intoxicated acceleration under the guise of technological savvy, religious privilege, individualistic empowerment, ‘Goliathan’ corporate domination and global free market bull-fighting. Even as many are already lamenting what is being called the ‘dumbing down’ of America, the planet itself gets warmer and warmer and the waters of the Earth get dirtier, more acidic and more toxic.
The disproportionate role of war in the developing Zeitgeist was also held up to the light. In the 20th Century alone at least 350 million people have been sacrificed to violent political strategies around the planet. And for what ends? These wars have not improved the environment. They have not improved education. They have not helped the world’s water supply. They have not protected the ocean and its life. They have not brought human population growth into harmony with basic laws of proportion. They have not increased respect for government. Only a few have really benefited from these conflicts emboldening them to continue the hunt for more opportunities to go to war and for what – profit? Power? Privilege? Control over the planet’s global and emergent Zeitgeist? Not only did this Festival make you feel emotionally awake, but it encouraged independent thought, the capacity to get your own thinking apparatus in good working order, and made it clear that basic human compassion sharpens thought, even as it defuses weapons of war. True compassion makes it very difficult to imagine pointing an automatic weapon – let alone a rocket or bomb – at a foreign population and then blasting those members of the human community into bloody fragments. Just as we have vaccines to inoculate us against virulent diseases, so this Festival seemed to have the effect of inoculating us in advance against the malignancy of war.
Were it not for specific themes, so positive and so harmonious, such as sustainability, the principle of sharing, the consistent practice of protecting the Earth’s precious resources, the passionate defence of human liberty and health, protection of the Earth’s animals and rare flora, and fundamental contemplation of the dysfunctional ambiguity of “currency” (aka “money”), one would gather the impression that Zeitgeist is a distinctly ambiguous notion and that we are in the midst of an epic battle over the tone and quality of this most unprecedented time. How do we share it? The Festival introduced many of us to a new word, “artivism” – a hybrid and emergent creative ‘social enzyme’, if you like, active at the heart of the Zeitgeist Movement that escapes the dogmatism of traditional, ‘exclusive’ cults such as some established religions, by its superabundant complexity and overwhelming self-awareness. Artivism promotes the essential understanding that man is a being of polarities that can, through courageous creative expression, experience the unifying power of love when courage harnesses itself to the task of art + social responsibility, when confronted by a wall of global challenges. The Festival avoided placing this responsibility on the shoulders of a savior, but rather placed it squarely on the shoulders of all of us. I found this repositioning of the weight of responsibility to be very refreshing and most humbling.
And the power of love was on full display. Ten minutes spent watching singer Ash Ruiz rocking the theater and you say, oh yeah, I forgot that some people are bursting with love and have an extraordinary capacity to share it. Is it real? Absolutely. Love enables and awakens. Fear paralyzes and limits. Love reminds us of the right to choose.
And though protest with a capital “P” was front and center during the seven-hour event – from rap artist Johnny Hobbes, musical comedian Katie Goodman, protest rockers Ted Z and the Wranglers, rock violin virtuoso Lili Hayden, Hierosonic, Robb Herring and many others – it was protest burning with love, and demonstrated once and for all that we are all the same and different, and that is cause for celebration, not conflict. The responsibility rests with all of us.
Lili Haydn drove the point home by declaring, ‘We can’t ask others to clean up their shit until we have first cleaned up our own!’ The whole place roared in recognition of this most tricky of truths. As soon as you point the finger at someone you have three pointing back at you. Take a look at your hand: the thumb scarcely hides this truth.
The diversity of talent alone provided no space for dogma to join the celebration, which could not be pinned to any single form or symbol. The spirit of the night was in continuous flux and this spirit drove people to get up and dance and then sit down again in a state of profound reflection. Perhaps this spirit was best epitomized by the on-going performance painting executed by the incredibly gifted Norton Wisdom, carried out to the accompaniment of various types of spontaneous and powerful music as we watched. His paintings changed constantly, as if reflecting the true nature of Zeitgeist: things change. Flow with it.
When the atmosphere had become too pleasurable, the inimitable Marianne Williamson took the stage and reminded us with street-wise erudition that pleasure alone will not win the battle; that love alone will not protect the Earth this time. Marianne was the custodian of conscience, gifted with the requisite seriousness that glued joy to the sticking place. The audience loved her. Her message was powerful; do not drown in the pleasure principle and forget the difficult work of political action. She seemed to awaken everybody as if from a deep sleep and even deeper dream. It was as if she were announcing the arrival of a great wall of fire.
She insisted that the pleasure of art, of dancing, of comedic genius, of love, is important – indispensable even. But it must be used as strength to fuel appropriate action. She reminded me of Jacques-Yves Cousteau who, decades ago, exhorted people not to stop protesting. Not to lie down and let the machinery roll right over you: otherwise we were going to forfeit our awesome heritage simply because we failed the ultimate sobriety test. The Earth is our responsibility. We are all connected.
In his on-stage interview with Artivist film festival coordinator Diaky Diaz, Fox TV show runner Tim Kring, creator of the TV shows “Heroes” and “Touch”, echoed the same theme as if the idea had very personal meaning to it: ‘everything is connected’. Things move in patterns; what is simple has complex ramifications that reach out and touch unexpected spheres of a shared reality. It is this that inspires Kring and fills his life with meaning. He knows that he and his audience are really one entity and what is small and what is large are bound to each other. I asked Tim whether this indissoluble connection between the small and large gives him hope. He did not hesitate for an instant. “Yes”, he said. “Absolutely. It gives everything meaning. It is the miracle of every day.”
I wondered how it was going to be possible for anyone to follow the stunning performance of Lili Haydn – where woman and violin became one fiery voice – but Iranian singer Sussan Deyhim proved equal to the task. What this woman accomplished with her voice was a revelation. Pointing out that she was an Iranian woman being accompanied by a Jewish brass player and a Jewish bassist, she created an atmosphere in which we could no longer believe in the current political fire that is ready to ignite the spaces that separate Iran from Israel, from the United States, and from most of the Western World. I could see directly why there was a time – ancient Egypt and the old Orphic Tradition, to name but two – when music was the master teacher simply because it restores the soul; it opens the mind like a great lens so that your eye is my eye, is the bee’s eye, is the whale’s eye, is the eye of Earth peering out into endless reaches of starry grandeur and mysterious forms of life waiting to be born.
Without artists the Earth would already be scorched a thousand times over: ashes unable to eke out any more green shoots. For seven hours at the Avalon the green shoots of hope were everywhere. The growth could not be contained. Befitting the ecstasy at the end, my camera battery ran out and I could no longer record: instead I jumped on the green wave and vanished into a world worthy of our protection and – as all the artists stated all night – our undying love, that creative courage sustains as a matter of course. Sussan Deyhim had a smile that transcended every border man has ever created. It was art and artists who united Iranian and Jew on the stage – and labored together to bring the house down. Glorious harmony as voice, bass and brass – including a ram’s horn – alternated with feverish excitement. It was the trance of the spirit of our own time, gathering itself up to survive intact, smiling, passionate, capable, able to see its way through illusion and false paths.
A celebration to be shared with the entire Earth.
|1|| The Zeitgeist Movement
This is the main website for TZM.
|2|| TZM FAQ
This is an FAQ on the global website with answers to popular questions about TZM.
|3|| Zeitgeist Media Project
The Zeitgeist Movement’s Media Project is an extension of our Communications Team, seeking to create influential media for the sake of increasing social awareness about TZM. All Videos, Music, Photos, Art that are created by TZM members is HERE!!
|4|| Blog Talk Radio Show
The weekly ZM Global radio show hosted by Peter Joseph and other members of the Zeitgeist Movement in an ongoing rotation.
|5|| ZM Global Project Teams
This is a listing of global project teams on the main TZM website covering needs from translations, linguistics, newsletter, media and technology.
|6|| TZM Blog
Official blog for the Zeitgeist Movement
ZeitNews is a science-oriented website dedicated to technology news. We operate as a branch of the Zeitgeist Movement’s Technology Team as an information hub which aims to inform as many people as possible about the current advancements and capabilities of science and technology.
|8|| Zeitgeist Movie Website
The Zeitgeist film series official gateway page
|9|| Zeitgeist Movement Official YouTube Page
The official YouTube channel for the global Zeitgeist Movement
|10|| Zeitgeist I: Sourcebook
If anyone would like more information about the religion part of the first film, including all the controversy and debate surrounding it, as well as all the evidence, this eBook is published for free as an information resource on these topics.
|11|| The Venus Project Website
This is the life-long work of Social Engineer and Industrial Designer, Jacque Fresco. This data-set contains information regarding the technical approach to a sustainable world.