Voices of Burning Man features a wide diversity of perspectives on Burning Man culture, including official announcements,
cultural commentary and participant views.
You're encouraged to add your voice to the spirited and civil dialog around the ideas and issues that affect the Burning Man community.
A hard working crew of writers and geeks at BMHQ have teamed up to build a brand spankin’ new website for Burning Man. This has been a long time coming and we’re soooo looking forward to sharing it with you.
As you know, earlier this year Burning Man became a non-profit. As part of our evolution from an organization dedicated solely to producing the annual event in the desert to a global network fostering Burning Man culture near and far, we are transitioning from burningman.com to burningman.org.
In order to make this grand leap, certain portions of the current site are going to be unavailable for short periods of time later this week. We know there are very important conversations happening in the community right now and we in no way want to stifle them.
We believe the blog will only need to be ‘pulled’ for several hours on Friday. If it were possible, we’d love to make the transition from burningman.com to burningman.org without disrupting current communication channels, but we’re working with a lot of moving bits and pieces and this is a necessary part of the process.
We also know there are lots of folks wondering about the theme for 2015 and the new process for applying for art grants. All of these details will be included on the new site, so we’re working fast and furiously to get it up and ready as soon as possible.
You can expect some parts of the current site to be unavailable at certain times later this week, and we look forward to sharing the new one with you very soon!
Perhaps you’ve still never heard of the Cacophony Society, Burning Man’s parent group.
Pardon the cliche, but for history’s sake, we’re going to have to talk about fight club.
Fight Club is a book written in 1996 and then turned into a movie released 15 years ago this fall (we won’t provide any spoilers if we can help it). Author Chuck Pahlaniuk confirmed at several book-release events last year the “Project Mayhem” group in Fight Club’s story is indeed the Cacophony Society in real life … a wackier bunch of people, without the men-only Iron John subplot or all the property destruction and violence. (Well, serious violence, anyway.)
“But Larry Harvey invented Burning Man,” you may be saying to yourself. No, he and his homeys Jerry and Dan brought the statue to a “Zone Trip” the Cacophony Society had already planned to take to the Black Rock Desert.
The rest of the event didn’t spring, Godlike, from one man’s mind, and materialize like so much ganja in Shiva’s dreadlocks. Cacophony built Black Rock City. It was a group whim — a hive-mind good time which snowballed and splintered, glittering, like breaking mirrorglass.
Even if you don’t know it, Burning Man is and will always be the Cacophony Society’s yearly extended-family check-in and show-and-tell. It’s a fight club convention where old-timers don’t make a big deal about showing up to tweak and observe the city they created. This product of new collectivist activity reads like a neotribal Kumbh Mela which embraces chaos as spirituality. The event requires, and has always required, a dark army of dirtbags to make it all go flash bang boom.
Burning Man’s blank slate started as an anarcho-cyberpunk paradise away from the squares, on the moon. A living, breathing Internet, this equalizing Paper Street Soap Company in the dust churned art, analog, digital, fire, lust, danger, meetings, and magic into a whirlwind of construction and yelling. (more…)
Before I answer the headline, let me clear three things up:
1) I don’t speak for Burning Man, I’m not part of the Org, I’m not on their payroll, and they had no idea that this post was coming. They don’t edit my stuff and there’s no approval process, so: they found out I’d written this when you did. Nothing I say represents them, or is a statement of what they believe on any issue.
2) Do I care about the problems caused by commodification camps? Absolutely. In fact, one of my first posts for this blog called for the creation of “Art Vikings” to stop plug-n-play camps. I wrote:
Camp Art Vikings will send our Viking scouts across the playa to find package tour camps and paid labor. Then we will send our war parties, on Art Longboats, across the dust to Art Raid them. We will take their meat and their women and their best alcohol, deliver them to a random camp, and celebrate together.
So I’m probably more radical on this issue than you are.
3) Do I think the ORG should be more transparent. Yes. Stop. End quote.
So why am I making fun of terribly sincere burners with a legitimate grip whose issue I basically agree with?
Because people are demanding that the Org come up with an immediate solution to what is at heart an intractable societal problem: the gentrification caused by income inequality. (more…)
[Note: I have responded to the comments below with a new post, which can be found here. Also a reminder that I do not, and never have, spoken for the Org.]
I am as shocked as anyone that rich people came to Burning Man and behaved like rich people.
There’s only one explanation: it’s a conspiracy, and it goes all the way to the top! Yes! The only way people with money could have possibly used that money to try and game the system is if Burning Man was directly involved! In on it! We all know it, but you don’t the half of it!
Here are the 5 biggest, most shocking, examples, of plug-and-play malfeasance – and the Burning Man organization’s complicity in it!
A group of prominent venture capitalists paid Larry Harvey $6 million to write them an extra-fun 11th principle that no-one else has.
What is it? I don’t know! You don’t know! But it’s got to be amazing, and we’re not living by it! Only they are!
The compound prepared for the Walton family, which owns Wall-Mart, actually paid its greeters
They brought out a bunch of senior citizens to tell everyone on the playa to have-a-nice-day! They even hugged people! And then were paid minimum wage!
Haliburton’s massive camp art project was really a derrick testing for oil under Black Rock City.
Sure it shot out flames, had a DJ, and Friday night’s Gushing Oil Party was awesome, but that’s not the point!
Billionaire Amazon.com owner Jeff Bezos’ theme camp never even came out in physical form, and instead was available only on Kindle.
Anyone who went is now under the terms and conditions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act! On the plus side, there was no MOOP.
Warren Buffett slipped Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell $10 million to move Burning Man to Omaha, and fix it so nobody noticed.
That giant sculpture with the funky lights that everybody loved? That was really the Nebraska statehouse. We were so used!
My experiences for the last 17 years at Burning Man have been so amazing and transformative that I have a hard time seeing any shifts in the event as a real threat. “Bring on P.Diddy and the Turnkey Camps!” I said. I still believe that. But I also am able to understand the current fear more clearly now than I once did.
Like everyone, I am eagerly awaiting the official response to the recent controversies. I do *not* think Burning Man is doomed. Quite the contrary. I have faith we will figure this out and thrive.
Once we get a handle on the current challenges and correct the course, the magic will shine as bright as ever.
The fable below is fictional. Take it with a grain of dust.
Once upon a time there was food enthusiast who hosted a fantastic baked goods potluck.
He invited 10 adventurous cooks he knew and they started gathering each month to share delights.
Their culinary skills were varied…but they all sure loved food.
The spreads were AMAZING!
People went WAY over-the-top.
Exotic ingredients, rare fruits, fine wines.
For some participants it became almost a game: who could produce the most fantastic dessert? (more…)
We are aware that many of you are waiting for a response to a number of questions concerning theme camps, turnkey camps, placement of camps, access to tickets, decommodification and a potential erosion of our culture.
These are some of the questions members of our community have raised:
Is the Burning Man organization profiting off turnkey camps?
How did turnkey camps get all their tickets?
Do turnkey camps get preferential treatment?
Were people buying blocks of tickets through the Burning Man Project donation ticket program in the days before the event? If so, why?
Are turnkey camps undermining the practice of Decommodification and Self-Reliance?
What is going to happen to the turnkey camps going forward? Is there accountability for poor behavior?
The importance of these questions requires collaboration and input from a wide variety of people including staff, theme camp leaders, artists, Regional Network leaders, turnkey camp producers, and participants. We are still gathering information and identifying the most effective solutions.
We assure you we are listening and discussing real reforms.
This continues to be a tough year of post-Playa bumps and bruises. (And I don’t mean the black and blue Xmas toenails.) Amidst all the controversy I was asked, “Is Burning Man dead?”
NOTE: I am a 17 year Burning Man Participant and Theme Camp organizer. I do not speak as an official rep of the Burning Man Organization.
P.S. Yes, that is my 71 year old mom on the right of the screen, enjoying her first-ever Playa visit. Her experience was amazing and has made our relationship even closer. But that, too, is a topic for another post. Long Live Burning Man.