A few months ago I was asked, in one of those email groups where people ask each other things like this: “what does it mean to be a burner? What are the core beliefs that unite us?”
I didn’t respond, first and foremost because honest-to-God do I have that kind of time? No I do not, and it is hugely irresponsible of people to ask me open ended questions. It’s like offering a hypochondriac free medical advice. His whole weekend’s shot.
But I also didn’t respond because I’d been wrestling with that question for some time … and had no good answer.
I know that the most common response is “The 10 Principles,” but … I don’t see it. I bet 90% of the Burners reading this can’t name all 10 without looking them up. Of that 10% who can, I bet 90% of them didn’t know all the 10 principles … or anything about the 10 principles … back when that magical moment happened and they first decided: “Oh, I like this. I want to be a part of this.”
It’s also commonly understood … though not often talked about … that most of us interpret the 10 Principles differently. Some of us (I’ll raise my hand) believe that “Radical Inclusion” means “everybody can participate in Burning Man,” while others take it to mean “everybody should feel included and accepted by people at Burning Man”: we’re worlds apart. Exactly what “Gifting” means is not a matter of settled tort. How “communal” does “Communal Effort” have to be? You might as well ask how many Burners can dance on the head of a pin, except that this was settled by 2005’s massive art project “Dance on the Head of a Pin!” It’s 82, and they light the pin on fire. Man that really should have been funded. (more…)