Posts during November, 2013


November 20th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Sacred Spaces

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

by Gypsy Crone

 

I was trying to decide what to do and go to each day . Not only did that take up much of my time in planning mode it also did not necessarily work out. One day I decided to plan but just be open to whatever came up. I planned to attend a talk by a Buddhist Monk at Sacred Spaces but arrived early and did not know which of three domes he might be starting his talk in. There was no indication of the correct dome so I just randomly picked one.

A Jewish man was concluding his talk and I took a place on the floor next to a serious looking young man. We exchanged brief hellos but nothing else. The next speaker came in and announced her talk was on ESP. I decided to stay because I was comfortable and had no desire to move but I also had no interest in her subject matter. I had long ago explored this subject in great detail and felt very complete with it. I decided to just stay to enjoy the moment. It became obvious to me that the young serious man had come just for this talk and that the subject was important to him for whatever reason. I became more interested in his involvement than with the speaker.

At the end of the talk she opened up a question and answer time but seemed more interested in leaving and moving on. He seemed to have waited just for this moment, to ask his important questions. The two of them were not a vibrational match and I sensed his great disappointment. She moved on quickly but he lingered gathering his belongings. I felt drawn to offer him one of the gifts I had made and to offer to listen again to his question at a deeper level. First, I offered my gift, which was an arm cuff I had spent months making with symbols of the divine to match the Cargo Cult theme. Then I asked him to repeat his question. I listened intently. I could feel his deep confusion about his life situation and I offered what came to me to say. Read more »

November 19th, 2013  |  Filed under Events/Happenings

The IlluminArts Walk – December 5

EL-wire people, 2010 (photo by Neil Girling)

EL-wire people, 2010 (photo by Neil Girling)

Hey! If you’re in the Bay Area, come participate in The IlluminArts Walk! (Or if you’re not, perhaps organize your own illuminated walk, and send us your pictures to attach to this blog post!) The IlluminArts walk is in conjunction with San Francisco Travel’s “Illuminate SF”.

When: December 5, 2013, 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Where: North Beach to Embarcadero/Pier 15 Exploratorium via Filbert Steps
What: The IlluminArts Walk: an evening of participatory pageantry!
Why: Let’s shine a light on art and participation in our community.
Who: Black Rock Arts Foundation and Illuminate The Arts in harmony with the Exploratorium and San Francisco Travel

As early winter dusk descends upon our City on December 5th, Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) and Illuminate the Arts invites residents and visitors of San Francisco to don lighted gear and illuminated wearable art, and engage in an evening of participatory pageantry. The IlluminArts Walk is a strolling light installation at the human scale – where participants become art by illuminating their most fun evening finery and walk from North Beach to the Embarcadero. The route explores three works of illuminated art, traverses two neighborhoods, and brings new energy to our sidewalks and Telegraph Hill, all while enjoying gorgeous vistas of The Bay Lights. This event has been created in support of San Francisco Travel’s inaugural “Illuminate SF”, a new seasonal program which offers the entire city of San Francisco as a gallery of light-filled art, illuminating the dark winter evenings. Read more »

November 16th, 2013  |  Filed under Environment

Burning Man passes its site inspection. 2014 is a GO!

HURRAH! It’s a red-letter day for all you MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire: Our Leave No Trace efforts have made it possible for Burning Man to happen again in 2014.

Your inspection team. Photo by Bubblegique.

Your inspection team. Photo by Bubblegique.

On Thursday, November 14, the DPW Playa Restoration All-Stars regrouped on the Black Rock Desert, meeting with the Bureau of Land Management to conduct the annual inspection of our site. If you didn’t know, everything we do hinges on this one moment: If we don’t pass our inspection, the BLM may not allow us to continue holding Burning Man on this public land.

Read more »

November 12th, 2013  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Commerce & Community: Distilling philosophy from a cup of coffee …

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Center Camp Café, 2005 (photo by Brad Templeton)

Center Camp Café, 2005 (photo by Brad Templeton)

Sometimes the exception to a rule can deepen understanding of a principle. For example, some critics of Burning Man insist that by allowing coffee sales in our city’s Center Camp Café we violate a tenet of our non-commercial ideology. They say that this is evidence of deep naiveté or demonstrates hypocrisy. My reply is that we’ve never espoused a non-commercial ideology. To be against commerce is to oppose the very existence of civilized life. Even hunter-gatherers engage in trade in order to survive.

When most people say that any thing or act is too commercial or has been commercialized, very few of them mean to say that the practice of commerce is necessarily bad. Instead, they are expressing the feeling that something essential — something that should never be bought and sold — has been commodified. This is why we have always been careful to use the words commodify and decommodify.

Our annual event in the desert is meant to provide an example of what can happen in a community when social interactions cease to be mediated by a marketplace. Until quite recently, all societies have provided many different kinds of rites and rituals – set apart from daily life – that rehearse and reaffirm certain core spiritual experiences that are held to possess an unconditional value.

For example, in the culture created by Burning Man, the value of a gift, when rightly given and received, is unconditional. Nothing of equivalent value can be expected in return; this interaction shouldn’t be commodified. Likewise, love – the love of a parent for a child – should never be commodified. This, too, is an unconditional value, hedged round by a kind of sanctity, and can never be measured in dollars and cents. Read more »

November 12th, 2013  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

How The West Was Won: Anarchy Vs. Civic Responsibility

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

Legends of America, by James Cole, 2008 (photo by Stewart Harvey)

“Legends of America” by James Cole, 2008 (photo by Stewart Harvey)

During our early history in the desert, in the mid-90s, there was a lot of infighting about what the event was for—that struggle culminated in 1996. It concerned what our city was for, and who the entire event belonged to. We started out on the beach in 1986 as a small group of people that I came to call the Latte Carpenters. These were carpenters with a liberal arts education. I was friends with a builder named Dan Richman, who was an artist, though he didn’t pursue it, a talented painter who played flamenco. He convened a little salon of sorts at his house. He’d play the guitar; we’d drink and joke and talk about philosophy and art. It was a little bohemian scene, and that’s how I met Jerry James, with whom I built and burned the early versions of the Man.

Around 1989, members of the Cacophony Society turned up at our beach burns. Cacophony was somewhat amorphous; a “randomly gathered” network of eccentrics united by a publicly distributed newsletter that always stated, “You may already be a member.” Anyone could do events; these were often pranks, or might appropriate a feature of the urban landscape as a venue for guerrilla theater. For some, this was inspired by Dada, and for others it eventually came to be defined by the writings of Hakim Bey, chiefly a book entitled TAZ [Temporary Autonomous Zone]. In the early 90’s, this was widely adopted as an intellectual framework throughout the San Francisco art underground. It seemed to partially explain what was occurring, and that is why this particular book is so frequently referenced in regard to Burning Man. Read more »

November 12th, 2013  |  Filed under News

Burning Man Settles Lawsuit with Pershing County, Nev.

Gavel

A gavel.

[Editor's Note: The AP has published a retraction and correction of its original story, which incorrectly stated the facts of the case.]

San Francisco, CA. – Black Rock City, LLC and Pershing County have reached a settlement of all issues of the lawsuit brought by BRC last year. Associated court documents were filed in U.S. District Court in Reno, Nevada last week. The parties are now waiting for the federal district to approve the settlement in a hearing scheduled for this coming Monday, November 18th.

“This is a very favorable outcome for all parties,” said Raymond Allen, Government Affairs Representative for BRC. “The terms address all of BRC’s and the County’s concerns.”

The settlement agreement spans ten years and is designed to cover all of Pershing County’s costs and impacts related to the Burning Man event, while also preserving participant freedoms protected by the First Amendment. The agreement is based on integration of operations of the Pershing County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Land Management’s (“BLM”) law enforcement command. Read more »

November 12th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Culture (Art & Music)

Peikwen Cheng Exhibits Burning Man Photos at Paris Photo 2013

Five-Star Ride (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

Five-Star Ride (photo by Peikwen Cheng)

Photographer Peikwen Cheng writes:

“I want to share some good news. Burning Man and its community has been a huge source of inspiration. And now I’ll be exhibiting photos taken on the playa from my series Lost and Found at Europe’s most important photography fair Paris Photo. If you think the Burning Man community in Europe would appreciate visiting, please feel free to share the details for the exhibition:

Paris Photo 2013
Vernissage: November 13
Exhibition: November 14-17
Location: Grand Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, Paris – Galerie Magda Danysz, Booth B03″

 

November 12th, 2013  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Introduction: The Philosophical Center

[This post is part of the 10 Principles blog series, an ongoing exploration of the history, philosophy and dynamics of Burning Man's 10 Principles in Black Rock City and around the world. We welcome your voice in the conversation.]

The mission of the Burning Man Project is to seek out Burning Man culture, as it is described by the Ten Principles, and to link these efforts and communities to one another as part of a worldwide network. Nestled at the heart of this non-profit, another institution, the Philosophical Center, will serve as both the conscience and collective memory of Burning Man. Its mission is to foment discourse that examines the Ten Principles. The motto that will guide this is a quote by William James, “Belief is thought at rest.” This ongoing 10 Principles blog series is the Philosophical Center’s public debut.

We Found Ourselves!

Porta-potty graffiti, 2013 (photo by Alexander Shalashniy)

In an essay included in this blog series, Caveat Magister writes, ”We came to Burning Man because we saw something was happening—we felt its potential all the way down to our bones, sometimes from the other side of the earth—and we were called to be a part of it. Later, maybe, we learned it has 10 Principles, and we started looking to them as a way to aspire to what we were already inspired by.” He is saying that the Principles do not precede immediate experience: they issue out of it. The Principles, in other words, are not an ideology that stands outside of one’s experience. They are a portrait of an ethos; they describe a way of life.

Perhaps the best way to commence thinking about the Ten Principles is to consider their actual language, to engage in a close reading. To begin with, they utterly lack the imperative mood; they are not commands or requests—they do not give permission or withhold it. For example, Leaving No Trace is not a commandment. Although it speaks of what we value, it does not demand allegiance. Agency resides within the actor, not externalized as rules. This assumes these values are internalized, that they arise within each individual as a result of participating in a community, and that we act, in the deepest sense, as a result of who we are. Read more »