Posts by Caveat Magister

April 1st, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music), News

BURNING MAN FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2014 MUSIC LINEUP

For Immediate Release 

Burning Man logoSan Francisco, California – April 1, 2014 (Burning Man) – The Burning Man Project today announced the music lineup for the 2014 Burning Man festival.

“We’re very excited about this year’s music lineup.” said Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Burning Man’s musical talent coordinator.  “2014 is one of the most ambitious lineups in our history, and puts Burning Man squarely in the ranks of other popular Summer music festivals such as Coachella, Bonaroo, Glastonbury and the US Festival.”

The Burning Man festival will showcase five concert venues of varying sizes spread throughout the event.  Two venues will be reserved for smaller performances, two for medium sized performances, and one main venue will be placed just outside the man at the six o’clock road.  “We expect the Denial and Anger stages to be more intimate, and have located those within the city close to the three o’clock and nine o’clock plazas.  The Bargaining and Depression stages will be located on the open playa near the two o’clock road and the ten o’clock road.”

Kübler-Ross notes that the main venue, the Acceptance stage, is large enough to support a full production truss, with professional lighting and sound.  “The audience grandstands will face the Man,” said Kübler-Ross. “We plan to disassemble the Acceptance stage itself after the Friday night performance to make room for the crowds to gather for the main burn.”  Kübler-Ross also noted that the grandstands themselves would stay in place and serve as VIP seating for the burning of the man.

“Our five stages have something for everyone,” said Kübler-Ross.  “We expect that, as people attend the festival for the week they’ll gradually move through all the stages before finally attending the last performance on the Acceptance stage Friday night.  It is a very natural progression.  We understand that some people may prefer to stay at a particular stage longer, but expect everyone to experience all five stages before the end.” Read more »

March 19th, 2014  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Why The 10 Principles Will Never Help You Win Your Argument About Burning Man With The Shirt Cocking DJ You Hate So Much

[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.]

Worst.  DJ.  Ever.  I hate him so much!

Worst. DJ. Ever. I hate him so much!

Someone recently told me that he knew his camp had become an important part of Burning Man culture after someone accused them of ruining it.

I laughed for a solid 10 minutes.  It’s that funny because it’s that true.  For every person who is active in Burning Man culture, there’s a Burner convinced that person is selling it out.

Is this a “teachable moment” – or are we just assholes?

Anthropologists and historians remind us that “culture” is not a monolithic thing – it always contains cross-currents and subcultures and family feuds.  There is no single “American Culture,” or “Christianity” or “Hollywood” – there are only currents, united to a greater or lesser degree by a common history, sensibility, or project.

There’s no reason Burning Man should be different, and even a casual glance at the playa revels that under the blinking lights we are a community diverse enough to be divided.  Not so much by race or creed, but by whether we like dub-step, whether we know our enneagram score, and whether we want to prank the world or save it. Read more »

February 25th, 2014  |  Filed under Playa Tips

Growing Up Burning

The Catch - Norman RockwellThe last time a debate about children at Burning Man flared up, I asked one of the people I knew who had grown up as a “burner kid” what she thought about the question.  Electra Carr went to her first Burning Man when she was 11.  Now 21, she sent an eloquent response to my question … which got lost between inboxes for a year-and-a-half because I really am that bad at getting back to people sometimes.  

So this is a horribly late addition to the debate, but is still worth reading.  

Other kids of burners want to weigh in?  Leave a comment at the bottom, or if you had a growing up experience at Burning Man and want to write a guest essay about it, send me a message.  (Caveat at BurningMan dot com).  I’ll try to get back to you a little sooner.  I swear.

From here on, the words you read are Electra’s.

- Caveat

 

There has been endless discussion about the subject of children attending Burning Man. I have heard the many opinions scattered across the board, from people who do take their kids and think its vital part of their childhood and parents who can’t imagine bringing their children into the desert. People who think it should be each person’s choice, others who rally for a committee to decide. There are those who are uncomfortable with the thought of a kid wandering past while they may be doing something they deem inappropriate for young eyes and people who are fine with having kids attend as long as they’re cordoned off in Kidsville. And of course, people who really don’t care and wish everyone would just stop talking about it.

However, at the focal point of this topic there is an opinion that has been greatly overlooked.  What about the children themselves who had grown up amongst the culture? It is a voice worth exploring, and as no two experiences are ever the same at Burning Man, I’d like to encourage everyone to talk to a Burner kid about it. I was such a child and while I’ve grown away from the Burning Man culture and rarely make the pilgrimage out to the Playa, I was there, I experienced, and I was changed.

Read more »

February 13th, 2014  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

What does it mean to have “Decommodification” as a principle?

[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.]

(de)Commodification

Read more »

February 5th, 2014  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

A few ground rules for talking about the 10 Principles

We can talk about this stuff all day.

We can talk about this stuff all day.

[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.]

Okay, anyone who read the headline to this post and asked “Who the fuck are you to set ground rules for talking about the 10 Principles?” gets a gold star.  The rest of you need to stay after class and clean the erasers.

Anyone in the second group who just asked “Who the fuck are you to make me stay after class and clean the erasers?” is beginning to get it.  Nice work.

The rest of you need to dig a hole and stick your heads in it.

I can go on like this all day.

What I’m doing is setting some context … background information … for when I talk about the 10 Principles.  It’s how I think about them.  Your mileage may vary, but I think these are good and useful axioms that help orient the 10 Principles in the larger universe of Philosophy and Epistemology.

Those of you who don’t give a damn about philosophy and epistemology may want to dig a hole and stick your heads in it.

I swear I’m not going to stop until someone sticks their head in a hole they dug themselves.

Read more »

January 20th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

A few thoughts about “Caravansary”

Arrival of a Caravan Outside the City of Marrakesh (Edwin Lord Weeks)So … “caravansary,” huh?

Okay … a few thoughts.  Three, in fact.

 

1)  Yippie!

I have to admit that on a purely imaginative, aesthetic, level, this theme hits my sweet spot.  Fires my brain, inspires my fancy, in a manner that has nothing to do with rational appreciation.

I’m prepared to admit, if pressed, that there’s no accounting for taste, but I’m announcing my bias:  I can’t give a fair accounting of it because this theme makes me want to write a series of short stories about a fantasy-world bazaar loosely based on real-world Burning Man.

I’m not actually going to do that.  I’m probably not actually going to DO anything about the theme at all.  I’m much too lazy for that level of commitment.   I just “go to Burning Man” and see what happens.

But yeah, on an inspirational level?  Loving this.

 

2)  Potentially challenging to Burner culture

Read more »

January 13th, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Wanna help John Law save some history?

They're not usually this colorful - that was an art thing. (Photo by Scott Beale)

They’re not usually this colorful – that was an art thing. (Photo by Scott Beale)

For decades Burning Man co-founder John Law has been one of a small band of pranksters bringing the historic Doggie Diner Heads to cacophony and counter-cultural events.  It may not have been at Burning Man, but it’s been a part of our scene for years.  I’ve seen them coming around the corner, parked on the streets – it’s magic.

Being John Law he’s done the work, logged the miles, paid for the gas, and everything else out of his own pocket, without asking for a thing.

But now, after all these years, the Doggie Diner Heads need repair, and restoring three vintage, 10-foot-tall, 300lb fiberglass and metal sculptures is a pretty big job.

If you’re interested in helping, check out the Doggie Diner restoration project Kickstarter page.

It’s a great cause, he’s offering some fairly astonishing rewards at the higher levels, and it will keep a delightful part of our San Francisco Bay Area weirdness going for another few decades.

Take a look.

ADDENDUM – I’ve just learned that the Doggie Diner Heads have been to Burning Man twice:  in 1993, and 1996.  Waaaaay before my time, but clearly a part of our history!

Caveat is the Volunteer Coordinator for Media Mecca at Burning Man is the former mascot of a fast food haggis franchise that never made it big outside a neighborhood in Glasgow.  His opinions are in no way statements of the Burning Man organization. Contact him at Caveat (at) Burningman.com

January 2nd, 2014  |  Filed under Culture (Art & Music)

Burning Man is not a Meritocracy

Flaming Saucer

A bunch of merit goes up in flames.

Burning Man as a cultural force is getting more interesting, not less, as it gets more mainstream attention and access to discourses about self and society.  (Why yes, “Discourses about Self and Society” WAS a seminar that I took as a sophomore English major.  Why do you ask?)  No major cultural movement travels in a straight line, and no one can tell which aspects of Burner culture will be most challenging, or potentially revolutionary, as it catches on in new cultures and geographies.

The most interesting new challenge I see emerging comes as Burning Man is increasingly attended, referenced, and cited, by both academics and members of the tech industry – work cultures that, in their own ways, claim to be highly driven meritocracies.

Both are increasingly citing Burning Man as a model and a form of inspiration.  And yet Burning Man … fundamentally and unambiguously … is not a meritocracy.  Is, in fact, perhaps our most significant cultural movement at the present time to directly challenge the very idea that a meritocracy is the way we want to order society.

(Why yes, “The Way We Want to Order Society” was a post-graduate seminar I took during the summer for no credit.  Why do you ask?)

This isn’t an explicit challenge, of course:  one of the most interesting (and I’d argue effective) things about Burning Man is precisely that it doesn’t require anyone to sign a loyalty oath when they walk through the gate.  (Unless you count a spanking …)  Burning Man no more “calls out” a meritocracy any more than it calls out industrial pollution.  But just as there’s no question that, taken to their even vaguely logical conclusions, the principles of Burning Man – if followed – would prevent industrial pollution, it’s pretty clear that – if followed – the principles of Burning Man would dismantle the application of meritocracies. Read more »