Posts for category The Ten Principles

March 27th, 2013  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Burning Man may be the future, but it’s not an escape

Great book. Facile comparison with Burning Man.

In a recent Io9 article, futurist Jamais Cascio says that Burning Man “is often the ‘default’ scenario for tomorrow’s culture among many futurists.”


It’s taken a over 25 years for a small organization to build an annual event that attracts some 60,000 people, and they’re still struggling to build a non-profit cultural movement out of it … but now there’s a group of “visionaries” who consider the culture we’re building together to be the “default scenario” for the future of mankind.

Hey look, everybody:  we’re inevitable!

I suppose that’s a compliment.  But … hey, what kind of future is that exactly anyway?

“It’s one of ‘expanded rights,’ with mainstream acceptance for everything from gay marriage and group marriage, to human-robot romances and even more unusual relationships. It would also involve ‘acceptance of cultural experimentation, and the dominance of the leisure society [where] robots do all of the work [and] humans get to play/make art/take drugs/have sex.’”


Are we sure that’s us?

The writer’s sure, going on to compare the “Burning Man default scenario” for the future with Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

In some ways, this vision hasn’t changed much since Aldous Huxley wrote about a hedonistic pseudo-Utopia in his 1932 novel Brave New World. Freed from necessity, humans can experiment with new kinds of social arrangements and turn life into a game.

Is that really what we’re like?

It’s hard to tell, at least going by the things Burning Man is compared to.  Which is to say, just about everything. Read more »

March 7th, 2013  |  Filed under Afield in the World, The Ten Principles

Why the 10 Principles? Because you never change the world the same way twice

[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.]

Inspiration can be stronger than gravity

During her presentation at Burning Man headquarters last night, Nicole Radziwill gave an example of the way she’s trying to integrate the 10 Principles into her classroom at James Madison University. (“The Burning Mind Project”)

“I was trying to figure out how to emphasize Gifting,” she said (I’m quoting from memory, so this is inexact). “When we came to a point in my Artificial Intelligence class when I’d have them do projects, I told them ‘All right, you can do projects alone or in groups, but before you do that I want you to ask yourself: ‘what do I have that I can give to a group project? What important thing do I have to offer?’ Think about that, find your answer, and in another class we’re going to present it to everyone together.”

What happened next, she said, was that students got up and told personal stories about the work they’d done in the past and the work they wanted to do in the future, and what they were passionate about offering if they could. Other students started responding. “They said ‘hey, I did something similar once, and if we put those things together we could do this really amazing thing,’” she remembers – and suddenly she had groups of students coming together to work on projects they cared deeply about.

It sounds like an amazing experience, and shows the potential that an activity like “bringing the 10 Principles into the classroom” has to inspire meaningful change.    It’s the kind of effort we’re going to see a lot more of in the next few years.   Read more »

February 8th, 2013  |  Filed under Technology, The Ten Principles

Connectivity Vs. Immediacy

[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.]


“This will never fit into a Twitter update.”

Ten years ago I saw a guy dressed like a stockbroker walking along the Esplanade. He was wearing a dust-covered suit and tie, yelling into a cell phone, “Sell, I said! SELL!!!!” It was cute.

Last year I saw quite a few people checking cell phones at Center Camp throughout the week. It was not cute.

Over the years, cell phone & internet access has become more and more accessible at Burning Man – and I think it is a shame. Do I have any right to dictate how someone behaves or “Radically Expresses” themselves? Nope. But I think the Playa’s rare gift of “Immediacy” is in jeopardy.

I was asked about my thoughts this week and clarified my frustration in the video below.

These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization or Major League Baseball.

December 14th, 2012  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Why Not Implement Identity-Based Ticketing?

In the wake of 2012 ticket sales, a number of people have called for Burning Man to implement an identity-based ticketing system (non-transferable, name-on-ticket). There are valid points on both sides of this question, and it is something we have thought about and discussed at length. Putting aside the many challenges inherent in executing an ID-based ticketing system, the case may certainly be made that not-transferable tickets might better serve the needs of ticket holders if they are simply regarded as individual consumers of a service or a product. But this approach ignores the complex and interdependent social fabric of our community.

As things stand now, participants are free to bestow tickets on their friends, lovers, campmates or family members — on anyone who they believe should come to the event. This form of ticket distribution often occurs spontaneously and is independent of any authorizing agency. It is an extension of the gift giving ethic that informs our culture. Furthermore, the chief argument advanced in support of identity-based ticketing is that such a system prevents profiteering by scalpers. But we have found that little more than 1% of ticket sales can be attributed to scalping in 2012. Even in the face of scarcity, a vast majority of ticket buyers appear to have honored a social compact that values persons over profit. Burning Man is an experiment in community, and in 2013 we will continue to invest our faith in that community.

[Editor's Note: If you do sell your ticket, we ask that you sell it at face value, and if you're buying one, to find one to purchase at face value.]

November 2nd, 2012  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

Mourning the limits of Radical Inclusion

Paul Addis was a few years older than me, and had been around Burning Man a lot longer. I bumped into him twice off-playa, made fun of him in print once, and know two long-time community members who at one point considered him a friend.

That was the extent of our connection – yet I find myself pushing his recent death before me wherever I go, a burden that does not belong to me but that I cannot lift alone.

Maybe this is because our community has lost several stars from its constellation this year, and while I didn’t know any of them, the sense of loss is cumulative, building up until those outside the funerals are in mourning too.

Or maybe it is because Paul, in his own troubled way, was trying to do exactly what we all are: he was trying to be an artist. He was trying to burn brightly. He was trying to act on the inspiration we all get from our common heritage in Burning Man and the Cacophony Society. The devil’s in the details, but from a thousand foot view he would be seen on the same path as all the rest of us.

I mean … we’re all crazy. Let us not forget that for most people in the world, the act of going out to the desert to build a giant man and burn him is itself far crazier than the decision to burn it on a Monday instead of a Saturday.

But I think what really troubles me is the way in which his leap reminds me of just how easy it is for any of us to fall through the cracks.

We like to think Burning Man can protect us.  Instead, I fear that Paul Addis represents the limits of radical inclusion. Read more »

September 6th, 2012  |  Filed under Afield in the World, Photos/Videos/Media, The Ten Principles

Halcyon’s Tips & Tricks #13: Decompressing

Time to return to our Alter Ego's

Time to return to our Alter Ego’s

Well, that was amazing.

Now comes the hard part: Adjusting back to life in the default world.

I am not going to pretend it isn’t rough. But after 15 years of making the transition, I wanted to share a few things that help me.

1) You can be the same person.
The default world will not treat you the way that the people of Black Rock City do. But you can still treat everyone here the way that you did out there: Be kind. Be wacky. Open your heart and share your gifts. In time, more and more people will respond as Burners…whether they’ve been to BRC or not. Read more »

August 6th, 2012  |  Filed under The Ten Principles

You got your Burning Man in my Activism! You got your Activism in my Burning Man!

He did not ask me to sign a petition (Photo by Caveat)

You can complain about hippies and sunburns anywhere, but only at Burning Man can you say how much you hate people who disguise their construction equipment as plants or who organize remote control shark attacks at the pier after midnight.

Burning Man is a beautiful rainbow of things that might piss someone off, and so there are as many complaints about Burning Man as there are Burners.

But among those people who object to Burning Man as an entity – as a thing that exists at all – there are three specific objections to who we are and what we do.

One is that Burning Man is immoral and a danger to the youth of America … much like sex.  Another is that Burning Man just isn’t as good as it used to be … much like democracy.

The third objection is the most pernicious, and it has just been leveled again by the writer Fenton Johnson in this summer’s issue of Tikkun magazine.  This objection takes many forms but it boils down to a fairly simple idea:  “Burning Man does not live up to its own values.”

Here’s how Fenton puts it in his article “Burning Man, Desire, and the Culture of Empire,” (PDF) the title of which is already a pretty strong indication of just how much he may be over thinking this:

“Instead of seeing Burning Man as ‘part of a solution to our modern malaise,’ I can as easily see it as a late-stage expression of manifest destiny — the absolute need of white men to impose our will on every landscape, even the most remote and forbidding. Its gift economy does not eliminate money but requires that we spend it — a lot of it — before we arrive, in contrast to earlier utopian experiments that presumed frugality.” Read more »

July 24th, 2012  |  Filed under Spirituality, The Ten Principles

The Pffffft Principle vs. The Playa

It is so hard to explain how The Playa can change your life. For me, a huge part of it was finding a community of people who would support and encourage my creative impulses. In a world of voices that say, “pfffft” and roll their eyes at anything outside the norm, it can be downright transformative to be told, “YES! Be You… and do it LOUD.”

As we prepare for another magical year in the dust, thank you in advance for singing your heartsong, and encouraging me to sing mine.

Last year I hosted a talk about this topic in the middle of a Tuesday duststorm on the Playa:

*I’ll be hosting HugNation on the Playa this year again on Tuesday. And again, with a Pink Ride, on Thursday. Join us!

**NOTE: I AM NOT AN OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF BURNING MAN. I am merely a Participant with a passion for the event, people, and principles of Burning Man. Half-baked ideas & views expressed aren’t necessarily those of the Burning Man organization.” **