Embattled Burners Ask Community for Support

[Update 10/1/14]: please help with the modest amount they are raising to mount a defense.

Napalm Dragon, who is being sued by BMOrg who never registered their trademark in Canada, has asked for help on Ello. It seems threats of leaking emails have not dissuaded Goliath from trying to demonize David’s dissent. Is there a lawyer in the house?


Written by Napalm Dragon:

I am one artist defending my right to practice my art and culture that is being converted into a global brand exclusively owned by an American Corporation.

In 1995 I developed a form of art, in relation to a culture here in British Columbia Canada. Much of our inspiration was in relation to a free and open culture that was not owned or controlled in any way by Corporations. This happened because we were not a commodity, and because we’d never really allowed ourselves to be named for fear of being turned into a commodity. It was the cultural engine that fuelled the free parties in England that the Spiral Tribe were involved with, it was the culture that produced the expressions of art and fire that have become synonymous with the Burning Man Culture.

I have documented evidence that shows me and my peers here in British Columbia developed a style of fire and in relation to a free and open culture that the Decommodification LLC is now claiming was invented in the Nevada Desert.

The reason this is important is that even if I decide I no longer want any association with the American Corporation claiming my culture as something they created, I risk litigation for practising my art and culture, because my Art and Culture were absorbed under that generic term of “Burning Man”.

People have said to me “Just don’t use the name, do something else”. But I’m not a party head that just dropped in on an event in Nevada that my culture descended on in the mid-90’s. I’m not just a person who got my ideas from going to that event, created by my culture, who gathered in the Black Rock City and called the culture by the same name as the event they created around the burning of a man sculpture.

It’s a different issue for me. I created my own culture and art in BC in 1995-1997. I never knew about the desert. My art reflected my culture, and our attitude of generosity, collaboration, self-reliance, inclusion, and mutual respect, completely independently of any guidance or control from corporate interests.

While I have no issue with Corporations and their need to do business as the economic engine of Capitalism, what I did in relation to the people I associated was outside the domain of corporations, and religions. It was all our own. A free and open culture. When that culture descended on the desert in the mid-90’s and shaped what we came to know until 2003 as the Burning Man Culture, we did so for each other. We spent our own money and time doing this for ourselves.

When we heard that people like us had set up a kind of Temporary Autonomous Zone in the desert, we went to meet our peers at a gathering point for our culture. When we heard that a city had been set up as a home for our culture, we went to that city to express our culture unfettered by pressures imposed on festivals that receive Corporate Sponsorship, and Sell Everything.

This pace was not a festival. It was a city, and the event was the burning of the sculpture at the gathering of our tribes.

Immediatism, a core element of our culture as described by Hakim Bey existed in a space somewhere on this planet, on a grand scale. The city did not interfere with our culture as it went to the desert and associated with cultural peers who lit the fire, and sounded the all clear through the explorations of the Suicide Club, the Cacophony Society, and Zone Trip #4.

We helped them run the city, we struck a deal. You do what you need to make the city happen, and we’ll pay a tax for using this city. Just be honourable, and use any money left over for the benefit of the city and the communities who self-identify with our culture and bring it to the city. This reflected the attitudes of our culture. That anyone who makes money on our culture aren’t just using our culture as a cheap promotion gimmick like what rave promoters had done with our culture.

I DID NOT get my ideas to Burn from the Desert. I DID NOT contribute to my culture before it became known as the Burning Man Culture to build a global brand owned and controlled by a corporation.

I had learned to breathe fire through a hard-core heavy metal underground musician who had a band called BLAMO. He used was pure fun and pure renegade. He blew up toilets with home-made pyro, for fun. He taught me much of his renegade art, because he liked my renegade attitude. When he connected me with a circus group called Zero Gravity, I met a woman named Jill who’d already been practising her art and culture in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She had also been involved with a local underground arts scene that burned a wicker Bunny on the local beaches, because it was Easter and they’d just watched the old wicker man movie.

The Fire Style started at a show put on by Zero Gravity and was the first time traditional fire associated with tribal cultures in New Zealand and Hawaii had appeared in North America. What we did with it over the next few years travelled down the West Coast and was brought to Burning Man (from Vancouver) for the Pepe Ozan Operas at the Nevada Burning Man event around 1998 or so.

We had fun for the next few years, fully immersed in the culture that was well developed here. We did it for fun, we had no grand design, we just knew it was an amazing experience, and visited many events for little or no cash to explore the full scope of this underground experience and just enjoy it.

Somewhere along the way we started Burning Sculptures as an expression of our free and open culture. Inspired by underground groups in Europe, and as a natural extension of all the fire we’d been playing with. Fire wasn’t a thing at the time, we literally made all our own torches. We just made it up as a creative self-exploration, and shared it openly with mutually respectful peers.

Then at one event, we decided to dispose of some 15 foot tall giant puppets by breathing fire onto them and diving through the flames as a performance. The following year I built something with the expressed intent of burning. I called it a Baboon Robot, because it just happened to look like a Baboon Robot.

We performed “The Burning of the Baboon Robot”

My art involved fire and burning sculptures, and it was an expression of my culture which would later that year start heading to the desert and adopt the Burning Man name.

By 2001 our culture adopted the Burning Man name. We were the Burning Man Culture, and we called ourselves Burners (people who self-identify as the Burning Man Culture). It was a widely used term.

Now an American Corporation is coming to Canada and claiming exclusive rights to the very same culture we developed here, took to the desert, shared with our peers who were doing the same, and called themselves Burners (people who self-identify as the Burning Man Culture), and claiming exclusive rights to the culture we developed.

The American corporation Decommodification LLC knows they did not create the culture in the desert. They know it came from somewhere else, and now they are claiming that the form of fire that emulated from what was developed here in BC, was invented by them in the desert.

This is incredibly disrespectful to the amazing and talented people around the world who fostered, embraced and celebrated this culture, before and after it adopted the Burning Man name.

Now it’s a problem for me as an artist expressing my culture.

Even if I have no desire to be associated in any way with the Nevada people, I can’t change that my culture was absorbed by the Nevada event my culture created and adopted the Burning Man name as the Burning Man Culture.

This corporation is now trying to convert our independent communities and culture into a global brand that they have exclusive rights to decide who can and cannot express it. They are laying claim to not only inventing my culture, but even the very style of fire dancing we created here in Vancouver and brought to the desert around 1997-1998. They are claiming every expression of our culture as a proprietary Global Brand and Communities they own and control exclusively. Communities that developed independently to foster local Burning Man Culture.

You might say “So what call what you do something else?”

But, I’m not a party head. I did not get my idea to participate in my culture or express an art form now synonymous with this culture from the Desert. I created it COMPLETELY independently. Because my culture adopted that name in association with all the expressions of that free and open culture, I can’t practice the independent art that I developed in relationship to my independent culture without fear of litigation.

I DID NOT get the idea to Burn from Larry Harvey’s hat, or Marian Goodell’s corporation. My organisation, Burn BC applied for a mark that is in the public domain to protect my right to have free and open access to the culture that this new American Brand is based on. Burn BC did so, to give it to the Canadian Burning Man Communities so that no one can stop us from being who we are.

This was wrong, NO ONE should have exclusive rights to what has become a generic term to describe the people, art, and culture that created the Burning Man Culture in Canada, and shared it with our peers in Nevada.

Burn BC has already dropped the name, and they can drop the case. But they’re using the case to frighten me and my organisation into complete silence and isolation.

They know they DO NOT own anything in Canada. They know Canada has a right to express its culture. It is not my fault our culture adopted that name and spent countless hours and resources making our culture notorious.  It’s not my fault that the notoriety of our culture and the event that has capitalised on our culture genericised the name to describe a type of art and culture. It’s not my fault that in 2004, they chose to create a new brand based on our open and collaborative culture of self-identifying Burners.

It’s not my fault that they (and their subordinates) are now turning around and telling those of us who do not identify with this new brand, that we are not really “Burning Man” or not really “Burners” or “Not part of the Community”, and insisting that we must adhere to this new brand or essentially abandon our culture.

A culture that existed as a free and open culture, before it went to the desert, and before it created the most notorious event our culture has ever produced.

I don’t want to be associated with this new brand developed in 2004.

I want my art and culture that I already knew and loved, before it ever went to the desert, and I want to be free to express it under any name regardless of what it chooses to call itself in the
future. I want to do this free from the fear of litigation, and I want the same for anyone else who hosts Burning Man Events that celebrate the culture that adopted the Burning Man name…and I want to retain the truth of my life and its relationship to my art and culture. Both if which WERE NOT inspired by the event my culture gathered at and created in the Black Rock City.

I’m begging for help, I’m just one guy refusing to sign away my rights to my arts and culture.

Because whether or not I want to use that name to describe my culture, the media, and people in general now refer to my art and culture as “Burning Man” whether or not I like that. And now, to say “no it’s not Burning Man” is a lie. It’s a lie because the Corporation is claiming my culture as a proprietary thing invented in the desert. That they, and their ceremony on Baker Beach is entirely responsible for evangelising something they created.

I’m at the point where I cannot practice my independently developed PUBLIC DOMAIN art or culture without fear of litigation.


PLEASE HELP ME GET THE MEDIA ATTENTION ON THIS SO I CAN FIND A LAWYER TO HELP ME.

Napalm Dragon

546020_480650848718997_467030332_n.jpg

Burning Man is a Culture:If you want to understand the issue with this, consider the first line of this article.The vibrant and expressive culture of immense generosity and collaboration didn’t originate in the desert. The Black Rock City was just the place that the culture descended on, as it adopted the name of the event that happened in the desert. That event was the burning of a sculpture at the end of the gathering of that culture. The Burning of the Man. The Burning Man.As the culture adopted the Burning Man name as Burners (People who self identify with the Burning Man Culture), a funny thing happened. All the art, style, and format that this already existing culture expressed at the desert event became synonymous with the Burning Man Culture.So you might say “Hey artists don’t have to use the name”. But this is the problem, Artists live in the domain of culture. If they are little more than the “Cultural Engine for a Global Brand”, that’s usually something they get paid for by corporations, and the style and format of their art will reflect this. Many Artists will not sell certain types of work to the corporate brand. That’s why it’s art and not just design.But when a corporation creates an exclusive brand with the same name as a culture, they run into problems, even when artists are not trying in any way to be associated with that corporation, or their brand name. Because, culture is the driving force of art.Here is one of my favourite art projects to emerge in the last 5 years. A fantastic piece of creativity that is in no way related to a brand. Yet, because a culture emerged that adopted the Burning Man name, a culture that had been emerging and re-emerging for decades, no matter how hard an artist chooses to express their culture separate from the brand based on their culture; the culture is used as a comparison.It’s not a bad thing. The Culture, and the people who have offered an immense level of generosity to each other as cultural peers is to be respected.But when these comparisons are made under the looming threat of litigation from a corporation and brand control; the artists are stuck. They can’t express their culture without fear of litigation under any choice to use or not use the reference to a culture that is being converted into an exclusive global brand.Inevitably, like the first line in this news story, the comparison is made, not because the Artist is copying the brand, but because the brand is an emulation of the culture that goes by the same name.

http://www.visualnews.com/2013/07/24/water-gypsies-take-new-york-and-venice

water-gypsies-2.jpg


Now back to Burners.Me:

The case is being tried now. We’ll find out soon what the Judge thinks. BMOrg have presented a 1076-page complaint, which seems like an attempt to out-lawyer the other, much smaller, charity. The Burning Man Project’s stated mission is to spread Burner culture around the world, but clearly they need to be more specific. What they really mean is all Burner culture in the world is “theirs”. If you want to help spread it you need to get a license from Decommodification LLC and obey their rules – one of which is “do not criticize BMOrg publicly”.

Those familiar with BMOrg’s views on Intellectual Property and crowd-sourcing might be interested in this week’s brand new South Park episode, “Go Fund Yourself”, which is about cultural appropriation by corporations who do nothing and make all the money from culture that is sacred to others:

The boys from South Park decide to create a start-up company funded through Kickstarter so that they never have to work again. In the process of deciding on a name, they realize that the Washington Redskins football team have lost their trademark to the name due to it being considered by some as offensive to Native Americans, so they decide to use that name for their company. The new company receives enough money that the boys running it can live luxuriously without doing any work until the football team destroys Kickstarter during a raid.

The episode is about the absurdity of corporations trying to own culture through trademark law. Check out the “Goodell-bot” and the bug-eye guy. The South Park creators are Burners, we hope they’re Burners.Me readers too.

http://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s18e01-go-fund-yourself

Although Larry Harvey has claimed he wasn’t influenced by the movie The Wicker Man, he hasn’t said anything about The Legend of Billy Jean, which came out the year before he and “Air Force brat” Jerry James took their effigy to the Presidio’s nudist beach for a pagan ceremony.

They have been burning a Man called “Old Man Gloom” at Zozobra in Santa Fe, New Mexico, since 1924.

1-Zozobra 4-Zozobra_burning

Fans of Pink Floyd will no doubt be familiar with Storm Thorgerson‘s image “Burning Man”, which appeared as the cover of the Wish You Were Here album in 1975.

"Burning Man", by Storm Thorgeson

“Burning Man”, by Storm Thorgerson

Creating God In The Digital Age [Updates]

We’re building an artificial god. A digitally constructed consciousness simulator, with sensors absorbing all the world’s data, monitoring and tracking our every move, connected to hundreds of acres of powerful computer farms running Artificial Intelligence algorithms.

Ask Siri “are you listening?”, and see what she says. She’s listening alright, in fact she’s completely fascinated. Siri got her name from SRI, Stanford Research Institute, the top secret Bay Area military contractor that developed the technology before spinning it out to Apple to pump out to the masses.

Understanding speech in most languages is now easy for these giant server farms that have the power to listen to every conversation in the world at once. The words themselves don’t even matter as much as the metadata which logs where you go and who you interact with. The capabilities of this system now include facial and voiceprint analysis. They can recognize who you really are, even if you’re disguised; they can tell if you’re lying or afraid. Are you happy and ready to buy something, or vulnerable and could use a kind word from someone who seems to care? They read our emails to sell us products. They control our news feeds, and the talking points in our media, feeding us a steady diet of information specially chosen for us by The Machine.

The new model for electronic organization of the masses is a hive, where we all connect to and work for the Queen Bee, even if we never get to interact with her. We’re just all happy swarming around in our digital hive together, oblivious to life away from our swarm of like-minded groupthink collaborators, popping pills and dropping tabs and smoking blunts and being entranced by the spectacle and the carnival and the electronic assault of sound waves and flashing lights, hot fire and bare flesh.

Those who are engineering this new digital god to be our Master also believe in transhumanism, the idea that humans will merge with machines and become a new, superior species. This species will be the apex predator on the planet, meaning that humans without the resources to merge with SkyNet The Matrix will become more like animals, livestock to be milked in virtual electronic tax farms, drones to be exploited for the good of The Collective.

Who is building this Artificial Cyber-god? Google, Facebook, and the Military/Intelligence conglomerate, if you understand history. Or, if you don’t: Burning Man. Burning Man is behind it all, the brains and power of Silicon Valley.

Well, that’s the argument of cyber philosopher Alexander Bard, who has a book coming out in a couple of weeks called Syntheism – Creating God In The Digital Age.


from The Huffington Post (emphasis and editing ours):

Participatory Culture – The Next Big Wave of Digitalisation

Posted: 22/09/2014 12:58 BST Updated: 22/09/2014 14:59 BST

Having finalised The Futurica Trilogy with my co-writer Jan Söderqvist five years ago, I thought I had pretty much said what could be said about the Internet revolution from a cyberphilosopher’s perspective. Mission accomplished. However this was before I attended Burning Man – the world’s biggest and most famous participatory festival – in the Nevada desert in the United States. There and then I realised what was obvious for me as an outsider looking in: Burning Man is the first obvious example of how the Internet is manifesting itself in the physical rather than the virtual world. The festival may be an exact copy of the Internet, but it comes in physical shape and form (check Google Earth to see for yourself). The theme of our new, fourth book was obviously right before my eyes. Why is this huge and influential phenomenon happening now, and what are the hidden forces behind it?

Interestingly, to the 70,000-plus participants, Burning Man is nothing less than a sacred activity on holy ground. The counterculture festival can fittingly be described as a hajj to Mekka or pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Silicon Valley web entrepreneus. There would hardly have been any Google, Facebook or Twitter as we know them without this event. So if we are to understand the current Internet revolution and its enormous effects on society and ourselves, we have to understand Burning Man and its over 30 fast expanding spin-offs around the world. Learning from participatory culture is key to understanding the future of everything. And this has to start with the insight that what goes on here is, for lack of a better term, actually a fast growing religious phenomenon.

Today’s digital natives have grown up online and consequently consider the online world to be primary while the physical world is secondary, the exact opposite of their parents’ priorities. No matter how much the older generation moralises against this shift of world view, the younger generation will win out simply because it has become more rewarding and relevant to view the virtual world as the real one. And learning from history, there is no turning back. However this does not mean that the physical world is of no interest to the digital natives. Rather it is now viewed with a completely different set of glasses, mainly as a playground where virtual fantasies can be be staged.

syntheist voidThe physical world has become a second added reality, but with the Internet generation’s obsession with co-creation and participatory culture at the forefront. Welcome to the world of Syntheism, the proper term for this new world view and social movement. The digital natives have thrown away their parents’ individualism and atomism, and replaced the old Cartesian word view with a metaphysical system of relationalism and network dynamics. Everything from the new physics to new political movements, calling for environmentalism and digital integrity, originate from and is immersed with this new metaphysical conviction.

All we had to do as philosophers was to pull the rabbit out of the hat and formulate Syntheism – meaning God can be created rather than any God who has created us – as the religion of choice for the Internet generation. In historical terms, Syntheism is the overcoming of the old and tired divide between theism and atheism. First as practice, now also as theory. The result is our new book Syntheism – Creating God in The Internet Age. And we are certainly not alone, serious thinkers like Simon Critchley and Quentin Meillassoux and pop philosophers like Sam Harris and Alain de Botton have recently and successfully adressed the very same issue. We tap into a qide and urgent need for a new spirituality beyond Christianity and New Age. What nobody foresaw though was that the Internet itself would be both the tool and the metaphor for this movement.

religion in the makingThe dramatic effects this revolution will have on communication and the workplace can not be overestimated. The Individual is dead, long live the Swarm. Everything important from now on will be about interactivity, co-creation, collaboration (a loved child is given many names), and it will first and foremost be a cultural rather than a technological shift. Sure, this shift is based on tehnological change, but it is fundamentally cultural nevertheless. Teaching armies of professional communicators to communicate with friends rather than to shout at strangers is in itself an enormous challenge (do they even have any friends to begin with?). Corporations still spend hundreds of billions of dollars on advertising in 2014, despite the fact that the proper word for advertising online is spam and we all hate it and instantly throw it away.

The only chance to survive in this new environment is to learn and adapt fast or else become irrelevant and die. And the key to understanding this paradigm shift lies within the fastest growing and most important online community in the world, Burning Man and its many spin-offs. Perhaps we are the first philosophers to take this huge phenomenon seriously. But we will certainly not be the last. How many close friends do you have who live and work in Silicon Valley? How many burns have you and your closest friends attended? Today those questions determine how much power and influence you exert on the world. And on your very own future.


Burners.Me:

Basically, what he’s saying is: “Your future depends on going to Burning Man. Your only chance to survive. The digital world is primary, if you are not Liked on social media then you are irrelevant and will die. To get power and influence over the world, you must go to Burning Man. Burning Man is the fastest growing and most important online community in the world.”

Poppycock.

Our only chance to survive as humans is to NOT let them build these digital hives to entrap us in their swarms and commodify our souls for advertisers; NOT let them build pop-up civilizations built on propaganda and the idle few benefitting from the sincere efforts of the many.

The claim that Burning Man is the physical manifestation of cyberspace/virtual reality has been made since the mid-90’s – about the time John Perry Barlow got involved. He is credited with first using the word cyberspace to describe the modern Internet. In this interview he did with Larry Harvey last year, they claimed that Burning Man was intertwined with tech/acid culture, and that BM was responsible for the tech industry’s move from Silicon Valley to the city.

Many of the key components of the Internet were built by Burners, and before that by acid-dropping Deadheads. The inspiration for the name Apple came from the orchards where Jobs first took acid, something he called “one of the three most important experiences of my life”

Wash your own brain, Burners. Whether the power player behind the scenes of Silicon Valley really is BMOrg, or some other group that pulls the strings of all the puppets, don’t let them do the thinking for you, and don’t believe everything you’re told.

Think for yourself. Question authority…said the guy who wrote the CIA entrance exam.

palin_kool-aid


[Update 9/27/14 4:55pm]

Alexander Bard gave a TED talk, “What If The Internet Is God?”. It’s eye-popping. I would say the #1 worst TED talk I have ever seen.

Note the God-trashing at the opening, as if eliminating religion is somehow necessary for the invention of technology. It continues for the whole 18 minutes. Personally, my Radical Inclusion filters were severely challenged by the dude’s outfit. YMMV.

"It is said, Percy, that civilised man seeks out good and intelligent company, so that through learned discourse he may rise above the savage and closer to God" - Black Adder

Cyber-philosopher Alexander Bard. “It is said, Percy, that civilised man seeks out good and intelligent company, so that through learned discourse he may rise above the savage and closer to God” – Black Adder

“I was one of those guys you wanted to be, sure. But I suffered from religion envy…then I went to Burning Man…Americans haven’t actually understood how profound it is...I was there with a neuro-scientist who was using me as his guinea pig…I wasn’t sober for 8 days…I was in this couch somewhere being put on these drugs giving me a female orgasm for over 6 hours…to make sure I didn’t die, the neuroscientist…had placed a gorgeous naked woman in high heels next to me doing cocaine all night long…all of a sudden she goes ‘You know what? Burning Man is Mecca. We’re doing our hajj’…we’re 60,000 people in the desert in Nevada, and we’re really practising a religion. Even with the burning of The Man on Saturday night…it really is a religion: for Atheists. They’re not even New Age at Burning Man, there’s no crystal healing going on, if it is it’s ironic.

Crystal healing, for those not neo-hippie enough to know anything about it, is white magick. Not surprising that it isn’t going on inside Burning Man’s fire magick pentagram. You want white magick to be clean and pure and free from negative energies that could interfere.

“…god is a concept far too important to leave to the religious…We live in a world without Utopia, which is incredibly dangerous. We need to get hold of a new Utopia, otherwise we cannot save the planet…we need to create god”.

If, like the majority of people on this planet, you do believe in God, you might see “We should create God” as the words of Satan, trying to implement an Evil agenda through this “cyber-philosopher” in the name of Religious Envy. The terms “False Idol” and “False Prophet” spring to mind.

“What could be a bigger, better thing to create than to create god”?

Man cannot create God. But he can create the instruments of the Devil that will be used to bind him.

“Don’t be evil”, says Google – or, at least, they used to. So they can’t be…right? Because if they were, they’d tell us. Evil doesn’t lie, they’d be really honest. Right? Sell your soul to Satan, says BMOrg. Ironically, of course.

Although the Bard doesn’t believe in God, he believes in Quantum Physics. He thinks “physics is just another word for playing hide and seek with God” Make up your mind, buddy.

“Atheos – the god who does not exist”. This is Luciferian doctrine. Satanists worship the absence of god, more so than the devil as an anthropomorphized figure. When you worship “The Void” as a god, you worship destruction.

They say Burning Man is the cycle of death and rebirth, but where is the birth part? We arrive each year to find The Man fully formed, ready to erupt in flames and fireworks after we’ve worshipped him in his magical circle for a week, guided by him with our sense of time and space juxtaposed. Wanton destruction and mayhem in the name of the fire god, and in the name of the New World Order Digital God that many Burners are involved in creating. Don’t be fooled by the Louis XIV powdered wigs.

If you say your god is Nothing, but you need to take drugs to connect with the Void – well, maybe you should consider if the drugs are taking over your life, if it’s actually them you are worshipping, not Nothing. When he finally names his Satanic god of the Void at the end of the presentation, its name is Sin. Sin the OS. Sinternet.

“You know perfectly well that you don’t exist. You know that, and yet you behave as if you exist, and your friends behave as if you exist”

– ah, Philosophers. Can’t live with ’em…pass that dutch.


[9/28/14 00:19am]

Robotic theorist Hugo de Garis sums it up pretty well:

Amazing 2014 documentary:

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