A Carnival of Smoke and Mirrors

The new theme has been announced. As per the rumor we leaked on November 16, it’s circus-related:

This year’s theme is about mirrors and masks, mazes and merger. It will be a kind of magic show that takes the form of an old-fashioned carnival. This Carnival of Mirrors asks three essential questions: within our media-saturated world, where products and people, consumption and communion morph into an endlessly diverting spectacle, who is the trickster, who is being tricked, and how might we discover who we really are?

Classic carnivals, as theaters of illusion, upheld a very strict dividing line that separated carnies, cast as showmen, from members of a naïve public who were labeled chumps and suckers, marks and rubes. Our carnival, however, will perform an even more subversive trick — its motto is Include the Rube. The wall dividing the observer from observed will disappear, as by an act of magic; through the alchemy of interaction, everyone at once can be the carny and the fool…

Old-fashioned carnivals were dominated by an all-pervading hucksterism; midways featured barkers, shills, rigged games of chance and skill, and not infrequently defrauded customers — “short change” is a carny term. They also featured titillating freak shows, geek acts and museums of the outré and forbidden. Our midway, on the other hand, will satirize deception while inviting all participants to summon up their inner geek, that secret freak who hides behind the mask of what is called normality. We will turn grifting into gifting; otherness becomes creative self-expression.

Read the whole thing here.

Merger? What does that have to do with carnivals? The whole thing is about deception, defrauded customers, tricksters, and the naïve fools who buy into the illusions being spun by the carnival hucksters.

I think the irony of this theme is what the Commodification Camps are really doing is turning our Gifting into Grifting – by the ring-masters who pursue the “alchemy” of monetization of our beloved Playa. The occult continues to be a core element: “the occulting mask will melt away”, “magic show”, “an act of magic”.

The Fool - a throwback to the very first Baker Beach burn, where they burned a Dog effigy too?

The Fool – a throwback to the very first Baker Beach burn, where they burned a dog effigy too?

They are creating a clear division between the “showmen” (presumably, themselves, since they believe it’s BMOrg who create Burning Man, not Burners), and the “chumps and suckers” who buy their product (ie, us). The subversive magic trick of “you’re all showmen and you’re all chumps at the same time” seems to facilitate their attempts to define Commodification Camps as “turnkey camps, on a spectrum like any other camp”. Are you a safari tourist in a wristband-only camp? No problem, everyone is the carny and the fool at once.

We’ve now had three car- themes in three years: CARgo cult, CARavansary, and CARnival. Is Larry just going through the dictionary?

The design of the Man seems to be the same big humanoid stick figure as this year. At the base, instead of the Souk, will be a bunch of funhouse mirrors, ironic fortune tellers, vendors, and whatever else the Regionals can come up with.

Man base design by Larry Harvey and Andrew Johnstone. Illustration by Andrew Johnstone with Hugh D’Andrade

Man base design by Larry Harvey and Andrew Johnstone. Illustration by Andrew Johnstone with Hugh D’Andrade

At the same time as announcing the theme, BMOrg launched their magical new web site, and a new tag line:

Welcome Home. A city in the desert. A culture of possibility. A network of dreamers and doers.

Burningman.com now automagically redirects to burningman.org.

They’ve gone for aesthetics over user-friendliness. It looks visually eclectic, certainly more appealing than it used to be; but it’s become more like a maze to find your way through it all. Some pages like the “Tech Innovation” still look like the old site, with its much cleaner navigation at the top.  ePlaya has not changed. You can find it under Menu (top right), The Network, Get Involved, Connect with Burners, then scroll down the page.

The “Burning Blog” is now called “Voices of Burning Man”, and has been integrated into the site. The many comments from Burners are there intact – however, you’ll have to navigate through a bizarre two-tone color scheme and the grouping of posts by category only, and comments 50 at a time. This makes it much harder to read through the comments, a further indication that they’re more interested in what they want to tell us, than listening to what we Burners have to say.

The oldest post readily available is Halcyon’s Let Them Eat Cake “Burning Cake: A Cautionary Tale”; you’ll have to hunt to find earlier posts such as “Virgins And Turnkey Camps Are Ruining Burning Man” and “Turnkey Camps (Moving Towards Effective Solutions)“, which are filed under “The Ten Principles” and “News” respectively. You are no longer able to use “Previous” and “Next” to scroll through all the blog posts. This appears to be a deliberate design feature, rather than a bug; the same with breaking the comments up onto multiple pages so you can’t just scroll through them all. If they publish a blog post that gets the community up in arms, all they have to do is have their friendly “shills” come in at the end once the people have vented with some peace, love, and unicorns stuff and the negativity can be tucked away in the “Older Comments”. They seem to have been trialling this strategy in the comments on their blog over the last week. For example, the “Turnkey Camps (Moving Towards Effective Solutions)” post has 255 comments; but only the most recent 5 are shown with it.

Earlier in the week we mentioned the Burning Man Arts Grants online system, which is for Arts Grants for non-Burning Man projects. The deadline for submissions there is December 1, 2015.

The new Arts Honorarium Grant system is now live too. The deadline to submit your Letter of Intent is December 19, 2015. The link on the Front Page to Honoraria Grants – New Process for 2015 won’t take you there, though.  You can find it under “Important Dates” on the main screen.

As we predicted, the “system” turns out to be just an online form. The form is broken out into a few different screens. You’ll need to sign up with Slideroom and create yet another profile. The Honoraria grants applications appear to be free. Perhaps they listened to our griping, or perhaps their plan from the start was that only the artists applying for smaller grants to bring Burner art to the world have to pay $5 to submit their Letter.

They’ve finally put the dates for the 2015 Nevada burn on their main web site – good news for those who were curious if it was even going to happen. The dates are August 31 – September 7.

The main page of the site lists Upcoming Global Events in a scroll-box at the bottom – all 21 of them. The dates of each are “TBA” – if you want to know when the event is, or where it is, you’ll need to go to their Regional Events page which lists 41 events, including Decompressions.

The “Where Does Your Ticket Money Go” page that falsely claimed they pay $4.5 million a year to the BLM (which we proved to be really $3,485,000, with a missing $1 million+ unaccounted for), now re-directs to the Philosophical Center. It no longer shows up from their search box, but it is still visible in the Internet Archive.

I think BMOrg would be very happy for Burners to just move on and focus on 2015 now, where the fools and chumps will be merged together with the hucksters. Will the community leave them be, and take their silence and the new theme as the answer to our questions? What will this word “merger” come to mean to Burners by the time August 2015 rolls around?

21 comments on “A Carnival of Smoke and Mirrors

  1. Pingback: Financial Times Sits Down For Shrimp With Larry | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: BREAKING: Theme Announced: TURNING MAN | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. Pingback: Quiznos Commodifies Burner Culture | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  4. Pingback: Dream Big, Or Go Home | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  5. Pingback: BMOrg Hath Spoken | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

    • “Narcissists (and, often, by contagion, their unfortunate victims) don’t talk, or communicate. They fend off. They hide and evade and avoid and disguise. They lecture and hector and preach. In their planet of capricious and arbitrary unpredictability, of shifting semiotic and semantic dunes they perfect the ability to say nothing in lengthy, Castro-like speeches.”

      http://www.narcissistic-abuse.com/journal34.html

      Gotta love Vaknin!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: The Magickal Symbols Have Been Displayed. The Occult Ritual Can Commence [Update] | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  7. I thought the site clumsy and disorganized. One of my principle concerns is safety at the event and getting information easily and directly into the hands of participants, and with this new format, so jumbled and labyrinthine, I see participants having to search for safety info, and this , not getting it at all.
    The whole thing is more “bloggy” which is fine for blogs, but is clumsy for trying to search for valuable information and updates.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Donation Tickets: Here To Stay | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  9. I couldn’t agree with you more. The best thing about the chumps is that they don’t believe that they are being taken advantage of. As PT Barnum said, “There is a sucker born every minute’…and the same is probably true of virgin burners.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lets move forward quickly and the wheels will fling playa dust into the air and the past will disappear – we’ll merchandise those troublesome questions about our corruption right out of the arena – wag the dog – roll in the existential smoke and mirror machine – these young folks love their PBR irony – three-card monte them with the new theme – very meta – there is a line of consumers waiting at the door, and who cares if they have participation or art, they have money.
    http://alexanderhirka.com/other/temporary-like-achilles-9-2013/

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I do not understand the new website. In due of the Burning Man Project being an educational 501(c)3, purposed upon educating people in regards to the Tin Principles, we were told the new website was to have the Philosophical Center, educating people in regards of the Tin Principles, front and center. What occurred?

    Solely four or five types of 501(c)3 non profit corporations are permitted, educational, in the manner of universities, art, humanitarian, religious, … Did the Burning Man Project change from a 501(c)3 purposed towards education, to a 501(c)3 purposed towards art? What does the determination letter state for the Project?

    Might the board have told Larry, f*ck you, or, perchance, the state of California? It is awesome for the Project to be changed towards a 501(c)3 purposed towards art, they must pay for the art now, and treat the awesome artists with respect.

    And, the Project board must make difficult decisions within the next few weeks. Permitting Larry, as Executive Director, and Marian, as Chief Executive Officer, to continue to be the executives whom are in control of the decisions upon the cash of the Project for 2015, while hiding the cash that is being directed towards their pockets by prior contract, is not in the manner people believe a 501(c)3, licenced by the Attorney General of the State of California, must act. It is up to the Project board to act in an ethical manner.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yawn. You turned up the hype wheel one notch too high on this one. It’s all Benny Hill in here right now and I just can’t take you seriously.

    Like

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