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Why I am not going to Burning Man this year
by Daniel Pinchbeck
I have gone to Burning Man 15 years in a row. When I went the first time, back in 2000, I was a journalist on assignment for Rolling Stone. That was an amazing introduction to the event, as I was able to go “back stage” and meet the organizers, artists, and geniuses behind the sculptures, lasers, and camps. I was immediately hooked. I couldn’t believe such a place existed – that tens of thousands of people shared the same ideals, and worked together to realize their visions.
I wrote this piece about my experiences: http://www.pinchbeck.io/…/the-fire-this-time-rolling-stone-… . I also wrote a feature about the festival for ArtForum: http://www.pinchbeck.io/…/heat-of-the-moment-the-art-and-cu…. By proposing that Burning Man had validity as an artistic expression – I discussed Joseph Beuys’ idea of “social sculpture” – I got banned from ArtForum after they published my piece. I also wrote about the festival, personally and philosophically, in Breaking Open the Head, my first book, and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, my second. Burning Man has had a profound experience on my life, in many ways.
This year, I am skipping it. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that I feel Burning Man – an institution in its own process of ongoing change and evolution – has lost its way. Hopefully, this is temporary. I know and love many of the people who create and run the festival, and believe in their intentions and their vision.
Burning Man has accomplished amazing things, opening up whole new realms of individual freedom and culture expression. At the same time the festival has become a bit of a victim of its own success. It has become a massive entertainment complex, a bit like Disney World for a contingent made up mostly of the wealthy elite. It always had this vibe, to some extent, but it seems more pronounced in recent years. It feels like there is more and more of less and less. The potential for some kind of authentic liberation or awakening seems increasingly obscure and remote.
The change in Burning Man – admittedly it is subtle – is happening as our world slides toward ecological catastrophe. The ecological crisis has become my almost monomaniacal focus recently. From my perspective, it is crucial that people awaken to what is happening to our Earth. We need to quickly understand and then start making the changes necessary to ensure the continuity of our ecosystems. Part of my enthusiasm for Burning Man was that it seemed a place where a new human community could arise – a new way of being. This potential is still there – but it seems like it has been co-opted, distorted.
At Burning Man, there was always a tension between two world views, which I would characterize as libertarian hedonism and mystical anarchism. I feel, as a result of its rapid growth and, also, as the festival has become a magnet for the wealthy elite (the Silicon Valley crowd, the media moguls and their entourages, the Ibiza crowd, etc), it has tilted too far toward libertarian hedonism. Art cars have become the new yachts, representing expressions of massively inflated egos. Wealthy camps will drop hundreds of thousands on a vehicle, then parade it around, with a velvet rope vibe. Increasingly, the culture of Burning Man feels like an offshoot of the same mindless, self-interested, nihilistic worldview and neoliberal economics that are rapidly annihilating our shared life-world.
I remember, a few years back, I stayed near a camp that had been built for the founder of Cirq du Soleil, Guy de Liberte, and his friends. The camp was empty throughout the week. There were many beautiful gypsy caravan-style tents set up, awaiting the weekend visitors from Europe and Ibiza. There were also a few Mexican workers who labored over the course of the week, building shade structures and decorating the art cars. Nobody had offered these workers a place to stay in one of the carefully shaded luxury tents, so they had pitched their small nylon tent directly in the hot sun. That image seems to sum up where Burning Man has drifted, inexorably.
We lack a moral center in our society, and we are rapidly caroming toward the abyss. It is absolutely extraordinary – in itself, miraculous – that the new Pope, Pope Francis, has shown up as one of the only people in our entire planetary culture able to speak directly to the needs of our moment – he calls for an “ecological conversion,” for shared sacrifice on the part of the wealthy elite, a new mode of empathic and compassionate action for us all. In the Encyclical, Care for Our Common Home, Francis writes:
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Is it possible that Pope Francis could rehabilitate the Catholic tradition, which seemed utterly hopeless, corrupt and antiquated, and turn it into a progressive force for good? We are going to need a number of miraculous conversions and transformations such as this one, if we are going to survive as a species, and learn to flourish together with nature, in the short time before it is too late to do anything but undergo a universal, horrific meltdown – a Chod ritual, on a planetary scale.
As I wrote in my books, I believe Burning Man represents an organic expression of something innate to human being-ness: We need initiatory experiences – centers where non-ordinary states of consciousness can be explored and, also, interpreted, with a shared context for understanding and integration. Emerging from the psychedelic culture of the Bay Area, Burning Man is, to a certain extent, a postmodern reinvention of centers of Mystery School wisdom, like Eleusis, which the artists, philosophers, and leaders of the Classical World visited each year. However, at this point, it lacks a deeper awareness of its own value and purpose. Without this, it is in danger of becoming another appendage of the military-industrial-entertainment complex – another distraction factory.
I find that many people I know are living on the razor-edge of nihilism right now, skating the edge of the Void. In my own life, I have lived through the eruption and the projection of my own shadow material – and I see many people undergoing their own versions of this, in different areas of their lives. I can’t help but see this as a perfectly appropriate and even necessary part of a process that could lead to our apotheosis as a species (the birth of the Ubermench, who according to Nietzsche, represents the fusion of “the mind of Caesar” with “the soul of Christ”) or our collective dissolution. It is exciting that this process seems to be happening within our current lifespans.
The infusion of Eastern metaphysics into the Western worldview is not necessarily helping, and it may actually be exacerbating our current crisis of values. The popular Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn has recently noted that, within 100 years, the human race may go extinct. His perspective is accurate, according to scientific predictions. He notes, with an accelerated warming cycle like the one that caused the Permian Mass Extinction, 250 million years ago, “another 95 per cent of species will die out, including Homo sapiens. That is why we have to learn to touch eternity with our in breath and out breath. Extinction of species has happened several times. Mass extinction has already happened five times and this one is the sixth. According to the Buddhist tradition there is no birth and no death. After extinction things will reappear in other forms, so you have to breathe very deeply in order to acknowledge the fact that we humans may disappear in just 100 years on earth.”
There is a kind of fatalism to Buddhist thought that doesn’t mesh with our Western approach to reality. Personally, I find myself resonating far more deeply with the Pope’s call for a new spiritual mission that unifies humanity behind protecting life and nature, than I do with Hahn’s view, although I recognize the validity of his statement. Ultimately, there is only the white light of the Void, which certain psychedelic experiences – particularly 5-meo-DMT – experientially confirm. However, there are many other dimensions of being and levels of consciousness we can know and experience. We also possess creative, empathic, and imaginative capacities, which seem be a divine power and dispensation. I think it would be truly amazing if we chose to make use of our deepest abilities to reverse the current direction of our society – to confront the ecological mega-crisis as a true initiation, and offer ourselves as vessels of this transformation.
In order to accomplish this, we would need to overcome our desire for spectacular distraction and insatiable consumption. Burning Man has always drawn its imaginative power from the paradoxes which are essential to it. A huge amount of money, energy, time, and fossil fuel is expended to create conditions which are difficult and force people (except for those wealthy enough to have air-tight sanctuaries built for them) to undergo a certain level of inner confrontation. I think we could further generalize from this, realizing that difficult and uncomfortable conditions are, in fact, necessary for our own development.
I will wrap this up, for now. The main point is there are many crucial lessons to learn from Burning Man: In many ways, it reveals our innate capacities to build a new society, a redesigned society, based on creativity, community, inspiration, and compassion. At the same time, Burning Man has become another spectacle – another cultural phenomenon, in a sense, a cult – and one that sucks a huge amount of energy and time from people who could re-focus their talents and genius on what we must do to escape ecological collapse (building a resilient or regenerative society). The organization, itself, needs to undergo another level of self-analysis and transformation – much like the Catholic Church appears to be doing, under Pope Francis’ lead.
In order to survive what’s coming, we must find a way to awaken a new spiritual impulse in the human community, beginning with our cultural, technocratic, and financial elites. And we don’t have time to waste.
(If you find this essay to be valuable, please contribute a small monthly amount so I can continue my work:https://www.patreon.com/danielpinchbeck )
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Informative discussion – For my two cents , if someone requires a IRS 990 , my colleagues filled out and esigned a template version here “http://goo.gl/5o0JRQ“.
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I’ve never particularly liked Daniel Pinchbeck, but this article has endeared to me.
Congratulations Mr Pinchbeck on getting your head out of your ass and quitting the cult of the self-absorbed. The rest of the world does not give a f.u.c.k about a minority of artsy, delusional, drugged up ravers.
Saving the world?! Gee, if you can just save yourself, that would be an accomplishment.
Xanadu, give it a rest. Your obsession with Pinchbeck is taking a stalking turn. We get it. He ejected you from some jerk-circle (or is that a circle-jerk?) Get over it… You are a much better writer anyway
Lola I say this with as much hate as possible. The world does not give a fuck about you either. What do you mean save themselves? So they can become like you? HA! all this hatred, for what? Is your own life that tragic you have to share on to others? It’s easy to type hate like this behind a keyboard. I hope it makes you feel better I really do cause it seems like you don’t get much happiness anywhere else.
Have a fab day Lola!
This is a conflict between two religions. Economists and the 10 Principles. Burning Man contradicted economic dogma so economists were sent to take over the event and bring it into the fold, so to speak.
The only thing you can do is recreate Burning Man as another event. Economists will try to take over that event too but this time you need to stop them.
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Hello- the debate that is ongoing below is detracting from y’all’s time and ability to work on saving the planet. Money is a figment, the more people spend time on it the less time they have for other things. I’ve never been to burning man but would still like to go. Never been a real good verbatim debater so I’m not going to attempt to keep up. Enjoyed your read, good perspective. If you ever make it up to Alaska feel free to stop in.
Be sure to read the comments. Not to worry, like this post, many could not finish the tome.
Where is the article where you try to ‘finish the tome?’ I’d love to read it.
It’s Pooh’s post above:
“Why I AM going to Burning Man this year. (It has nothing to do with Burning Man)”
No. If you think this one failed, I’m interested if YOU wrote that is perfect? If so could you point us to it?
When did this become an essay contest? But yes, I write much clearer than the wandering prose used by either of these guys, but not about why/why not to go to the NV burn while contemplating my navel. I stick to referring to objective facts tied to recognized references. But then again, that’s why they pay me the big bucks IRL.
If you want to pre-pay my hourly rate, I will expound on the topic of your choice.
Expecting any kind of radical shift in BMORG culture is like waiting on statues to flex. They will talk about “cultural values” and the projects that support them, all day long, all night long, but when it comes down to it, it’s the same old handful of ruling-by-divine-right-of-kings royalty at the top who determine all those values and make all the big decisions.
As everyone should be well aware of by now, the board members cashed out on the LLC transition. Somewhere on the net there is actually a full cartoon that perfectly illustrates what they did. And what they did was absolutely legal: They put your ticket money in the satin pockets of their dusty trousers, and still sit on the Iron Throne, essentially becoming the pimps of Westeros, but it’s not like they’re ungrateful, they send out thank you cards once a year, and doesn’t make you feel better?
Now consider this, they moved into a non-profit corporation, an entity that depends on fundraising from “billionaires,” the same top-hat-rough-and-readies that are in the P2Ps. So, do you really, seriously think, they’re going to tell those people anything other than you can have your cake and eat it to?
BMORG is very adept at smoothing over scandals, and really, their formula is very simple: A.) Give it time to die down, B.) Control the conversation: Own the talking points and thereby, the range of questions that can be asked, C.) With control in place, talk everything to death until no one cares. D.) Spread misinformation through inside channels. It’s a Machiavellian wet dream.
Really if you want BMORG to actually listen to the participants, you need two things, the mainstream press (which they coddle relentlessly (so good luck unsticking those flies from the honey), and two, you need to protest (at the event) (year round) and in large numbers to demand that the board be elected by the participants yearly, and that no board member may run for re-election ever, because if they can be re-elected, you’ll be leaving a mile wide incentive for them to ballot-stuff the electoral process, and worse, grant them the veneer of democratic approval, so that they can control Westeros forever and Ned Stark any opposition to “their values.”
Truly excellent observations and recommendations.
Great comment . Would love a link to that cartoon if anyone can find it.
Ummm…how do I put this…ummm…BULLSHIT!!!!. The founders “cashed out” to the tune of…I think…$46K and gifted back $1.2 million they were entitled to. This is just a reiteration of the “Big Lie” propagated by Burners.me.
Then why are the numbers you cite not clearly shown in the financials? …But if they are, how about a link… A link to financial reports – P&L, I&E, A&L – not some narrative with some numbers.
Wait…you have records that show they cashed out for more. Please post right away.
Since the BOrg have carefully hidden their “well-lighted suite of rooms,” this is the best estimate from the data available:
So what did they tell you when you called them and asked for the raw numbers?
Nomad, that estimate is too big, I apologised in regards of it. We are to know more in regards of their cashout, and conflicts of interests when the 2014 990 form of the Burning Man Project halts being hidden from donors of cash, stock, art, labour, and entertainment towards their ticket buyers.
This, again, is my prior answer to Pooh Bear in regards of his false statements.
Larry Harvey, talking to the New York Times within 2011, ‘about the changes ahead for the Burner Community:’
‘We’re going to treat Burning Man like what it always should have been: not as a commodity, but as a gift,” Mr. Harvey said, explaining the festival’s multiyear transition strategy during an April 1 speech in San Francisco. Before handing Burning Man over to the new nonprofit, he added, the company’s owners will take an undisclosed payout. And this is where things get complicated’
What proof might we have in regards of their ‘undisclosed’ payout? As Pooh Bear knows, but he insists upon repeating his false statements numerous times-
2010- payroll raised from $2.8 million to $7.2 million, with solely 30 employees within 2012 January to move to their Market Street headquarters, as stated within the sfpublicpress, and paying little towards temporary labourers, leaves more than $4 million, of payroll, to be paid towards the 6 members of the BMOrg. This is an awesome spreadsheet upon this matter.
2011 – payroll was $7.1 million, and pay to contractors raised by near to $1 million dollars, with solely 40 people to pay within the beginning of 2012, and paying little towards temporary labourers, leaves near to $4 million, of payroll, to be paid towards the 6 members of the BMOrg.
2012 – payroll raised to $7.8 million, leaves near to $4 million, of payroll, to be paid towards the 6 members of the BMOrg.
2013 … payroll, in addendum of ‘the company’s owners will take an undisclosed payout’
end of 2013 – $7.1 million deduction upon tax levies for their donation
2014 – 2018 – Reasonable salaries in due of their positions within the 501(c)3, perchance near to $1 million of each year of total, in addendum of unknown cash from licence of the images of Burning Man, and of the art at Burning Man, perchance from movies in the manner of Spark: A Burning Man Story, and others.
2018 – they are, at present, within contract, to sell the Burning Man(TM) name, and other trademarks, to the Project, and take a deduction upon tax levies for the remains of the value of the trademarks. In addendum, stated within the 2014 ticket terms, Decommodification LLC, owned by the 6 members of the BMOrg, owns the IP of Burning Man.
This is solely of what they disclosed towards the Burner community. What cash might they taken towards their pockets that was not disclosed towards the Burner community?
The undisclosed amount has been disclosed…it was $42K. You are right, they were entitled to millions and took $42K.
Another day, another lie by Pooh.
And here http://blog.burningman.com/2015/01/news/burning-mans-nonprofit-financial-information-released/
And here is an analysis of that:
noun: speculation; plural noun: speculations
the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.
“there has been widespread speculation that he plans to quit”
2. what is left when information is withheld.
What information is being withheld?
2014 IRS Form 990. 2014 Financial Chart from Afterburn Report.
The 2014 Form 990, as well as clear audited statements for Assets and Liability, Profit and Loss, and Income and Expenses for 2013 and 2014, if not 2012 and before reaching back 10 years.
For me, I need a consistent category accounting for the increase in overhead from less than $1 million in 2005 to over $20 million in 2014. This is what any business person would want to see when a operation’s attendance goes up by a factor of two, revenues go up by a factor of four, and overhead (and profit) go up by a factor of ten.
I’m going to file an FOI request for it then.
FOI requests only work for records held by the government has. It cannot compel others to provide information.
Not FOIA request needed, apparently. Non-profits are required by law to provide a copy of their Form 990 on request, so I just sent the BMORG a request for such. Burnersxxx, have you not done the same already?
ask ’em for the rest of the financials while you’re at it – Pooh insists that it won’t be a problem, and surely their auditors are done with the books by now.
You’ve never asked? Really? I’m not guaranteeing my request will be answered, but it took me about 5 minutes to do it. It would’ve REALLY helped your argument in all these posts over the past 11 months if you could’ve said you tried to get this information but were denied.
You don’t need an FOI for the Form 990 for the non-profit. They have just not filed the 2014 990 – they are on extension until Nov or Dec. ABP is keeping on top of all this. Just read his posts and updates from the links I posted.
What you will NOT get are the typical P&L, I&E and A&L statements I asked for – things any business person would expect. As ABP found when he tried to decypher the 2013 Form 990, they have hidden the important details in the single line numbers required on the 990.
JV, the BMOrg requested a 6 month delay in the sending of the 2014 990 form of the Project to the U.S. IRS, they are to send it within 2015 November, and publish it within 2016 January. Other 501(c)3 corporations, in addendum, publish their Consolidated Financial Statement. As an example in regards of this, view the Playa de Fuego 501(c)3 website, other regionals whom are a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation, or, perchance, this website.
The Project board is of the ability to vote to require of the BMOrg to publish this, it is most desired of them to vote to do so, and halt hiding this information, including of details of conflicts of interests, from donors of cash, stock, art, labour, and entertainment towards their ticket buyers.
Ah OK. Well, that is too bad they haven’t released it, it’s certainly not doing their PR any good. I’m sure I’ll read about it here when it is released. Will be interesting to see how it plays out.
JV…your belief that any amount of evidence would change the mind of Nomad or Burnersxxx is touching. I think if the financials came out of a burning bush these guys would complain about “what haven’t we seen”. It’s a great argument because you can always extend it. No matter what is let out there is always the possibilty something was kept back. These guys want something more than even the IRS demands. I’m betting one of the line items will have to be “doing pointless paperwork for paranoid former burners”.
Pooh, seems you already think all things BOrg come from that bush. That’s the difference. I would not believe the numbers from a burning bush unless they showed adequate details.
Recently, I helped a friend find a new executive position. Asking for the A&L statement usually proved quite interesting. One offer was based on the value of the company after my friend came on as president. Very amusing. Once you see the numbers, with adequate breakdowns, the story is there. I’ll bet you don’t like Shark Tank – my favorite program. I have served on some VC presentation critique panels. If you get some good answers, you can get a good picture. But by the same token, the unanswered questions tell the biggest story.
My nephew actually works on the Shark Tank spin off. So again, what did they say when you asked for the numbers?
What does your nephew think of the BMP filings and ABP’s critique? Absent his informed comment, being related to him is utterly irrelevant and speaks to your lack of logical reasoning. (Hey, I used to work with Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News, so you should respect my authoritah!!!)
A “public benefit” corporation should seek to be clear as to their finances. The BOrg are not. As one lady with a gifting agency commented on that philanthropy.com post, she would not give them any money. (Funny, but the comments on that article no longer seem to work… https://philanthropy.com/article/Opinion-Burning-Man-Becomes/227895#comments-anchor )
A list of major BMP contributors, coordinated against commercial burn interests, would be most interesting.
So you don’t ask and you don’t know. When you ask and get rejected, I’ll listen to further arguments.
There are zero documents supporting the narrative that Larry & Co. cashed out for a fortune, and a few documents that support the narrative that they cashed out for 46K while giving back 1.2 mil. People can choose which one they want to believe, but it’s pretty clear which narrative is actually supported by evidence.
Personally, I couldn’t care less whether Larry & Co. grabbed the loot or not. People have cashed out for MUCH more for doing MUCH less. But the thing is, all evidence points to them NOT cashing out, aside from a modest lump sum of 46K. So I second Pooh’s call for documents or other evidence showing that Larry & Co. took more than 46K.
You are right that years after the transaction, the details are still incredibly murky.
The main detail is, all of the assets of the business – particularly the brand and royalty streams – were transferred into other private companies controlled by the Founders. What the terms of those various deals were is a complete mystery. All we know for sure is that the Burning Man Project does pay royalties to this company. There are very likely to be other revenue streams too.
We’ve been told it’s all “coming soon”, like the rest of the transparency, for several years now – and that we’ll have to wait several more to find out.
If there’s nothing to hide, why hide almost everything?
Since the BoD and articles of incorporation of the BMP 501(c)3 are so un-non-profit, the Larry LLCabal hold onto the IP rights allowing any single member of the LLCabal veto the scheduled transfer. That means that if the BMP does not go as planned, perhaps from changes imposed by the CA AG, they can take their ball (“Burning Man”), and go home – or to another game they create. It is their guarantee.
If they were honest about it, that would be one thing. But they know honesty runs the risk of spoiling the image that the grape Flavor-Aide drinkers need to keep making the stone soup for free, the soup they charge them for by the bowl.
Where is the evidence they are being dishonest about it? The fact that it doesn’t jibe the with narrative you’ve constructed in your head? Seriously.
Hey, why don’t I rewrite three years of evidence for you, so it’s more convenient for you to find than all the other posts I put it in.
I just use that “Search” thingy in the upper right corner. Works pretty good.
noun: speculation; plural noun: speculations
the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.
“there has been widespread speculation that he plans to quit”
He’s never posted evidence because he’s never asked for evidence. Evidence would just get in the way of the spin.
says the spinner!
You haven’t posted any evidence, you’ve posted interpretation of existing documents and speculation on what you perceive to be missing from those documents. There is literally no evidence to support your thesis that the BMORG founders cashed out in a big way. There is evidence (legal documents) that they received 42K each. You’ve yet to petition under the FOI Act for these supposed missing documents. I don’t know man, it’s hard to buy your case if you don’t already have a grudge with the BMORG.
Yes, and that financial picture was carefully crafted by the lawyers and the BOrg spending four times as much for them as for art. The plain truth is not that expensive.
We can’t trust this legal document because legal professionals (i.e.: “lawyers”) drafted it? That’s your argument?
Not at all. Read my comment.
“Yes, and that financial picture was carefully crafted by the lawyers and the BOrg spending four times as much for them as for art.”
All (or a significant portion) of the legal budget went to crafting these documents? Evidence for that?
“The plain truth is not that expensive.”
You’re right. How much of the BMORG’s legal budget went to writing the financial documents?
Your comment is saying that BMORG spent millions in legal fees to draft financial documents with the purpose of obfuscating information.
Since we are unlikely to see the billings, and there is no guarantee the billings would be specific, what have they been doing for $4 million a year for the past few years? …Keep in mind that we get a quite detailed accounting of the less than $1 million a year they spend on art grants.
Once again humans obsessive need to be right, to put others down, to defend there own position. does any of that actually address the core issue of learning to live in a world that IS a gifting economy where All of the Earths People are clothed, fed, housed, transported, given healthcare, education, and the ability to work on any solution you are inspired to.
Yes it seems partying with pyrotechnics, bright lights, loud sound and oh we can’t forget lots of psychedelic substances has become the platform for what is supposed to convince us that all humans are created equal and every person being that they have eyes, ears, nose and mouth have the right to a high standard of living.
The great lingering problem of language and opinions. In the future we will have to adapt a language that is not subject to interoperation. A language dedicated to problem solving where everyone gets the same results and emotionalized viewpoints no longer carry the weight.
If the world does begin to deteriorate with rising sea levels, lower crop yield and increased air pollution you’d better believe our resources are going to be dedicated to those millions of people that need new places to live, be clothed, fed, educated, working, transported etc etc Not tripping in the desert on light up art work.
Humans do not know what they do not know. We each go out and attempt to make the best of this nightmare and yes Burning Man is revolutionary and has been for years and still is but just like we’ve out grown the outdated Monetary system perhaps the author is suggesting Burning Man has out grown some of its policies. One’s that used to work magically that now with the principle the only constant is change has to re-evaluate with the global crises of 1.2 billion starving to death, 2.2 million incarcerated in the US alone, average household income of $50k for a family of 4. The real problems are awaiting us right here and coming back wasted from a week of partying to the day job most people go to so they can pay the mortgage and credit card debt doesn’t bring forth the sharing and gifting economy that was envisioned by founding people of BM.
beyond politics, poverty and war –> http://www.theVenusProject.com
“…you’d better believe our resources are going to be dedicated to those millions of people that need new places to live, be clothed, fed, educated, working, transported etc etc…”
Unless you are talking about the 1%, I hope you realize that we are already not doing that. We already have millions of people that need new places to live, be clothed, fed, educated, working, transported, etc. That is why what we do now, today, indicates where we are headed. We have 8 billion people on a planet that will support 3 billion at best; the difference is made up from depleting non-renewable resources, all not considering surviving the eco-toxins generated.
And for those that don’t believe in these climate problems, I would be glad to sell you some beachfront property in the Maldives, or North Carolina.
Prophets Of Doom (2011) Full Documentary – History Channel…
I was surprised to realize this article wasn’t a parody. Other than justifiably pulling at your eco heart strings and being moderately erudite, the author’s confused his personal apathy with what’s actually occurring on the playa (a very common refrain summed up by the wiser amongst us when saying, “it was better last year”). Burning Man is no less potent and inspiring than it’s ever been (TM). In fact, the scale and impact has simply grown and is slowly filtering into the default world. The fact that turnkey camps exist presents an opportunity to spread BM princicples to a larger audiance (I know that’s scary poor baby, you just hate it when your favorite band becomes mainstream, but it’ll be OK, I promise). BMORG could definitely do a lot more to guide the comunity to “protect life and nature”, however I’d argue per capita, Burners have done more to protect the planet than Catholics have, or are ever likely to (putting aside eco terrorism events like Crude Awakening and the like). To avoid extinction, we need to support and nurture communities like Burning Man. Communities that teach us how to love, serve and give to each other, to work through fear, and to come face to face with our mortality. We need to build icons that we can “burn” so we can clear out the archaic and the destructive phychic legacies of religious institutions like the Catholic church (and not hold them up as examples for Christ’s sake). Perhaps it’s the author’s 15 years of crusty-playa-party-regret that’s actually leading him to seek the penance of skipping BM. He’d be better off building an alter to his ego . . . and burning it at sunrise near the trash fence.
“In fact, the scale and impact has simply grown and is slowly filtering into the default world. The fact that turnkey camps exist presents an opportunity to spread BM princicples to a larger audiance…”
Good PR talking point to give cover to the CCamps. But for many of us we can’t see a CCamp as being the same as a burner’s radical self-reliance. Trust me, all of us have stayed at 4-star hotels, some of us at 5-star hotels (that bring you ice to your room in Cancun because the water – and ice made from that water – is not safe to drink). We know the CCamp experience, and it is deeply and fundamentally different than finding out who you are with a week’s supply of water and non-perishable food.
“… I’d argue per capita, Burners have done more to protect the planet than Catholics have, or are ever likely to..”
That’s known as a canard, a straw dog, an argument that misleads the discussion, as if the Catholics were the alternative to the NV burn.
“We need to build icons that we can “burn” so we can clear out the archaic and the destructive phychic legacies of religious institutions like…”
…the BOrg’s calcified bureaucratic management of the NV burn. Sure, rebirth is the whole idea, but doing the same thing at the same place at the same time is NOT rebirth or rediscovery. It is doing the same thing so that the annual $20 million of additional overhead don’t have to work as hard as they did 10 years ago (when they did not exist) when the attendance was half of what it is now. …Yeah, I know, you tried to drag the Catholic Church back into the argument, but I was going for a rebirth of thinking. 🙂
“That’s known as a canard, a straw dog, an argument that misleads the discussion, as if the Catholics were the alternative to the NV burn.”
Um well, it wasn’t I who lauded the historically world-raping Pope’s a-huge-bit-too-late-to-the-party words as something we should all now look to for guidance (mind you, his new words are indeed sweet, but coming from the Catholic church at large, it reads like an Onion article). The weight of history should steer us well away from those waters (if not not common sense and an homage to centuries of devastated peoples). Next time when hoping to inspire, better to reference more proven guides like Jesus, Buddha, King, Gandhi, Mother Theresa, McKenna, or some such. It’s a bit premature to turn the clocks back to the dark ages and look to the monks for hope. A bit of a reverse hail-marry “straw-man-dog”, no?
“Sure, rebirth is the whole idea, but doing the same thing at the same place at the same time is NOT rebirth or rediscovery.”
Again with that tired-old-jaded burner gig! My compassionate friend, just because BM is no longer new and inspiring *for you personally*, doesn’t mean it isn’t for tens of thousands of others. As the founder of two major theme camps (most definitely *not* concierge camps, OMG, ick), and a burner since 1999, I regret to inform you that you have fallen into the all too common “too cool for school theme-camp” (people are so boring to chat with in that dome). Seriously, take that ego out into the dusty-dust, burn it, and help the accusatorially entrenched BMORG and the newly inspired virgins to realize their greatness (or a least feed them bacon the morning after the ego burn). You’re the one with the wisdom and experience, you have the power to make a difference! If you want rebirth, first you gotta make it personal.
Hey Dru, persistence points for doubling down on the Pope canard. And with the ad hominem arguments to excise me with the “tired-old-jaded burner gig” and *for you personally*, I am sure the Larry LLCabal are pleased.
But even the casual reader would notice you entirely side-stepped your promotion of the CCamps and their blatant disregard for the Tin Principles, using Radical Inclusion of them to exercise Radical Exclusion of burners without wristbands.
So as long as most people think the NV burn is for the cool kids, with first-class accommodations if you don’t want to socialize with the peasants, then the tickets will still sell, and you can migrate the virgins to the new default world burn philosophy. Years ago I stopped telling people I went to “Burning Man” because the NV burn has become so ethically corrupted.
But the most important thing is to get those Tin Principles out of the BMP articles of incorporation. You could get a nasty lawsuit that would defeat all those NDAs you have on file.
Don’t you worry about those of us that were not invited to your party. We have already found new homes for our theme camps, MVs and art. This Pinchback character is just on the slow bus.
“you entirely side-stepped your promotion of the CCamps”
Hold up there cowboy, talk about building a straw man. Let me put this to bed right off, *I deplore these plug-and-play camps with every ounce of alkali soul*. Though I understand, it’s easier to rush past the subtly and hope of my words and make me out to be the poster boy for the bad guys. Let me be clear, my contributions to BM (Hookahdome, Winking Lotus, and most recently Kidsville), are 180° opposite of commodification camps. Every ounce of our efforts have been in humble service to the people (all people), we’ve embodied decommodification, radical inclusion, expression, self-reliance, gifting, communal effort, civic responsibility, leave-no-trace and immediacy in the deepest and most sincere of ways (and always, always at a significant financial loss). Also, I’ve never worked for BMOrg and have no relationships with anybody in or surrounding it. So I hope we’re past that nonsense and can burn that straw man.
If you believe those illuminati controlled BMOrg evildoers, in 2014 turnkey camps represented only 1% of the overall theme camp population (and a small, small fraction of the total BM population). We are the 99% my brother, we rule BRC, and yes, I include BMOrg in the 99%. I applaud BMOrg’s efforts to control the blight of commodification camps. Call me a lemming, but I *actually* do believe BMOrg is working to address a very challenging problem (perhaps my tinfoil hat isn’t working properly). If you can read this http://goo.gl/8El9bU, and this http://goo.gl/AYZCPh, and this http://goo.gl/EFjRa0, and watch this http://goo.gl/59PJbz, and still and not believe that BMOrg is against CCamps and *is* actually changing in response to community feedback, then I think you believe a little bit too in tinfoil hats yourself.
“Don’t you worry about those of us that were not invited to your party.”
You’ve been invited to “our party” for last 15 years my fellow burner. However, you’ve understandably become disillusioned by an imperfect system, run by imperfect people, that struggles to apply fallible principles. Yes indeed, that’s bit of an existential crisis for you. Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of second, third, and fourth year burners out there, wholly inspired and on fire, building a city unlike any ever seen on this planet. In a handful years, they too will post articles like yours, all of which can be summarized by saying, “it was better last year.”
“Hold up there cowboy, talk about building a straw man… So I hope we’re past that nonsense and can burn that straw man.”
Doing good things in BRC has nothing to do with your defense of the CCamps; one does not disprove the other. Both are part of your enfranchisement into the BOrg’s NPD cult.
“If you believe those illuminati controlled BMOrg evildoers, in 2014 turnkey camps represented only 1% of the overall theme camp population (and a small, small fraction of the total BM population). … then I think you believe a little bit too in tinfoil hats yourself.”
The proof is in the event; no conspiracy required. As I suggested, the claims that no CCamps were paced this year can be proved by following the traffic from the airport. Look at the moop map in September. The BOrg could prevent CCamps if they wanted, but you are promoting their facade that it is a struggle. The struggle is between the truth and the perception they want to promote to keep the free stone soup flowing to fund their $20 million annual overhead for a $10 million event.
As for the 1% (nice choice!) of CCamps, would it rise to the level of a problem when they were 51%? How much of BRC should be closed to burners and the Tin Principles? Can we have a Bike Fence Camp, where you can fence the bike you grabbed, and victims can come to buy a replacement?… Hey, radical inclusion!! What’s worse, stealing my bike or stealing my gift to burners who actually believe in gifting. I am happiest when I am gifting at my theme camp, but that is spoiled when there are spectators who just want to watch; the worst is having spectators who feel they have bought their seat to the show as their right to be there.
“You’ve been invited to “our party” for last 15 years my fellow burner.”
Nope. I checked my email inbox – the same one I used to get tkt receipts before. No ticket-buying codes the past years. And so, no chance to, in confidence, do our theme camp, because only the big guys get DS tix. In fact, the small camps, with the personal interaction, is the most valuable experience, as well illustrated by what you can do in a panel truck at Night Market. The little theme camps – which have always been my favorites – have been eclipsed by the BOrg’s choice of who gets to come.
Dru…I so admire and agree with your perspective and would love to have a beer on playa. I appreciate your approaching Nomad with respect, logic, and actual history, I don’t want you to get frustrated. Nomad is like a climate change denier. Facts mean nothing. He knows what he knows and that is all he can hear.
What a bunch of bullshit. The default world has penetrated BM to the heart and there is no longer a distinction or difference between the two. To claim otherwise is, in my opinion, willful and deliberate ignorance.
I’m by no means a fan of the Catholic church but making claims without any substantiation whatsoever that only serve the egos of true believers shows a level of desperation. I might as well say ‘BM keeps getting bigger and the world situation keeps getting worse’ and claim there is a correlation between the two. That’s the kind of lunacy this bozo is promoting.
This piece of nonsense sounds to me like the official Bmorg response or that of people whose ego is dependent upon telling everybody they go the once wild and wooly BM, gosh aren’t I special!.
Don’t worry ‘Dru’ more people will come to this ‘world saving’ event, and an era of peace and infinite prosperity will spread across the earth. Poverty and unhappiness will be banished and a new Golden Age will be ushered in thanks to the wisdom of BM and its attendees.
Isn’t that the mindset of a fanatic?
“The default world has penetrated BM to the heart and there is no longer a distinction or difference between the two. To claim otherwise is, in my opinion, willful and deliberate ignorance.”
Well, once BRC has a Walmart and a Starbucks, perhaps I’ll agree with you. Geesh.
You can already buy tents and coffee there. Does it only count when there is a trade name involved?
PS – The coffee is a gift (“free”) at Transformus. Then again, all management is volunteer, they don’t charge as much today as the BOrg did 10 years ago, and burner participation usually involves specific volunteer shifts*, even for virgins …so I guess it’s just not the same as the NV burn, is it?
“The default world has penetrated BM to the heart and there is no longer a distinction or difference between the two.”
That sounds amazing, Chuck! Where do you live, I wanna move there. The revolution has begun!!!
So… I won’t be seeing you in the orgy dome this year? If my tryptamine eyez remember correctly you didn’t seem to be having any of these concerns last year.
Not sue, but I think Pope Francis will be taking his place in the dome. BTW, don’t tell the people from Philly – they don’t know and might be pissed.
“The organization, itself, needs to undergo another level of self-analysis and transformation – much like the Catholic Church appears to be doing, under Pope Francis’ lead.”
The Catholic Church is not undergoing self-analysis and transformation – it only “appears to be.” The Catholic Church and its cuddly celebrity face is only following the advice of their Fox News PR man, Greg Burke, and spewing a populist vibe in order to soften their image and attract the younger generation, jumpstart favorability ratings and, most importantly, to improve cash flow from the Americas after the disastrous performances of its previous Popes, and to distract gullible proles from its ridiculously outmoded metaphysics and policies. And it is working… The numbers are up. But no policy of any consequence has changed. The Church is only now getting around to apologizing for its behavior in the Americas. How many hundreds of years will it be before it apologizes for its ongoing genocidal policies that have left millions dead in Africa in the past few decades where the only information available to villagers is from missionaries who preach condom use is more dangerous that AIDS? “…self-analysis and transformation,” my ass.
“The new sexist, nun-hating, poverty-perpetuating, pedophile-protecting homophobe is the same as the old sexist, nun-hating, poverty-perpetuating, pedophile-protecting homophobe, but gosh how the media loves him…” Anna March, The Weeklings.
Great comment. And let’s address the fact that this Pope is a Jesuit. They’re not supposed to be Pope. They have their own “black Pope”. Jesuits were banned about the time the Illuminati was founded (by a Jesuit).
OK, I am confused. If the Catholic Church HAS changed am I supposed to go the NV burn; or, am I supposed to go if the Church has NOT changed? Maybe some diagrams would help, hopefully including The Illuminati stuff, and some unobtrusive ads.
BTW ^^^ that was comment #100.
“… In many ways, it, Burning Man, reveals our innate capacities to build a new society, a redesigned society, based on creativity, community, inspiration, and compassion. At the same time, Burning Man has become another spectacle – another cultural phenomenon, in a sense, a cult … The organization, itself, needs to undergo another level of self-analysis and transformation – much like the Catholic Church appears to be doing, under Pope Francis’ lead.”
The Catholic Church is doing self-analysis and transformation, but, it is a big ship to steer towards a new direction, Burning Man needs to be undergo another level of self-analysis and transformation, in despite of Larry, and Marian, desire to have near to total top down control over the bottoms up created event and Community. Burning Man is a small ship to steer towards a new direction, most especially in comparison towards the huge Catholic Church.
It is easy-peasy to start to steer Burning Man towards a new direction, towards the founding principle of ‘No Spectators. Participants only.’ The Burning Man Project bylaws are to be changed prior to the end of 2015. The other 4 founders of the Burning Man Project, and the 17 member Project board might pen, and vote upon, new bylaws that show true Gratitude towards the the awesome artists, and towards the numerous contributing Burners, and respect the awesome Burner Community, within their actions, not solely within rubbish words, and permit the Project board, and the awesome Burner community, to have a big voice in the direction of Burning Man, and the new bylaws must be purposed to build the Community, in the place of replacing the Community.
Might the Project board discuss the proper manner of changing the Project bylaws, on the playa, purposed for the benefit of the Burning Man Project? In addendum, of while they are on the playa, might the Project board vote to send the 2014 990 form to the U.S. government and publish the 2014 990 form, including of details of conflicts of interests? In addendum, it is most desired might the Project board vote to publish the 2014 Consolidated Financial statement, and the ledger of revenues and costs of the 2014 burn, in the manner of numerous other 501(c)3 corporations, and of the regionals 501(c)3 corporations, in place of hiding this information from donors of cash, stock, art, labour, and entertainment towards their ticket buyers..
But lest we forget…. http://burners.me/2015/02/06/the-1-all-a-board/
+++ , I believe Burning Man represents an organic expression of something innate to human being-ness +++
There’s your problem.
Same goes for the NV burn and the BOrg….
Well said, Daniel. And may I say, most of the negative comments are painfully ironic demonstrations of the kind of narcissistic drivel that has tainted the festival. I guess that’s the elegance of narcissism. It is structurally incapable of denying itself.
You’ve written books? I find that hard to believe. I just wanted to say to anyone whose curious that the two-dimensional characterizations of Buddhism and ‘Thich Nhat Hanh’s worldview’ are about as accurate as most of my freshman students who show up to Buddhism 101 with a bunch of misconceptions. If you take any particular dharma teaching out for analysis without the broader context, you run the risk of sounding like a fool like Pinchbeck. Nobody should go to Burning Man anymore, it hasn’t been productive or relevant for decades, it will only ever be a place to go Burn-out, Man
Are you familiar with the critique of Buddhism and other eastern philosophies in ‘The Guru Papers’. I would presume not. Doesn’t paint a pretty picture and is one I suspect most Buddhist adherents would rather not be aware of.
I find it somewhat amusing and hypocritical that so many self proclaimed Buddhists are unfamiliar with the teaching that everything is impermanent. Things change, erode, and disintegrate. That in my opinion has happened to that most holy of events-BM. It’s fame and notoriety attracted the parasites that dominate our society and have irrevocably changed it,and not for the better.
I suppose Pinchbeck is a fool for having a opinion different than yours? How very tolerant.
I was all prepared not to like this article, I figured you were just going to give a laundry list of complaints, but I agree with (just about) everything that you said! But I don’t think the entire weight of the climate crisis should be pinned on burning man. That’s just silly. Most burners recognize that we need to mobilize society to act more responsibly and in a way that will sustain human life on earth, and if they don’t yet, I’m sure they will after a few years of hauling their own garbage in and out of the event will start to make them think along those lines. I also believe that volunteering at the event is the natural next step for any long time burner. It’s important for there to be a safe infrastructure in place so that the newer burners have a safe place to have their own life changing experiences. This year will be my 10th year on the playa 😀 and I’ve seen a lot of wonderful positive ideas come out of the event and materialize in the “default” world — Burners Without Borders & Black Rock Solar — to name a few obvious ones. Seeing burning man as a blockage to solutions for climate change is not productive or useful, instead we should be thinking of ways to use burning man as a conduit for the kind of lasting world wide change that would stave off climate change.
I’d love to invite the author to take part in the regionals this year instead. The only way the burning spirit can survive is if it is not only accessible to a few. Smaller community, more participations, that awe-inspiring sense of growth as fantastic new people join your family. Burning Man changed my life, but Nowhere is my home.
I agree, except for the use of the term “the regionals.” This implies a subservient relationship to the NV burn and the BOrg, and that such events can be found on the burningman.org web site. I suggest the term “other burns” or “alternative burns.” This will open up many more possibilities, particularly those who would choose not to follow the poor choices and poor management of the BOrg. Some examples of the many are http://www.figmentproject.org/, http://losthorizonnightmarket.com/, and http://www.burntsouptx.com/.
You will note that they typically will emphasize volunteering with a very open and structured volunteer plan. This openness is not found at burningman.org because being a volunteer is part of the inner circle of the cult, and serves a very different purpose at the NV burn. At the alternative burns, volunteering is a great way to get involved and meet new people, particularly choosing a variety of tasks so it does not become your day job.
And as Figment always says, “What are you bringing?”
I got smart thoughts. Give me money so I can think them without working. Oh, yeah, Let’s be concerned about the poor. Maybe you could give them some money too, even if they don’t have a computer to write their smart thoughts down. I need mine, and some of yours, too.
PARADIGM GRIFT – ‘Pretend To Will The Transformation’: http://xanaduxero.blogspot.com/2008/12/paradigm-grift.html
Seriously dude, now all of a sudden you’re so self-righteous about not attending burningman? I’ve been several times and am excited about going this year, but it’s an f’n massive party in the desert. It’s grossly wasteful and I try my best, but I’m not out there kidding myself for 15 years that it’s some enlightening, world changing experience. It’s not, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, a sustainable model for society. I’m glad it helps people be better people in this world (because we clearly need more of that) but partying in an inhospitable desert for a week, doesn’t make for a sustainable, healthy society.
Where were you 15 years ago when maybe we could have done something more substantial about climate change? Or in the 1960s when scientists first started noticing human caused warming of the planet. You were in the ethos with your head up your a*s. Now you’re deciding you’re going to do something about it? Give me a break.
So your line of reasoning, and correct me if I am wrong, is that there is no point in turning off the faucet to save water because someone did not do their job 15 years ago. Did I get that right?
And BOTH that there is no apparent trend while also seemingly being outraged that OP would dare make an ethical stand, perceiving such a trend, real or imaginary.
My issue isn’t with the ethical stand as I agree with the author’s message. My issue is the self-righteous way the author goes about it. Up until this post, the author had no problem (aside from a little guilt/shame about seeing the cirque de soleil camp using migrant labor) emotionally benefiting off of the excitement of burning man and it’s culture. Now that he’s been enlightened he feels a need to boast to all of us about his enlightenment by writing this arrogant, self-righteous diatribe about how burning man has lost its ideals. Maybe burning man has always been a little foul? Where was he then? He, like the rest of us, shouldn’t (an unfortunately likely won’t) get off so easy. Great, now I sound self-righteous
“My issue isn’t with the ethical stand as I agree with the author’s message. My issue is the self-righteous way the author goes about it.”
So you like the message, you just want to shoot the messenger. Interesting approach.
Using the gray area rationalization, it’s easy to trash the environment.
If you wanted to be on the side of the environment, you could:
A) Don’t bring or use a genset, just use rechargeable batteries and solar;
B) Avoid participating in genset camps and art – that includes EDM camps!;
C) Minimize or avoid participating in camps and art that have torches (that’s the toughest part!!);
D) Go to burns near you that you can reach by train or a short drive.
We used torches at our camp last year, since it set the mood; the best we could do is look for carbon offsets. Next time we will be looking for artificial torch effects with fans and batteries.
The hard part of what Pinchbeck is saying has probably been at work in his inner life for awhile, and is something everyone with earth consciousness must feel. It is about our individual responsibility in the face of a global eco catastrophe. The truth is we can’t heat our homes, fly around the world, drive constantly, light every 50 feet of street on earth all night and live lives personally and collectively dependent on fossil fuels without having some personal responsibility for the global consequences. This is a shared truth, so it doesn’t matter whether Pope Francis, Pinchbeck or Tich Nat Hahn is saying it.
The image of the workers’ status at burning man, combined with the questions in the discussion about BORG and money feels sadly unsurprising. When do we stop trying to buy our way into enlightenment and freedom and learn to make our own festivals of freedom? It isn’t that hard. The next step we each take matters. Listen to mother earth.
No you didn’t. My point is that this guy has written extensively about the life changing experience burning man has been for him – he even penned several books about the value of burning man – while at the same time ignoring and downplaying the inherent problems with the burning man experience. Now all of a sudden, because we’ve f’d the planet over and it’s all going to sh!t, he writes a blog post exposing his reasoning not to attend. I don’t think it’s right for one to be a cheerleader on one side of an issue, then when that position becomes untenable, to jump to the other side assuaging one’s guilt. Nowhere do I see him, more than flippantly, acknowledging, processing, discussing, and holding the pain and suffering that comes with the problems of burning man.
I’ve been to burning man and I’m going this year. Each year has been simultaneously exhilarating and ethically challenging. There are both wonderful things about burning man and significant issues that I can’t easily resolve. I don’t pretend it’s the ideal society that will save humanity, but I don’t think it’s its downfall either. Like most things, it’s somewhere in between.
Nope. “I don’t think it’s right for one to be a cheerleader on one side of an issue, then when that position becomes untenable, to jump to the other side assuaging one’s guilt.” Seems like you want to leave the water on, just for consistency, even if it’s wrong to do.
Good, one less sparklepony
Christ, what chutzpah to think anyone gives a shit whether you attend an arts festival or not. Why don’t you do some more DMT and ask the elves whether they think it was wise to pen this missive. If it’s a good batch, I’m confident they’ll advise you against wasting your energy in the future.
This is how improving a community works. We share our thoughts. We vote with our actions and we explain them to who might care why. Sometimes people even do it proactively to enact change. It’s sort of a fundamental feature of human civilization… you know, pretty much how everything of consequence has ever gotten done… you must not accomplish much.
boop, you have hit in a great point. There is a sea of difference between debating points in an argument, and claiming that the argument has no right to be made. JV is apparently severely challenged by this post, and unable to argue a single point in the message, his only resort is to shoot the messenger. The ultimate ad hominem attack.
Wrong. I was drunk.
Hanging out with Pooh again?
I think the issue is Pinchbeck’s self-importance, that he feels the need to make some rationalized, moralized, dramatized, publicized conclusions about his personal struggle with the event and assume this is “reality” for all burners… he injects his (unrelated) worldviews about ecocide and religion and what mankind’s mission should be (and therefore burners) without any hint that these are debatable… Sorry, name dropping some Monk’s name doesn’t make your argument better. Its so preachy and intellectualized and completely is not aligned with how myself or others I know think of BM. For instance he lays out compassion as an ingredient in the burner culture and I completely disagree… the whole thing smells like the same hippie bullshit that is sucking the life out of the event. If he wanted to start a dialogue there are much better ways to do it then to preach to us from on-high moral ground. Sorry, he doesn’t get to tell us what BM is… no one does.
Daniel certainly has come up with a tortured process for him to process his breaking with going to the NV burn, but that’s his journey as a writer who has made the NV burn part of his professional life. …Though I wonder if this is all a rationalization for not getting a tkt; for me it was a conscious decision to not join the tkt profile game. For me, I felt I had proved myself with placed theme camps and consistent ticketing (email address), and if the BOrg did not care to take the effort to keep me coming with the same ticketing effort, I would not.
As others have suggested, going to alternative burns is usually the best way to move onto better environments, And for me, one criteria is to not have a tkt game imposed on me and my time. Three years ago one burn in CT noted that they had copied the same tkt profile process as the BOrg, and I immediately bailed.
When I went to Burning Man, the tkt process was an investment in maybe an hour waiting online, and then I was done. Having me invest time and effort into a whole project just to get a ticket is not something I am willing to do. The burns I go to are free, or have the same modest one-time online investment, if not open online purchase.
The ease of going to the event and investing in what you are bringing, instead of just getting a tkt, is the cadre of people I knew 10 years ago at Burning Man, and is the cadre of people whom I choose to invest burn time. Effort focused on the experience and the opportunity for spontaneity are things I am not willing to give up.
I’m with ya. I have my reasons for not going and some are personal and some are related BM2.0, but regardless I wasn’t feeling it. Add to this what a pain it is to get a ticket and it is a no-brainier. I’d probably have a good time but feel that my time and money is better invested locally.
It’s nothing personal to pinchbeck. I just hate all these essays and intellectualization about burning man, all the writing up what it “is”, what we should be “learning”, and especially how to use this experience to “transform” myself or the world. It sets a framework and an expectation for what is “supposed” to happen there, it sends people there looking for a particular thing, a specific mindset is created and that pretty much destroys any real hope of creativity, spontaneity, or self-deconstruction.
Now people would argue I just wrote an essay. But I didn’t, I’m having a conversation with you and that’s completely different. We are exchanging personally and we have the opportunity to volley back n forth and find new ground. That’s the foundation of change, not lectures.
Speak for yourself, Dog. Mine was an essay. I am going to turn it in on Monday for honors summer school English.
But Pinback’s essay here is better than his wandering video diaries he posted on YouTube…
I’d give you a B… I am the asst professor in “Why burning man sucks now” studies at CFU (Cynical Fuckers University).
Should we address you as Ass Prof Dog?
Was your department involved in this “narcissistic personality disorder” research?
I prefer “prof ass hat”, but whatevs. We’ve funded several studies, all point to the same conclusion: too many dicks on the dance floor.
Every burner, at some point, comes to the crossroads of reality and ask themselves.
Self what’s the point of it all? Isn’t it just an excuse to use blinky lights, play tecno and, burn shit? The point is, there is no point. Burning Man is the contradiction we face in life. We are all burning and consuming in a constant fight against entropy, and gravity, starvation and, dehydration, inflation, deflation, deforestation, overpopulation and on, and on. So please don’t go and save the earth a little extra for me. I’m going to be there learning to touch eternity with my in breath and out breath. I’m also going to burn some shit.
I like how he compared burning man with the Catholic Church because they are both cults.
Death to the non-believers!! 🙁
Wow. Burning man has lost its way? I didn’t realize it had ‘a way’. I thought it had 70,000 different ways. So thank you oh great and powerful Pinchbeck for enlightening me and defining what the ‘the way’ for both Burning Man and Mankind is… hopefully everyone will just stop thinking, creating, experiencing, and defining it for themselves and just listen to You, Mr. Pope, and Thick Neck Nan. SAVE US!!!!!
Good points… I believe we bring a more impactful, regenerative, and ultimately transformational festival with a different model – leave a trace festivals, which positively impacts the environment, the local economy, and all attendees. I’m in the process of building a team for 2016 launch, and if this resonates with your heart, get involved: GrowUpFest.com
“GrowUp Festival is an immersive village-creation transformative gathering. Where other festivals build-up and take-down on communal grounds, GrowUp plants and builds sustainable infrastructure on private land. Other festival workshops have popular speakers lecturing or showing slides; our workshops are hands-on learning immersions, taught by master craftspeople and experts in the field, that empower you to take action on a shared vision.”
Outstanding! Signed up.
While our competitors blah blah blah, we do the opposite and blah blah blah. The more festivals that pop up in response to Burning Man, the more I appreciate Burning Man.
Hey, JV, “go burn some shit.” OK?
Not going this year, but next year, I shall do so.
It’s strange how one of the newest commodities offered to the liberal elite is the sensation of feeling like you’re the change you want to see in the world- as if there were a cure to the melancholic realization that we’re the self-destructive nature of the universe….take off the trademarked slogan and I’d be a lot less skeptical.
So you have never been amazed at the effort put into building things on the playa, and then see them disassembled or burned? With a little planning, they could be permanent, or at least last a lot longer. You know, like FigmentNYC, where you can see a lot of the art the whole summer. I suppose the Habitat for Humanity people have the wrong idea – they should burn those houses.
Surely you must know that burning the art at the end of the week speaks to the main point, for me at least, of the event, which is to let go of attachments. It’s a very powerful symbol of such. If you disagree with that practice, then I can see now why you are so disillusioned with Burning Man and prefer the other events you mention.
The irony is that the BOrg does not “let go of attachments.” Transformus does an effigy burn AND has open solicitations for new members of their all-volunteer BoD, so they walk the walk. But you don’t have to burn things to be creative, as Night Market and Figment show.
And as for tropospheric CO2 levels, burning wood and most all organic materials releases CO2 that was otherwise sequestered in the material. Growing a tree actively sequesters CO2, until you burn it.
Of course you don’t have to burn things to be creative, but fire and the burning of art is at the core of Burning Man, and for many, myself included, it’s a powerful ritual and reminder of our impermanence.
You know, I’m now at a loss as to why you spend so much time here. You’ve clearly found other events that satisfy what you’re looking for. It can’t be doing your psyche any good to come here every day and bag on an event you no longer attend.
I am here for many reasons, including, but not limited to: the many man-years I have invested in the event that the BOrg is now pimping out to line their pockets; the lessons the BOrg has taught on how not to handle a stone-soup activity which illuminate my other stone-soup efforts; the many who think the NV burn is the best if not the only way to a Burning Man experience so they can see that there are other, better ways; and, the BOrg shills who drove Nomad Traveler off FB.
That’s why I am here. Thanks for asking.
So you’re a shill for these new events your fond of? OK. See, I don’t actually believe you’re a shill, you’re merely stating your opinion. But the consensus of those who support most of burnersxxx’s views seems to be that anyone speaking favorably about Burning Man and/or the BMORG is a “shill.” Because how could anyone have the same information and come to a different conclusion than oneself? Amirite?
No, a “shill” is someone who promotes talking points and propaganda to convey information that is intended to spin perceptions.
Correct. But people who express opinions different than your own about an organization are not automatically shills.
I think the problem is resolved once you realize the event no longer has any meaningful significance. It may have at one time but has been penetrated to the heart by the so-called ‘outside reality’, ‘default world’, what have you. Despite the pretensions of its organizers, their legions of ass kissers, and those who think going to the event make them something special, it’s nothing more than a big party in the desert with a heavy law enforcement presence.
Yeah, but it makes for great music videos!
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The first year you skip sends a message to all your burner friends that you’re bitter and burnt out. They’re are actually quite offended by it, as skipping a year tells them you have better things to do than hang out with them.
This is where you start to see how cultish BM actually is. It begins with the concerned conversations wherein your so-called friends are collecting ammunition to use against you in the form of gossip, to protect the group’s ego. To protect the group’s ego, anyone is expendable and you’re ‘expended’ through character assassination. If you’re a straight male, they’ll attack you on your past hook-up and other relationships/encounters with women in and outside the group. If you do drugs regularly, people will start to talk about how you’re now abusing them.
Within the first few months you’ll feels the slight sting of being socially demoted. When you raise your concerns (“I thought we were all friends.”), that concern will also be used against you, (“Oh, Jim has become so needy.”)… This continues until either you do a fuck-you exit realizing these people were not your friends to begin with, or you accept you demotion on the outskirts of social circles (“Oh here comes Jim agin, he’s such a desperado. Did you hear what he did to Kelly”).
Ouch for you. You and I have very different burner crowds, which may be a symptom of the change Daniel is talking about. Sounds like your burner crowd is going for very different reasons.
These things didn’t happen to me. It happened to other burners who quit years before I ever quit. By watching how other burners behaved towards anyone who quit, I knew what to expect. So I just cut contact cold turnkey rather than suffer the same fate.
I suppose I was the concern guy more often than not, and got pressed hard for gossip, and then watched that gossip twist and turn against the individuals. Regionally, this was between San Francisco and Santa Barbara and a bit of LA. I saw some brutal shit.
In the manner of the parody on The Simpsons, the cult leader states ‘We shall shame him’, and construct a human jail. A parody, to be awesome, must be near to a truth that some people do not desire to believe.
I have witnessed the same thing around the San Diego “community”…mostly insecure people filling the holes in their personalities with drugs and fake friendships.
This is dumb
I wonder if the BOrg’s NPD actions encourage others to have the same cult-like approach to the NV burn.
This is extremely stupid and pretentious in my opinion.
First of all, he joins two completely unrelated topics in order to advance his “point”. Those topics are, The decline of BM and the Ecological catastrophe on Earth.
Yes there is a problem on Earth. But how is that related to BM, a massive pollutant emission festival where people burn things. Did you really ever thought BM was eco-friendly?
Next, the whole rant seems to be an assertion backed by his own unsourced arguments and empirical knowledge (experience) in order to reaffirm and solidify his beliefs in bla bla bla Pope Francis recent speeches.
Next, he claims some Buddhist monk says that mankind has less than a 100 years left. Amazing, I didn’t know Buddhist monks were environmental scientists. Even if that monk in particular was an actual scientist; I’d like to see his publications/papers and also have them peer reviewed. This fella is treating some random guy saying as effective truth. I’m sure he is an avid reader of the Huffington Post.
Next he asserts the truth in Pope Francis sayings because of his drug experiences. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.
His final statement can be resumed as: “Grr fucking rich people”.
As a final offense, apparently he needs a sponsor on his life and he is asking for support from the lovely public!
With such a naive mind, it is evident he needs help to get through in the real world.
My best wishes for him.
Hamlet: Madam, how like you this play?
Queen: The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
-Hamlet, Act 3, scene 2, 228–230
kstx, you went over the top. Next time try to stick with one or two points. You did too much for it to be believable. After all, faulting a post for using empirical data to make a personal choice? The Buddhist as scientist was a nice touch, but bringing up Pope Francis defeats your argument that saving the planet is not a blanket human responsibility.
Hope this does not lose you any points. We can bring this up at the next Shill Workshop.
i liked the article and …yeah grr selfish rich elitists…they suck..so self fucking important
I’m going to respond based on what I read at the top of this piece. I’ll admit straight up that I didn’t read all the way through. So take my thoughts with that in mind.
A little more context: This year will be my 17th Burning Man. Out of 18 years. I’m a Ranger. I was a Greeter for many years. I’ve hosted a theme camp, worked at DMV, helped (a small bit) on art projects, written about Burning Man for both on-playa media (the Black Rock Gazette) and professional media (Wired and CNET), and spent countless hours talking to burners of all kinds, both insiders, and random strangers at dawn on the open playa. I’m not DPW, but by almost any definition I have full jaded fuck credentials when it comes to Burning Man.
It saddens me to think that someone who’s never been to Burning Man will read the author’s well-written, thought out, and articulated piece, and make their decision of whether or not to attend That Thing in the Desert because they think, Well, if an old-timer like the author, a respected writer, has given up, it must really be over. I think that potential newbie deserves to also hear the counter reality from another longtime veteran, which is, in my view, that the very beating heart of Burning Man and Black Rock City is as strong as it’s ever been.
Want proof? Wander around deep playa in the middle of the night and listen to the small balls of laughter coming from gaggles of people wandering around as they joke with each other and strangers, and as they encounter random awe-inspiring small art pieces they haven’t seen before and could never find again.
Try walking a Ranger shift for six hours and not see the overwhelming good will that people express, and the countless numbers of terrific conversations you can have when you stop and talk to people on the streets of the city or sit down and Ranger their shade.
Stand in the middle of the Temple and look at the emotions on people’s faces. Read some of the inscriptions. Think about what you really want to say, and leave your own. And then, when you’ve dealt with your own emotions, step outside and marvel at the structure itself and the un-believe-able things you can see in every direction.
Of course there are ways that the event has been overtaken by the wealthy and the elite. But then again, let’s recall that the very first ever Google doodle was in 1998 when Larry and Sergey went to Burning Man. And not by any means for their only times. Yes, the turnkey camps have gotten extreme, and there are people exploiting the community and the event, and in some ways the organizers are allowing it and enabling it.
And to be sure, every burner gets to make their own decision about why or why not to go. I’ve doubted that I would come almost every year for like the last ten. And every year (except 2008) that doubt has been overcome by the vision of walking across the playa and being startled at seeing a whale drive by, or El Pulpo Mecanico, or stumbling across the Lost Penguin. Or working a Ranger shift and helping some newbie find their way back to camp, or coming up with a clever way to help two participants resolve a dispute.
I would challenge any burner to look for and look forward to those kinds of moments, and if they’re willing to, they’ll discover (if they’re a newbie), or remember (if they’re a veteran) that it’s the fundamental natures of Burning Man that make it, in my humble opinion, the best place in the world, and better than ever.
aka Ranger Jschool
Dan, I would offer two observations:
First, I doubt David was writing to people who had never been to the burn. Frankly, I doubt much that he wrote would register with them.
Second, I presume you have been spared playing the peasant ticketing game since the sellout. This means that you can approach the NV burn as I did when I went, without the scars, wasted time and compromises of trying to make last year happen when fate has not let some of your camp-mates attend. In fact, sounds like pretty much all of your on-playa cadres from last year were there if they so choose. You have been spared the new barriers and have also had a clear normalizing force with a day job in BRC. This colors your experience. If you are talking to people who have never attended, then would your impression apply if they are not to be involved as you have been?
That is a fair comment: I was allowed to purchase tickets in the directed sale, something that not everyone had access to. That said, numerous close friends of mine, from my camp, have had tremendous issues getting tickets. Even within the Rangers, there are plenty of people, or people close to them, who have trouble getting tickets.
But I understand your point.
I’m not sure I agree that much he wrote would resonate with a potential first-timer. He’s a well-known writer with lots of experience, and he’s saying it’s jumped the shark. Fair enough. I know plenty of old-timers who agree with that notion. And I tell them the same thing I wrote above: the magic is very much still there.
I think many of us, who have had Burning Man become a significant part of our lives, have gone through periods where we think it’s utopia. I certainly did for a while. But it’s not. It’s a big festival at the end of a long two-lane road. There are limits on the number of people who can attend. If you really want to go, you can go. There are ways. And I don’t mean buying scalped tickets at high prices. First-timers certainly don’t have the benefit of that knowledge. True enough. Still, there are ways.
Anyway, I just wanted people to hear another old-timer make the counter point. Again, there is plenty of the magic still pulsing through Burning Man’s heart.
I am in agreement in regards of there is plenty of the magic still pulsing through Burning Man’s heart.
Dan, certainly the magic is not gone, but it is being spread pretty thin. Many more times the number of people, and arguably less magic. There is always shade in the desert. Depends on what you can catch, and how.
I also note your plethora of caveats around the ticketing issue. When you are on the side of the game that gets tickets, it seems fair and balanced.
Also keep in mind that the night sky is more dramatic when you have been inside; and so, the magic is more noticeable in contrast to your various BRC day jobs roles you cited. Perhaps that stark contrast is why the Night Market experience is so amazing – step out of the subway, walk a block, and it’s like BRC in Brooklyn.
So perhaps “a big festival at the end of a long two-lane road” is good enough in contrast to assigned tasks. But as many shaman traditions have set, it takes time and a separate protected space to reach certain states of consciousness. I found that easier when I did not have to lock my bike, watch out for entrapment shills and narcs when I was looking to share, watch out for LE vehicles (and their dust) as they speed by only because they could, and wishing I could have our theme camp for want of team members that lost their tickets to virgins and CCampers at the caprice of the BOrg.
I honestly think that much of the fears (of the elite, of the police, of crowds, etc) are the same ones I was hearing back in 2000. I don’t know if you were there that year, but there were police walking the Esplanade in pairs with German Shepherds. As I mentioned in my first post, the tech elite have been coming to Burning Man forever. Not a lot of this is new — it’s just more.
One thing I tell people who ask me about Burning Man’s growth is that, yes, there are more people who don’t get it, there are more plug-n-play camps, but there are also more artists, more incredible brains. I won’t pretend that 2014 was a top-tier art year, but 2013 was the best art year in all my years on the playa. Which suggests to me that it is not being spread too thin at all. There are more layers to wade through, perhaps. But everything changes.
Really, what I’m saying is, if you want that original magic, without having to deal with any of the unfortunate stuff, then sure, I get why you might want to stay away. I’ve been to several Night Markets in the Bay Area, and they are completely awesome in every way. So are the smaller playa trips that people do. But where else but at Burning Man can you see the big art, the fantastic art cars, the total cacophony, etc, etc, etc. The barrier to entry (for finding the magic) is a little higher than it once was. But to me at least, it’s completely worth the price.
And how much of your price – ticket, food, accommodations – came out of your net disposable income?
Thank you- I’m a first timer ( I’ve had a nomadic life abroad and finally am near and can go) as luck would have it a ticket came easily. I’m just going to assume that fate wants me there, and despite all the down talking the magic this is left, will find me.
Picnic, if your BRC experience looks like a typical BM video posted, you are doing it wrong and missing out on the experience. Don’t make too much effort to get on the art cars, just enjoy them as they pass. Stay away from loud noises and enjoy the art, the theme camps, and the people who will take the time to talk with you.
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But don’t forget to lock your bike, watch out for entrapment shills and narcs, and watch out for LE vehicles (and their dust) as they speed by only because they can.
If this is your first Burn, welcome. Also, you should stop reading this blog. It’s written by bitter ex-burners who only focus on the negative and probably never got the magic. It will take you about 20 minutes on playa.
The only magic from Burning Man comes from BMOrg. Without them, you can’t experience it. The more you donate to The Burning Man Project ™, the more Personal Transformation Experience(tm) you may have!
Picnic, be open, say yes, smile and enjoy the magic that is Black Rock City: the only city on our planet that is dedicated to self expression and gifting. Love, a jaded (not) 16 year burning man citizen/participant.
Hey congrats Picnic on the ticket! I’m envious, year 2 w/o. Anyway, you will find a more balanced perspective here AND useful information, more so than BM boards which seem rather kiss-ass to me, but I am a crusty old grouch (not really, OK, half true) 😉 but that’s better than being an old troll. (*he who shall not be named that drinks the cool-aid* P B) Hum? Calling folks ex-burners is like calling old-folks ex-hippies, it’s meaningless… Love & Peace, FYB!
Awesome comment, Daniel, but might you read the article, in the place of basing your beliefs of what Mr. Pinchbeck states solely upon the comments of others? Kudos in regards of your contributions, for numerous years, towards the burn, and towards the awesome Burner community.
We viewed the article in regards of ‘Hopefully, this is temporary’, in the manner Mr. Pinchbeck states. Might the huge Catholic Church regain its soul, in due of a new leader, so might Burning Man do so. The BMOrg, on the playa within 2014, admitted the burn jumped the shark in the manner Mr. Pinchbeck states, thus, what he states is not new. Burning Man, at present, is a 501(c)3 public benefit corporation, with a board of directors whom are responsible in regards of the direction of the Burning Man Project, it is not solely Larry, and Marian, in the manner of a private corporation, in despite of what Larry might desire.
Well said Greeter Dan
I’m a newbie this year – I’ve been remote and abroad and finally am near and can attend. Thanks for encouraging me… It’s never too late…
I think this piece of writing rings poorly with people who aren’t considering it in its proper context…the perspective of someone who has been going to BM for 15 straight years. I’m sure that whatever luxury you would see there as a first-timer would be mixed in with all sorts of other new experiences…it wouldn’t bother you as much as it bothers Mr. Pinchbeck. The BM community may be going through a stage of ‘less focused goals’ that many communities go through, but I’ve also seen evidence that BM culture has spread and supported/incubated other creative projects around the country and the world. The original event may never have that focused feeling that it used to, but its offspring and related projects (for example, involvement with crypto currencies) could be the site of the newest experiments to improve our ecological & interpersonal predicaments.
“…its offspring and related projects (for example, involvement with crypto currencies) could be the site of the newest experiments to improve our ecological & interpersonal predicaments.” That’s not what I took from Daniel’s article, but it does blend well with this article: For $2,199, Your Enlightened Ass Can Fly to Burning Man in a Private Plane by David Garber (thump.vice.com/en_us/article/for-2199-your-enlightened-ass-can-fly-to-burning-man-in-a-private-plane)
Hum, I wonder if they accept payment in crypto currencies?
Kudos to Mr. Pinchbeck for penning an awesome article in a Sacred Spaces manner.
“… In many ways, it, Burning Man, reveals our innate capacities to build a new society, a redesigned society, based on creativity, community, inspiration, and compassion. At the same time, Burning Man has become another spectacle – another cultural phenomenon, in a sense, a cult … The organization, itself, needs to undergo another level of self-analysis and transformation – much like the Catholic Church appears to be doing, under Pope Francis’ lead.”
The comparison in regards of Burning Man, which has lost much of its soul, to the huge Catholic Church, which has lost much of its soul, but is, at present, regaining much of its soul in due of new leaders, is a most awesome comparison. It has much hope for the Catholic Church, and much hope that Burning Man might regain much of its soul. Burning Man might regain much of its soul and show true Gratitude towards the numerous contributing Burners, and respect the awesome Burner Community, within their actions, not solely within rubbish words, and permit the awesome Burner community to have a big voice in the direction of Burning Man.
What was needed in regards of the Catholic Church to regain much of its soul was new leaders, purposed to change the direction of the Catholic Church. In a most similar manner, what Burning Man needs is new leaders, purposed to change the direction of Burning Man. Numerous awesome Burners are contributing towards the crowd sourced, bottoms up burns, and many awesome people are within the org, it is solely a few people doing the most horrible, top down decisions. The first step, of the twelve steps, is the admittance of a problem, by the BMOrg, and by the Burning Man Project board.
The difficulties are in regards of in despite of the transition from a private LLC corporation, to a public benefit 501(c)3 corporation, Larry, and his mates, remain ministering the 501(c)3 in the top down control manner of a private corporation, with their for profit Decommodification LLC, and their for profit Black Rock City LLC, dba Burning Man, the Burning Man event, a subsidiary corporation of the 501(c)3, with the profits of the BRC LLC going to their 501(c)3 in the manner of a model L fiscal sponsorship, in the manner the BMOrg states.
This is in due of the rubbish Burning Man Project bylaws, penned, by appearance, and by a prior SFBG newspaper article by Scribe, by lawyers for Larry and Marian, purposed for them to keep near to total control over Burning Man, as much as they might. Might you desire lols, view the bylaws within the Burning Man Project site. The proper manner to change this is, within the bylaws, the 6 founding members of the 501(c)3 are to re-write the bylaws each two years, to be voted upon by the 17 member Project board. This is to occur at the Project board meeting at the Artuminal, near to the U.S. Thanksgiving of 2015.
My belief is the other 4 founding members might hire a lawyer, in addendum of the Project board, within their most proper responsibilities of oversight of the Burning Man Project, might hire a lawyer to negotiate the new bylaws, purposed for the benefit of the Project. I am not of the ability to know the proper changes towards the Project bylaws, but, the new bylaws must give proper voice to the Project board, and must give proper voice to the awesome Burner community, in addendum of showing true Gratitude towards the artists, and towards other awesome Burners whom throw, and whom have thrown, the bottoms up crowd sourced events, and must be purposed to build the Community, in the place of replacing the Community.
Might the Project board discuss the proper manner of changing the Project bylaws, on the playa, in a brace of weeks, purposed for the benefit of the Burning Man Project? In addendum, of while they are on the playa, might the Project board vote to send the 2014 990 form to the U.S. government and publish the 2014 990 form, including of details of conflicts of interests? In addendum, it is most desired might the Project board vote to publish the 2014 Consolidated Financial statement, and the ledger of revenues and costs of the 2014 burn, in the manner of numerous other 501(c)3 corporations, and of the regionals 501(c)3 corporations, in place of hiding this information from donors of cash, stock, art, labour, and entertainment towards their ticket buyers..
I’m not going to Bonaroo, Choachella, or EDC this year. I’m just not egotistical enough to think anyone gives a shit about it.
BTW the people who are going to save the world are energetic creative souls. If only there were an event where people like that could come together, share ideas, and be reenergized for the fight ahead.
What is your personal eco-footprint? I’ll bet you know how many gallons of gas you use a week. But do you know how many gallons of water you use a day? How many KWH per day? How many pounds of CO2 does generating that electricity release? How many gallons of potable water does that use to cool the power plant? (Or how many gallons of water evaporate from the reservoir to hold the water for that hydro power.)
If you don’t know the answer to those questions, you are part of the problem, not the solution. It’s just cocktail/bar/watercooler conversation to you.
Agree, but sadly I missed Woodstock. I was becoming “enlightened” at an unadvertised “event” in Uvalde County on the Frio. (Yes, this is where the dead voted for LBJ, such energetic souls 😉
I’m not going to Burning Man this year, just like every year because
1) I’m a working artist, can’t afford it
2) don’t like heat and dust
3) don’t like crowds
I like the essay very much. I agree with not falling into Buddhist fatalism, but getting out and DOING something about whatever it is concerns you!
Are there any costs imposed by the BOrg that are significant, such as insurance, or is it just creating and moving the art that you cannot afford?
Mr. Pinchbeck, I believe you are a little myopic if you aren’t aware that there have been very wealthy people on the playa from (at least) the late 90’s and the dot-com era. In my opinion you have fallen into the trap that we have in the default world, paying too much attention to the media. If I didn’t hear from websites like this one about the “billionaire camps” I wold not even know they exit much less let that ruin my own time on the playa. I live in Reno and I would love to show you the many people here who build art for Burning Man every year who make less than minimum wage.
I am not here to tell you that Burning Man is perfect. I stopped listening to BMIR years ago because I didn’t want to hear about stolen bikes and police raids, I get enough of that outside. It is a city. My contention is, I guess, for that week, ignorance is bliss. Why people have to spend so much effort the other 51 weeks of the year trying to tell the rest of the world that they are now “too cool for Burning Man” I have no idea. Why are you (and this site) trying to take that joy from the rest of us? I have no idea.
Looking forward to your article on why Disneyland sucks so I can scare off my kids and save them years of unhappiness. And why should they travel the world to see it? Egypt must be terrible, France, China and India are verboten because rich people probably live there and there is no way for anyone to look beyond that to see the richness and beauty of there own travels.
Thanks for you article so I could get this off my chest.
It’s worth it to recognize that Pinchbeck is writing about Burning Man this way after attending it 15 years…in a row. So…he could probably be afforded the type of tolerance you give old people who say “the movies aren’t like they used to be” – which is true.
I’ve been going for 16 years. I’ve lived next door to PnP (hate it, they’re lousy neighbors), read everything ever written (disagree with most of it); seen every video (who ARE those people???) and still going strong! I love our city of participation, self expression, freedom, gifting, smiles,
and creativity in the dust.
I am amused by the BOrg shills and their talking points. This one is about how “rich people have always been at Burning Man.” DUH! That was not David’s complaint. The talking point conflates responsible rich people doing the burn like the rest of us – like the story of how Sting joined a camp year back, and in a few minutes had put on a nail belt and was swinging a hammer like everyone else – compared to CCamps, as David described, built by paid labor and sitting empty for most of the week.
Have CCamps always been at Burning Man? No, unless you count First Camp and their coffee service. …BTW, do Larry and Marion have to wait in like for coffee like the rest of us? I am guessing not.
Just like you ignoring that CC camps didn’t get placement this year.
^ rofl. That’s right Pooh. There won’t be a single Commodification Camp at BM this year. Because Voices of Burning Man said so!
The waterboarding that the US did was not torture because we don’t do torture. Semantics RULE! Vote for Jeb!
We shall see if any CCamps got placement once we see the BRC layout, and the moop map in September. I would also say we can look at the financials for contributions, but the CA AG does not take 501(c)3s seriously.
I won’t be there (or will I), but it should be easy to find the CCamps. Just go to the airport and follow the “handicapped” golf carts and land yachts as they take their 5-figure charges to their radical self-reliance and self-expression experience.
Hopefully someone can report back here.
I appreciate the thought and passion that went into the post, and started to feel guilty (guess it is my Catholic upbringing, and the Popes have always been good at that skill.)
That said, yes, I could feel crappy about all the wasted effort I put in to getting my art ready for the burn – but you know what? I do it to stay sane. It helps me. I need to do this. And, unlike fighting global inequities, after every evening in the shop I feel a little closer to having actually accomplished something. That is important when so much else seems to be tilting at windmills.
“(Burning Man) has lost its way.”
And he’s only now figuring this out? Probably had a double dose of Kool Aid, but thankfully it’s wearing off now. Wait until the hangover hits, though… I recommend a lot of Jack Daniels to ease the pain.
Well said, David. I am doing my save-the-planet thing daily, and measure success by reduced CO2, water use, and release of eco-toxins.
You have more hope than I have in the NV burn turning around. For me, it would need to:
a) not have fuel delivery to gensets;
b) ideally not have gensets at all;
c) budget for use of carbon fuels for fire effects.
This would foster artistic innovation and true self-reliance. Being in the desert is one thing, and bringing all the default world with you is quite another. It could be a way to demonstrate how to create a sustainable city for a week – an amazing missed opportunity.
So, I hope to find it elsewhere. Please keep us posted on what you may find in the way of sustainable alternative burns.
I would hope to see something like Burnt Soup, which is held in TX at the same time as the NV burn, but closer to Reno – roughly the same travel time from SF. It could be a place for all the NV burn rejects and refugees to have their own burn. Could be quite interesting.
The article wasn’t arguing that burning man is bad. He is explaining his personal decision not to attend the event this year. I think the main point is summed up in this paragraph:
“As I wrote in my books, I believe Burning Man represents an organic expression of something innate to human being-ness: We need initiatory experiences – centers where non-ordinary states of consciousness can be explored and, also, interpreted, with a shared context for understanding and integration. Emerging from the psychedelic culture of the Bay Area, Burning Man is, to a certain extent, a postmodern reinvention of centers of Mystery School wisdom, like Eleusis, which the artists, philosophers, and leaders of the Classical World visited each year. However, at this point, it lacks a deeper awareness of its own value and purpose. Without this, it is in danger of becoming another appendage of the military-industrial-entertainment complex – another distraction factory.”
What he valued in it – that it provided a space to explore non-ordinary states of consciousness, and all the benefits associated with that – is, in his opinion, becoming more rare at the event. It’s becoming more about entertainment and spectacle. For him, that is a reason not to go. He’s not saying the event is ‘bad’ or even that other people should not go. The title is the clue to what this article is about.
Anyone who can say Burning Man is “mostly made up of the wealthy” is both full of shit and a shitty journalist. Good riddance
As usual, you are way off-base, Pooh. The majority don’t have to be the elite to spoil the event. Just as the millionaires-to-be that get into the US Congress, they are not the majority, yet they pretty much spoil it for the rest of us.
Ten years ago Burning Man was a special place. where money meant nothing and each person was only who they were, not what they owned. You could get to know the real person, and yourself. Yeah,First Camp was different, but they were a spec in the landscape.
Now, the monied elite command the event, from the BMP BoD, and the fawning BOrg who spin the Tin Principles to make the NV burn the spectator spectacle that they have been promised. Look at all the music videos people do of the event – the promise that you, too, can be one of the beautiful people in the movie.
It only takes enough to kill the spirit. It died for me several years ago, and others are jumping ship for the same reason.
So Pooh, I say to you, and all the others whom the BOrg have invited, enjoy yourselves. Maybe you can find some conclaves of Burning Man between the land yachts and EDM dance parties. For the rest of us, we can find better elsewhere, and not be part the unpaid entertainment zoo for the elite.
And, Pooh, in case you missed the analogy with the US Congress and the BMP BoD/Borg…
What are two of the biggest challenges facing every US citizen, as well as the government budget? Cost of heath care, and retirement. Did you notice that the US Congress has exempted themselves from both of these concerns? As the Pope-joke punch line goes, “You no playa the game, you no maka the rules.”
The fate of the NV burn and the burners is determined by people that simply don’t represent the burners. And what about their friends who might have to face some of the ticket and playa constraints? That’s what the CCamps are for, and the “handicapped” golf carts. From LNT to art car accessibility to participation to ticketing, they are given a nod and a wink.
The minor effect on the playa experience is that they set a precedent that “the rest of us” are punished for doing. The high volume of virgins makes this all the harder.
But the major effect is, like the US Congress, not only do they not represent us by any stretch of the imagination, they don’t have to follow the rules, policies, and practices they make for the rest of us. So these are not real to them. They have insulated themselves and their friends from them. And so, they have no motivation to make things right for the burners. And that impacts the experience for everyone in BRC.
So, lock your bike, watch out for entrapment shills and narcs, and the LE vehicles (and their dust) as they speed by, as you wait in line for want of a better burn location, dream about the art that was not there for want of a common liability insurance policy, and wish you could have done your theme camp for want of your team members that lost their tickets to virgins and CCampers. That’s why I am not going.
But, Nomad, the ‘old’ BRC is still there. In spades. The PnP, rich, elitist, media hyped BS is such a small percentage of the reality that is OUR city; certainly, if you choose to focus on those aspects, you will be overwhelmed by them; conversely, when one looks for the smiles, the gifts, the creativity, the real humans … you will find that WE are in the majority. Let’s keep it that way, k??
Glad you can find it. Having now done other burns, all I can say is that I enjoy the experience better when I did not have to lock my bike, watch out for entrapment shills and narcs when I was looking to share, beware of LE vehicles (and their dust) as they speed by only because they could. These are not a result of subjective perception focus but are direct factors that effect the experience second by second. And if I went, I would miss having our theme camp for want of team members that lost their tickets to virgins and CCampers at the caprice of the BOrg.
The spirit of the other burns is quite different when you deal with the organization. They are usually all-volunteer, open, and encouraging to your participation in their work, as well as in the event. They don’t have the cult-like differentiation that the BOrg plays to get their NPD supplies.
I have no doubt that you can find an experience path through BRC that is like I found years ago, but you would have to seek it out, while also avoiding the buzz-kills. But there are some unavoidable “thousand little deaths” in BRC. One that comes to mind is one of my favorite camps, the Abstininthe Bar. In the years before they got entrapment busted for serving underage, it was a great, fun place. But after that, the mood changed, with the bartenders always looking over their shoulder.
So, good luck with that. Since the BOrg have abandoned the spirit of re-creation each year, choosing instead to follow a calcified formula, I have chosen to re-create my discovery experience elsewhere. And as interesting as BRC and the monumental playa art are, there are other, new, different things to experience.
No argument with what he’s said, just not sure what any of that has to do with his not attending Burning Man. Most of the people I meet there are actively working on creating themselves as expressive loving people – the very kind we need more of in the world today. Still time to change your mind, Daniel.
Burning Man = Bad because people waste their time not focusing on saving planet
Also, there’s almost 70,000 people that attend. I’m not a part of the tech elite. I don’t know anyone that has gone to the burn that is a part of the tech elite. I might have met one at the burn, but I have no idea. I do know that I’ve met hundreds of people that camp just like me, intense intents in tents. I find it hard to believe that tech elite are at all close to outnumbering middle class people out there.
The members of Congress don’t yet outnumber the middle class, so – no problem, right?