Part 1 starts here. There is a lot of information, a lot of ground to cover, a lot of foundations to lay. Burning Man is not just a rave. There is much more to it, and when we look at it in its proper historical and geographical context, an incredible story unfolds.
Download the presentation:
Shadow History of Burners Part 1
Powerpoint file with notes (recommended)
PDF of the slides
Audio-only Podcast: Gnostic Media Episode 247
Yesterday I shared some of my personal Burning Man stories. How I first got caught up in this thing. Even though Cargo Cult was not so long ago, a lot has happened in my life since then.
I have tickets for this year, and my plan is to attend…if they’ll have me. Which is the point of this post. Are we really all welcome? Even the critics? Even people who speak truth, and debunk propaganda? How far does Radical Inclusion really stretch?
If you speak out against the Ruling Group, do you get blacklisted (like a cult)? Or is this truly a city of freedom and inclusion?
I started this blog in February 2012 to comment on what is being said about Burner culture on the Internet. Since we began, the global Burning Man hype has been catapulted to unprecedented levels. Now, I’m not claiming sole credit for that. New stories about Burning Man appear in the media at least once per week, giving me a steady stream of content to share opinions about. How do those stories get there? BMOrg’s team of at least half a dozen full time PR staff may have contributed; The Simpsons and Oprah sure didn’t hurt. Having a year-round Burning Man reporter embedded at the Reno Gazette-Journal didn’t hurt either.
In that context, 1500 stories about Burning Man going to an audience of millions is just more momentum to the avalanche…
Bringing truth into an environment constructed upon propaganda and magical thinking has not occurred without ruffling a few feathers. That’s the nature of truth.
I feel that we have been successful in waking some people up. But for every Burner who may have seen the light, there’s at least one who has been brainwashed into thinking we’re the Enemy.
As Bohemian Grover Mark Twain once said, “it’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled”
This year Burning Man celebrates its 30th anniversary. Attendance is higher than ever, ticket prices are higher than ever, demand is higher than ever. Everything seems great, right? Why do I have to complain, when it’s clearly all just swell?
At the same time, we’re told “we’re saving the world”. That’s good, right? Surely we can just talk about how we’re saving the world, rather than complaining?
Well, I would love to. But it’s not up to me: I don’t hold the purse strings of their nearly $40 million annual budget. We have to look at where the money gets spent. Is it really going towards world-saving activities?
The best the Org could come up with at their recent Global Leadership Conference was $3000 of art grants split between 4 projects. And they think this is making the world a better place? IT’S TWO DA VINCI TICKETS AND A VEHICLE PASS. Plus tax, handling fees per item, $22 to post a letter, etc.
That’s what the new 2016 innovation of “Art Tickets” bought. A total of 2 of these VIP tickets were used for doing good in the world. The other *cough* 998? We will probably never know what happened to that money.
Just the increase in vehicle passes from $40 last year to $50 this year brings BMOrg an extra quarter of a million dollars cash. For providing nothing. And we’re supposed to bow and scrape about this $3k?
Nobody could really be that stupid. Which makes me wonder if this is all some sort of giant Kool-Aid test. How much bullshit can we dump on this community and still get away with it?Ticket and art budget shenanigans being two recent cases in point.
They’ve employed Ministers for Propaganda for 23 of their 30 years. Their magickal cauldron is called the Devil. The event takes place inside a pentagon, with satellite images freely available. It is all right there in everyone’s face. No irony required.
Over the last few years, in addition to writing this blog I have also been working on a book about the Shadow History of Silicon Valley. It has been an intriguing, surprising, baffling, and exhausting adventure. There is no “Hero’s Journey” here for me. I am no longer trying to discover myself, or figure out how the world works. I know how the world works – and it scares me. There should be more people trying to spread awareness, to break people out of their trance. Instead, society is being deliberately dumbed down. Propaganda, logical fallacies, and cultural Marxism rule the day. Facts like “vaccine problems get prosecuted in a secret court“ get conflated with propaganda like “anti vaxxers are ignorant and want to kill little kids”. Or “Trump supporters are all racist Nazis”.
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act” George Orwell, 1984
Why should you care? Maybe you shouldn’t. Nobody is forcing you to read this blog. I am just writing to share my opinions to whoever is interested. The BJ is doing that too, and if you like their propaganda better than our facts, then please enjoy.
What is my motivation?
I am researching the history of computers. Burning Man plays a small but important part in this story.
I am certainly not trying to harm Burning Man in any way by learning about it and writing about it. I love Burning Man. I think everyone should go at least once in their lives. What drew me to this party in the first place was the idea of experimenting in different ways of civilization. Let’s get back to that.
I have chosen a very specific channel for publishing my research at this time: Gnostic Media. Jan Irvin’s work is founded on the Trivium Method, which I encourage everyone of any age to learn. It is one of the most powerful tools I have in my life, one of the few antidotes to propaganda that I have ever discovered. It is a framework you can use to relate to your reality. This happens to be the claim made by the “Hero’s Journey” framework that Esalen promotes:
The main difference that I see between the two frameworks is that the Trivium Method encourages you to focus on facts and what is known and visible to the five senses. It encourages logic, analysis, and critical thinking. The Monomyth Method, on the other hand, encourages groupthink and magical thinking. It is excellent for consensus decision making, inclusion of minority viewpoints, positive emotions, a sense of teamwork, and a feeling that we are all one. It is woefully inadequate for r/K selection theory K breeding of closely knit clusters of success.
I believe that to survive and thrive in the new digital world we need to rely on the most ancient of skills: Grammar (Who/Where/When/What), Logic (Why), and Rhetoric (How). If you get the grammar right – meaning that you have a clear understanding of Who the players are, Where everything is happening, and the timeline of what is going on – then the What, How, and Why can become self-evident: they unfold automatically.
The Magical Thinking Propaganda method means that you use words and charisma to trigger peoples’ emotions. You want them connecting to the leader and following them; you don’t want them thinking too much about the Why, How, and What. Using this method, you can lead people into doing illogical things that are against their own self interest. Drugs and hypnosis can be used to enhance suggestibility.
The Trivium Method wants us to consider crystal clear facts, and identify speculation and contradictions. As much as possible we use primary source documentation. Whenever we quote someone, we are quoting them verbatim. We provide citations and references supporting our claims. References used by the Magical Thinking method will most often be to prior examples of Magical Thinking, that are presented as authoritative.
Disciples of the Magical Thinking method will say that the Trivium Method is negative and fear based, or they will otherwise try to discredit it. They will say that their positive methods uplift people, while negative approaches only hold people down and create limitations.
The Trivium is thousands of years old, and is the basis for a classical education. If the results of applying it are negative, it is because what is being considered is negative to begin with. Magical Thinking is only ever positive; reality is relative, something to be distorted and manipulated.
Which one should you believe? Magical thinking says trust the charismatic leader. Trust the cult that wants to disconnect you from the outside world. The Trivium Method says learn how to do your own research and make up your own mind. We present facts and evidence; consider them. We don’t say “our method is superior”. We say “prove us wrong!” It is significant that competing philosophies do not share such a focus on the truth.
Think for yourself, question authority.
What would I have to gain from lying to you? Money? What money? This is free. I’m not selling any thousand dollar tickets. Power? What power? Burning Man doesn’t impress people any more. There’s no power in blogging. Friends? I have plenty. If anything I could lose social capital from this course. Ego? I would be better off writing my own memoir than studying the exploits of others.
If you doubt my motivation, perhaps allow your head to entertain for a moment the possibility that I am an honest man with good intentions. If I was, then what would I do? How would it look different from what I’m doing right now? I am putting my good name (already smeared by these people) and perhaps even the health and wellbeing of myself and my family on the line. For what gain?
What if there actually isn’t an expectation of gain? What if it is about Gifting, and Communal Effort? Noblesse oblige. Leaving someone else’s alleged principles aside, what if I really want to Leave A Big Fucking Trace? Something permanent, that might last beyond my years. The same Beasts the Founding Fathers tried to fight – Tyranny, Secret Societies, Central Banking, and Imperialism – are alive and well, and stronger than ever. Now in the 21st century becoming smarter and smaller and less visible, attacking our very minds and even our souls with electronic, chemical, biological, and anthropological weapons.
We, humans, our species, we need to wake up – urgently. Corporations and Artificial Intelligences should not be allowed to become the apex predator species on this planet. They can never be punished, never be jailed. Who do they account to? We have had 2 full Presidential terms since the Wall Street crimes of 2007-8, which have been clearly exposed in movies like The Big Short, Inside Job, Margin Call, Too Big To Fail…not to mention all the mainstream media. And yet, nobody gets in trouble. Why not? Why do we just passively accept corruption, corporate coups, and human rights abuses? Am I supposed to just sit down, shut up, and take it? ARE YOU?
If you’re still wondering WTF I’m talking about, please allow me some time. It’s taken me three years to get to the point where I can publicly share this research. The introduction is more than 2 hours because there is a lot of ground to cover. [I’ll try to make the next part shorter, I promise!] I think you’ll find it interesting, I certainly have putting it all together.
Am I trying to hurt Burning Man or the Org? Absolutely not. I love Burning Man. Everyone should go, at least once. See for yourself. Be inspired at what there is in this world, Disneyland, the Maker Movement, Art Basel, and Spring Break all wrapped up together. That’s still – after 30 years – a pretty unique and special combination, no matter who’s pulling the strings.
I have made an effort to place my research into a broader historical context, which should not in any way impede the Burning Man Project’s ability to raise donations and Black Rock City LLC’s ability to sell tickets. I am not responsible for any organizational turnover or management issues within that group of companies – which recent times have seen a lot of.
I’m just a Burner, checking things out for myself, doing the research, and sharing it with you all, for free. Open your mind, or not, it’s up to you, I’m not preaching anything but truth. After truth comes reconciliation. I hope that then, the creativity and advancement of humans can truly be unleashed.
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Sounds like somebodies Mad as Hell, and he’s Not Going to Take it Anymore!
Throw open your windows people, & howl at the moon.
You mean like this?
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I went 13 times. I realized recently that 2009 was the last burn I attended where it felt like a place I was meant to be. After that, it was just a habit that returned less than it took. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have fun, I just couldn’t seem to find the vibe. Certainly stuff happened, I had adventures, but everything after 2009 seems like kind of a blur of dust, people, EL wire and anomie. I could write a tale about the events at the 2009 burn being a turning point for me and perhaps a lot of people, but that would be just another story. Good luck burners. There will never be another burn like the first time I went. Maybe the drug just wears off.
I suppose I am lucky that 2009 was my last year. After that, there was the sellout, the ticketing games, CCamps, locked bikes, and so much more that I happily never experienced. Have done many new and different things since. https://vid.me/Nomad-Traveler/albums/original-videos
Have now done our theme camp at other burns, including this year. Today, I delightfully told someone, “You should come! Just buy a ticket online.” Remember that from 2009?!! Creative spontaneity with no tribute paid to the Borg. That’s my new rule: if the tickets are sold out so you can’t come too, I am not there.
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Hello, i’d like to thank you for your courage. I’ve listened to the two of you on this one 3 times and am blown away each time. I’ve been following some of Jan’s work on YT for about 6 months and have learned a lot and consider the work you two are doing very important to humanity. I am on the edge of my bed waiting for the next bout of enlightening treasures from you two. Thank you!!
Thank you! I am thankful for all the information that I learn here.
I don’t know why we still try to make things better. The writing was on the wall a long time ago. I finally read it in 2006, when the lines started to form for every little give-a-way – attendees crossing the line between participant members and audience members/free things seekers. I can’t believe that was 10 years ago… yet we’re still wondering what the fuck happened?
The entire demographic shifted – from happy anarchists to a variety of cultural marxists and appropriation of even just the previous generation’s aesthetic. So all of previous history of humanity wasn’t good enough, you fucking hipsters? You had to appropriate your parents’ culture, and vacuum up any meaning that it had (if any)?
I’m just glad I’ve always worn condoms. Let the brats have the event, maybe one of them will finally burn it into the ground like it deserves.
Go like this: https://vid.me/jLhu
And then like this: https://vid.me/PKiz
Thank you, burnersxxx, for all you have done in support of the Burner community. Might you imagine the beauty might two, or three, people get out of the way and permit the Burner community to lead, and build community, in the place of the Borg rubbish.
Might any Burner desire to participate in awesome Burner community events this weekend, the How Weird Street Faire of near to 40,000 people and ten Burner community stages is Sunday in San Francisco, and tickets are available for Further Future near to Las Vegas, and Boogaloo Music and Art Car festival near to Temecula, this weekend.
Easiest just to go elsewhere or create anew. After all, creating all from nothing each year is the premise of Burning Man. Let them have the name, hipsters and Davos-wannabees – keeps them from showing up somewhere else that we might be. Changing the Borg is the wrong type of pipe dream.
The best way to play the game:
Most people are playing with the second.
Keep writing dude; its important, needed and you are listened to….just like a conscience.
Michel On Apr 24, 2016 12:54 AM, “Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man” wrote:
> burnersxxx posted: “Yesterday I shared some of my personal Burning Man > stories. How I first got caught up in this thing. Even though Cargo Cult > was not so long ago, a lot has happened in my life since then. I have > tickets for this year, and my plan is to attend…if they'” >
Thank you! 🙂
Wanting to go to burning man and not being able to get tickets is been very frustrating for me I openly embrace the concept of burning Man and love art. Having spent my career working for a large corporation I do not trust the people in power and have always questioned authority. So this said I appreciate your blog and your honesty and we need to question authority !!! Money corrupts!
Let me suggest that control corrupts, and absolute control corrupts absolutely. That’s they way the game is played in a volunteer environment, which is why the volunteers have to be enfranchised in determining who is in control to keep their efforts. The Borg has done an end-run on enfranchisement, by offering precious tkts to get people to volunteer (sic).
For reference, at Transformus you have to get your tkt (in a sellout that is almost as quick) before you can volunteer.
“That’s they way the game is played in a volunteer environment, which is why the volunteers have to be enfranchised in determining who is in control to keep their efforts.”
This is the lesson the Borg experience has taught me. One of my volunteer organizations has lost my management-directed volunteer support (but not my dues); I still do volunteer things under my control that benefit other members. The other is getting more volunteer effort from me. Absent the Borg abuses we have discussed here the past few years, I doubt that I would have realized the difference.
You live and you learn: thank you Borg, for the bad example!