Thought Police: Don’t Call It A Festival

thought-police-framed-poster_24x36_wall_mockup_grande

thought policeYet another preachy Burnier-Than-Thou post at the BJ telling Burners they’re doing it wrong.

For all the things that Burning Man certainly is, one that mindful Burners will vigilantly note that Burning Man is not, is a festival.

The word “festival” encompasses a lot of ideas (film festivals, music festivals, taco festivals etc.) but usually it expresses a period of celebration. Burning Man contains some of the same ingredients, but it’s a totally different recipe. At Burning Man an effigy is raised and eventually burned, but the experience is accompanied as much by tears as by laughter.

Do we celebrate at Burning Man? Absolutely. Ask any Burner why they’re involved, though, and their response will often sound much more purposeful, like you might expect from a teenager running away to join the circus or a monk on a pilgrimage in a foreign land.

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Barf. Hate to break it to you, BMorg, but not everybody goes to Burning Man because they want to be a monk on a pilgrimage. Some go to have a great time, that is: entertainment. That is the product that is being offered here.

Hey, if the culture is suffering, it couldn’t be because of Caravansicle or VIP tickets or all the cool celebrities and 100+ licensed vendors on the Playa, or the luxury chopper flights for the Sheriff’s family to 18 course dinners, or BMorg starting their own private airline. These are all important parts of a circus for teenage runaways radical self-reliance and civic responsibility.

Cultural challenges can’t be because of the founders starting to celebrate their 70th birthdays. And there’s no way that a year-round organization of more than 100 full time staff dedicated to spreading the culture could be doing a bad job, because they all got together at Esalen and the GLC and told each other how great they are in a group hug. So that only leaves one group left to blame. We, The Burners. And if we could all just stop calling it a festival, then we wouldn’t have to radically include so many of those gosh darned ravers!

black rock helicopter da vinci

burner air express helicopter

Friends don’t let friends call Burning Man a festival? If that is true, then it proves that BMorg is no friend to Burning Man. Here’s their web site:

Screenshot 2017-04-12 09.59.27.png

“Burning Man isn’t your usual festival”. Makes is sound like it’s a festival, albeit an unusual one.

Here’s the trademark, part of the actual ownership of Burning Man which the founders did not transfer into the non-profit structure, instead creating a new company which earns revenues from licensing Burning Man’s intellectual property that they ironically named Decommodification, LLC.

Screenshot 2017-04-12 10.02.21

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That sure makes it sound like an art festival (with live entertainment). Seems pretty clear.

Burning Man’s press kit in 1995 described it thus:

an arts festival, a ritual sacrifice, a spiritual quest, and a post-modern carnival of the absurd” [Source: Burning Man archives, Bancroft Library]

This is also how it was seen by the Black Rock Arts Foundation, the charity non-profit pre-cursor to the Burning Man Project of today:

Screenshot 2017-04-12 15.37.41

Here’s Burning Man founder/owner Danger Ranger calling it a festival on their board of directors page at burningman.org:

Screenshot 2017-04-12 14.16.09.png

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And while we’re talking about the Board, we also have Burning Man Project Director Chip Conley and his site Fest300, which tracks the top 300 festivals in the world. Not only is Burning Man a permanent feature in this list, but so are several of its regional subsidiaries. If you look at the mix of the content on the site, Burning Man certainly gets far more coverage at this festival site run by a Burning Man director than any of the other 299 festivals.

In the original August 15, 1994 partnership agreement between Larry Harvey, John Law and Michael Mikel to form Paperman LLC and operate a business under the name Burning Man with its principal place of business in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, it is specifically called a festival:

[Source: Case 3:07-cv-00134-WHA Document 15-1 ]

In 1994, they had no problem making net profit from the sale of the Burning Man Festival videos:

Here’s some bragging from BM founder Harley Dubois that she knows a thing or two about how festivals run. Presumably completely irrelevant experience to Burning Man, since it’s not a festival. So why bother even mentioning it in the BJ?

As founder of Burning Man’s Community Services Department, she knows a thing or two about how festivals run…

“What a treat to be invited to Boom to sit on a panel with founders from other festivals.” [Source]

That sure sounds to me like someone who sees themselves as a founder of a festival.

A search for “festival” on Burning Man’s web site turns up 1130 articles. Sure, there are a few saying “we’re not a festival”, but that seems to be a more recent development.

Screenshot 2017-04-12 14.19.16.png

You can also read about the Burning Man festival in their academics and books about Burning Man sections.

For many years they have had no issues with Burning Man being described as a festival in TIME, Dezeen, Wikipedia, Bloomberg, NPR, Stubhub, ABC News, The Atlantic, Hollywood ReporterWall Street Journal , Washington Post, the New York Times…it would be easy to find more, but I think I’ve made my point.

Conclusion

It’s either

a) all these sources, including respected media publications, the founders and legal documents like the trademark registration, are in error and it’s not a festival. In which case Chip Conley needs to do the right thing and remove all references to Burning Man from his Fest300 site. Burning Man themselves need to say “it’s not a festival” on their web site, instead of “it’s not your usual festival”, and submit a new trademark application.

Or,

b) of course it’s a fucking festival. It’s a huge fuck-off party in the desert, with tons of stereo equipment and lasers and glowy shit. In which case this latest bullshit about “friends don’t let friends call it a festival” is simply more “social engineering” from BMorg, a minority group in Black Rock City who think they’re important and leading the way when in fact they are creating the problem. They are trying to keep the ravers out to clean up the city for their VIP spectators, and pointing fingers everywhere but the right direction. This battle was lost a long time ago. The ravers are part of the DNA of this “event”. Look elsewhere for the causes of your cultural decline.

As one commenter so aptly put it in the epic Burn.Life discussion,  the fish rots from the head down. Arguing semantics about such matters as if it’s a festival (after 30 years) or if hundreds of choreographed fire dancers and a multi-hour pyrotechnic show are live entertainment seems like pointless navel-gazing to me. What’s the deal with all these plug-n-plays and on-Playa vendors? What’s the vision for Fly Ranch? These are much more pressing issues that the Burner community would like to see addressed. Who cares if people want to Instagram their burn, so long as they pick up MOOP and be kind to one another. It’s 2017, most of the people at the festival never knew a time without Internet and cellphones. Let them call it anything they want, as long as they participate.

 

 

It Started in SF as a Jazz Group and Now it’s a Religion

An epic performance from Sammy Davis, Jr from the 1969 movie Sweet Charity looks very much like a precursor to Burning Man. He is a preacher, singing about his new church which is sweeping the nation. It contains so many elements that make it look familiar to Burners – art cars, furry sleeveless vests, indulgent principles, a satire on Judeo/Christian religion, acid culture, weed, Pied Piper…is that the Merry Prankster’s FURTHR bus lurking in the shadows? Hit the floor and crawl to Daddy!

At the time he made this, Sammy Davis Jr was in his prime. He was a member of the “Rat Pack” with Shirley Maclaine, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. They were also known as the “Clan” (presumably with a C not a K) or “The Summit”.

In addition, Sammy Davis, Jr just happened to be a celebrity superstar promoter of the Church of Satan – doing for Anton LaVey what Tom Cruise and John Travolta do today for the Church of Scientology. Blonde bombshell actress Jayne Mansfield, the Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian of her day, was another star Satanist.

Jayne Mansfield takes the "sacrament" from Anton LaVey

Jayne Mansfield takes the “sacrament” from Anton LaVey

Michael Aquino, Sammy Davis Jr, Anton Lavey. Image: VICE

Michael Aquino, Sammy Davis Jr, Anton Lavey. Image: VICE

Sammy starred in this 1973 TV series. Image: VICE

Sammy made a pilot in SF for this 1973 TV series. It was the plot of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in reverse. Image: VICE

 


As we explored in Shadow History Part 3 – Satan’s Birthday Party, there is almost no philosophical separation between scientism, satanism,  and the values of Burning Man. In Part 4 – Occult Rituals of the Cult we show how Burning Man’s own origins are from San Francisco’s occult scene, a nude beach about a block from the Church of Satan HQ, next to the Presidio Psyop Base (Part 2). Right after Burning Man moved to the desert, the Psyop HQ moved down to Moffett Field, home of Google, Yahoo, Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames, the Singularity University, and many other spooky proponents of transhumanism. The World Wide Web then sprang up around it and became the core of Silicon Valley, as we explored in Part 1 – The Shadow History of Silicon Valley.

Larry Harvey called Burning Man “a compelling physical analog for cyberspace”, in a 1997 Macworld “Digital Be-in” talk.

 


Dancing and Metamorphosis

Another video surfaced this week, which I posted on our Facebook Page. Apparently Walt Disney and Salvador Dali teamed up in 1945 to create a trippy surrealist desert adventure called “Destino”, based on a Mexican folk song.

Once again, we see similarities to Burning Man. Desert, mountains in the distance, cracked playa, bicycles, art cars…we have a lot of themes converging here. Humans merging with gods to create hybrid species; dancing through the wheel of time; dancing and metamorphosis, leading to love. It is dripping with occult symbolism, pyramids, all seeing eyes and so on.

Although Disney and Dalí did collaborate, most of this video was created much later. Still, it looks like Disney and Dalí imagined Burning Man in World War 2…yet another link into the vast occult empire which is Disney Corporation.

Once upon a time the Micky Mouse creator, Walt Disney, worked with the world’s most famous surrealist, Salvador Dali.
Dali was approached by Disney himself in 1945 to propose a collaborative film. Entitled “Destino”, the picture would be based upon a Mexican folk song of the same name, with the music played to accompany a sequence of Dali-designed animation. Destino is a fabled romance between Chronos, the personification of time, and a young mortal woman. The scenes blend a series of surreal paintings of Dali with dancing and metamorphosis
Walt Disney’s Destino was produced by Dali and John Hench (the Disney artist who did the storyboards) for 8 months between 1945 and 1946. Hench was described as a “ghostly figure” who knew better than Dali the secrets of the Disney film. For some time, the project remained a secret. 
But the film was eventually shelved due to WWII-era financial problems at Disney’s company. Dalí described the film as “a magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time” and Disney said it was “a simple story about a young girl in search of true love.”
However, some 54 years later, the development of Fantasia’s long-awaited sequel, Fantasia 2000, inspired Disney’s nephew, Roy, to finally revive the project. A team of French animators were brought on board to produce the six-minute film on the basis of Dali’s notes and storyboards. In 2003, his musical vision was released at long last

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World War 2 ended when Germany surrendered in May 1945 and the Japanese surrendered in August 1945. They were making the “notes and storyboards” for 8 months into 1946, which shows that the war had ended before this project even began.

What were the “secrets of the film” which Hench knew, but Dalí didn’t? Surely Dalí was the big name in this collaboration?

The work of painter Salvador Dali was to prepare a six-minute sequence combining animation with live dancers and special effects for a movie in the same format of “Fantasia.” The characters are fighting against time, the giant sundial that emerges from the great stone face of Jupiter and that determines the fate of all human novels. Dalí and Hench were creating a new animation technique, the cinematic equivalent of Dali’s “paranoid critique”…inspired by the work of Freud on the subconscious and the inclusion of hidden and double images.
The plot of the film was described by Dalí as “A magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time.”
Walt Disney said it was “A simple story about a young girl in search of true love.”

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Seems like all the usual stuff, mass media mind control, as above/so below, hidden images, black magick, the subconscious and the soul…

Dalí’s technique is more formally known as the Paranoid Critical Transformation Method, and is one of his biggest claims to fame.

Of all the Surrealists and their achievements, there is one that stands out above all the others. The Paranoiac Critical method was a sensibility, or way of perceiving reality that was developed by Salvador Dalí. It was defined by Dalí himself as “irrational knowledge” based on a “delirium of interpretation”. More simply put, it was a process by which the artist found new and unique ways to view the world around him. It is the ability of the artist or the viewer to perceive multiple images within the same configuration. The concept can be compared to Max Ernst’s frottage or Leonardo da Vinci’s scribbling and drawings. As a matter of fact, all of us have practiced the Paranoid Critical Method when gazing at stucco on a wall, or clouds in the sky, and seeing different shapes and visages therein. Dalí elevated this uniquely human characteristic into his own art form. 

Dalí, though not a true paranoid, was able to simulate a paranoid state, without the use of drugs, and upon his return to ‘normal perspective’ he would paint what he saw and envisioned therein.

Dalí was able to create what he called “hand painted dream photographs” which were physical, painted representations of the hallucinations and images he would see while in his paranoid state. Although he certainly had his own load of mental problems to bear, it can be said that Dalí’s delusions and paranoid hallucinations did not totally dominate his mind, as he was able to convey them to canvas. 
Image: Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Being a painter of miraculous skill, he was capable of reproducing his myriad fantasies and hallucinations as visual illusions on canvas.

 
It is in this context that one of Dalí’s most famous statements takes on a whole new meaning and understanding.
 
“The only difference between myself and a madman, is that I am not mad!”
 
In Dalí’s own words, taken from his Conquest of the Irrational:
 
“My whole ambition in the pictorial domain is to materialize the images of my concrete irrationality with the most imperialist fury of precision…”
 
He then goes on to say:
 
“Paranoiac-critical activity organizes and objectivizes in an exclusivist manner the limitless and unknown possibilities of the systematic association of subjective and objective ‘significance’ in the irrational…”
 
“..it makes the world of delirium pass onto the plane of reality” 
 

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Dalí was hallucinating, but without drugs. This is certainly possible – the psychiatric justification for the development of LSD and other suggestogens was to “mimic psychosis”. The name “psycheto-mimetics” was discarded as not marketable by Humprhey Osmond and Marshall McLuhan – the Madison Avenue PR guru who also came up with Timothy Leary’s famous “Tune In. Turn On. Drop Out” tagline (though Leary also claimed he came up with it in the shower after meeting McLuhan)

It’s also quite possible that Dalí was tripping on something and just didn’t promote it in media interviews.

Here’s the video set to Pink Floyd’s classic “Time” from Dark Side of the Moon:

 


Transformation and the Projects

The word “Transformation” sure seems to come up a lot in looking at this Presidio/Esalen/Disney/Stanford/Burning Man cluster. This week I discovered that Dr Michael Aquino’s MindWar concept was heavily influenced by Esalen’s Transformation Project think tank.

Burning Man director Chip Conley, whose ambition is to leverage massive amounts of exclusive Burning Man content to make Fest300 the Expedia of festivals, is a trustee of the Esalen Institute. Burning Man holds their corporate retreats there, and it appears to be the model for their Fly Ranch philosophy center plans. Esalen is the occult research base of DARPA. Aquino says they had better stuff than even the CIA or DIA:

 

Whose project was this in 1996, before Helco?

Whose project was this in 1996, before Helco?

 


Of course, there are other occult pop-culture influences on Burning Man, which we have covered over the years.

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Twilight Zone – The Burning Man

The Legend of Billy Jean starring Peter Coyote (Pat Benatar’s Invincible was the theme song)

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

“The Burning Man”, by Storm Thorgeson (1976)

"Burning Man", by Storm Thorgeson

 

 

Radical Sherpa Reliance

A look inside BMP Director Chip Conley’s ultra-luxury “top of the pyramid” camp, Maslowtopia. It’s based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and being the highest version of yourself you can be.

Looks like regular food safety violations going on amongst the multiple workers in their gourmet kitchen. All that money, and no-one could afford gloves?

Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, gave some insight into who Chip’s guests were:

My camp, called Maslowtopia and organized by famed hotelier Chip Conley (author of Peak), gathered a motley crew of around 100 all-stars from around the world, including incredible artists, organic chefs, and wise Fortune-100 co-founders…

One of those all-stars was an A-list entrepreneur and former top-tier investment banker. Trained at Harvard as a lawyer and forged into the consummate dealmaker, she had literally built economies from scratch

Hexayurt creator (and legendary Burner) Vinay Gupta tweeted a photo of the camp from the air:

image: Vijay Gupta/Twitpic

image: Vinay Gupta/Twitpic

Chip says he put the camp on for his 50th birthday in 2010, so presumably it was a gift and he doesn’t think he “lost money” on it like Jim Tananbaum says he did on Caravancicle.

The extensive credits at the end of the video certainly suggest a large contingent of paid help. Is it Radical Self Reliance if you hire an event production company, catering firm, a team of sherpas to build your camp for you, and a videographer to professionally record the experience? Is it Decommodification if the companies involved promote their Participation in their subsequent online marketing?

 

maslow cartoon