Larry Harvey and I were onstage together in 2000 as part of a panel discussion at SOMARTS in San Francisco’s SOMA District. The event was called Webzine. Everyone in the panel was Gen X and some sort of web developer or coder, except for Larry. I was in my early 30s and Larry had to have been in his early 50s. He was there because he was an influencer, a voice of the counterculture. I had worked with Larry from 1992-1996 on the Burning Man Festival (Larry did proudly call it a “Festival” back then) but I had quit working on BM in 1996, when someone died on the playa, multiple others were badly injured and there were numerous arrests. Larry and I remained cordial, he was always a valuable friend and mentor. Larry obviously carried on and the Burning Man legacy continues.
During the panel discussion, we fielded many questions from the audience, largely about the role of early internet corporations such as Yahoo!. This was before google, facebook and today’s internet giants, in an era when much of the internet was still being built by small design firms and ad hoc coalitions of mercenary contractors such as myself. Larry- who didn’t write code- was a brilliant intellectual, cultural engineer and visionary, and he made a statement on that panel that still rings true in my head today. Larry had the audacity to say to a large audience of young, independent creative people in an art gallery in San Francisco that corporations were not bad. In essence, Harvey explained that you didn’t want to be milling the rubber for your own tires, or soldering together circuit boards for your own computer. Words of wisdom.
It was still a few years before Harvey introduced the 10 Principles to the Burner community. “Radical Self-reliance” is one of those principles. Looking back at the context of the mid-90s, San Francisco- which spawned Burning Man- was a beacon for DIY culture. The 1995 film ‘Tank Girl’ felt like it was about my friends.
SOMA was home to young women with nose piercings who’d be chain smoking while fixing their motorcycle, talking about wanting to go to welding classes- and crudely painting things in garish colors with their spiky hair in disarray- while wearing grimy paint-stained coveralls. I miss that nuts and bolts era, years before everyone was glued to their phones. Even at the 2000-era Webzine conference, the community there was hand coding its own web sites, DIY in full effect. But there’s reasonable limits to DIY. For example, we were able to figure out how to rent a generator from a construction supply company, cart it out to the Black Rock Desert with enough fuel to run some lights or sound system or coffee maker or whatever we wanted out there for a few days. For the most part- I can’t speak for everybody, because there were crazy Tesla coils being trucked out there back then- most of us had no interest in building our own generator, or processing our own fuel. Radical self-reliance wasn’t entirely literal. Larry didn’t design or weld together his own Airstream trailer, or hand-stitch his own trademark Guayabera shirts.
It’s important to realize that the 10 Principles are not Burning Man’s actual rules. Rules are things like ‘no dogs’ or ‘no firearms’. There were almost no rules in the early days on the playa, and there are pages and pages of rules now. Without rules, Black Rock City could not exist at today’s scale. In my opinion, Larry drafted the 10 Principles to try and explain- Larry was quite an explainer- shared cultural values that had become common among a good number of- but not necessarily all- Burners, based on years of shared communal experience.
Today’s Burners can be an odd set of internet trolls- myself included- and it’s hard to make sense of all the snarky comments and jokes online about bacon or sparkle ponies and so on. “Radical Self-reliance” has become a weaponized keyboard warrior shout down directed at classes of burners who are perceived to be ‘doing it wrong’ by the “Burnier than thou” types. /eyeroll. When I first went out to the Black Rock Desert, we had no idea that we’d need goggles. People would do stuff like take a nap on the playa surface in the midday sun. There were lots of errors in the trial and error. But the beauty of shared wisdom and interaction helped create this enormous culture. So to all of you zealots who keep repeating “Radical Self-reliance” without thinking it through, do you really want to go to the playa and spend the whole week camping by yourself, without saying a word, saving all your own fecal and urine waste and dutifully carrying it back home in your vehicle? Of course not. Actually, it would be cool performance art if you did.
But the point I’m making is that it’s okay to realize that in a city of 70,000 people there are folks who are going to highly specialize in what they can offer to the city. It’s okay to eat food prepared and paid for by someone else for example. Or to experience art that you didn’t make yourself. As Larry said, you don’t need to mill the rubber for your own tires or solder your own circuit boards. If you did, that’s great too, go for it.
“Immediacy” has to be my favorite of the ten principles, especially in how it relates to the default world. Harvey used to explain that when people would go out to the void of the Black Rock Desert, people’s true essence would shine out of them, because there were no other reference points, it was an authentic experience, you saw people for what they really were when we were “Out There.” There were no cell phone towers anywhere back then, and certainly not on the playa. Today’s world is this crazed media-fueled monster. Stuff that happens thousands of miles away to people we don’t know and will never meet suddenly becomes instant narrative with cultural battle lines being drawn out over every minor detail, true or not true, it doesn’t matter. This world we inhabit today can be as far from actual “Immediacy” as possible, it’s not based on our actual individual experience right in front of us.
I’m going to argue that Larry missed a few principles. “Gifting” probably could be interpreted to include the Burner slogan “The Playa Provides.” But “The Playa Provides” would be a great 11th principle. The last time I was on the playa in 2017, my favorite incident was as follows: I had befriended a Cigar Camp and was sitting in the shade smoking one of their fine gifted cigars, watching people walk and ride by. It’s got to be 105 out in the sun. A young, slight woman trudges by, her skin burning hot, she’s out of breath, on the edge of tears, dragging her playa bike behind her with considerable effort. “Hey hey hey” I yell at her, “you need to get out of the sun! Did you ride your bike behind the water truck?” She nodded yes and looks like she’s about to cry in frustration. Sure enough- a burgin- she rode her playa bike behind a water truck, and as the wet playa mud dried and hardened, her bike seized up and was unrideable. We get her into the shade, tell her she should rest a bit, get her some water or a beer or soda or something.
Communicating to the camp mates there, we are able to retrieve a screwdriver, a chisel, some water, some WD-40. We show the young woman how to remove the hardened playa from her bike. Eventually and with considerable effort on her part, it’s in fine running order, she’s cooled off and happily rides away. I can’t remember her name, Australian. Anyway, that vignette sums up ‘gifting’ and ‘the Playa Provides.’ It wasn’t some pre-meditated intention, it was a spontaneous episode that showed how great people can be when we truly need some help to get by. Immediacy.
Let’s go back to Webzine in SOMA in 2000. I was booked to DJ the end of the event, and a reporter from a TV station in Holland was out to see me play. But my set was cancelled, as Survival Research Labs set off a jet engine in the adjacent parking lot next to SOMARTS, shaking the geiger counter, it was like a terrorist attack, event immediately over. This sort of hazing from older artists was normal back in the day. SRL I think was quite pleased to deliberately show up all these young web coder kids and shut down a ‘rave’. SRL to this day is amazing and awesome, and their vibe very much corresponds to the early SF Burner ethos- hardcore industrial anarchist pranksters- all the respect possible to this tribe.
Connecting this to the Burner timeline, I was part of the first DJ camps at Burning Man from 1992-1996, and I would say that other than the main trio of BM organizers then, namely: Larry Harvey, John Law and Michael Mikel, the other older Burners as a whole typically hated our musical contribution, treated us like pariahs and blamed us ‘ravers’ for just about everything possible that went wrong.
Let’s go back to the concept of immediacy. If you’ve followed the Burner culture this offseason, news stories have been published as far and wide as the New York Times and BBC talking about official new Burning Man policies against a certain camp- friends of mine- who were singled out and named by name by the official CEO of the org itself, who is also my friend. No one was killed or injured or arrested, as happens now every year at Burning Man. And then hundreds if not thousands of people starting chiming in online in gleeful accord against the new ‘bad’ guys camp because of the news articles flying around. We’re half way around the sun from the burn, and people are openly dissing a camp they’ve never visited or experienced, spewing random heresay, speculation, falsehoods and slander, based on their own biases, prejudices and tilted belief systems. This is as far from immediacy as possible you people, get a freaking clue.
This one camp has been blamed for just about every crime possible against core Burner values, despite their insisting on adherence to the 10 Principles and putting their blood, sweat and tears into their inspired and meticulously planned camps like everyone else. Reading comments from people online who claim to hate this camp after allegedly camping near them, I can’t help but think, why couldn’t you befriend this camp and enjoy the burn with them? I certainly did when they were my burgin neighbors back in 2016! Or if things were going bad for them, why didn’t you help your neighbors in the moment instead of heaping scorn on them on the internet half a year later? WTF. Even worse, I can’t help but take this whole episode of hating on one camp personally, as BM has a long history of blaming people for “ruining” Burning Man. [link]
I am- with my early 90s campmates- very high up on this list of ruining the early years and subsequent trajectory of the ‘festival’ which is no longer officially called a ‘festival’ anymore. To be clear, the org doesn’t owe anyone anything and they can determine whichever camps they choose to work with or not work with, that’s up to them, right or wrong, good or bad, arbitrary or not. If it was up to me, the org would never publicly shame a group by name for failure or errors, myriad or minor, deliberate or accidental. But that’s not my decision to make. We’ve just witnessed the ferocious power of the mainstream news media permanently destroying the reputation of a specific Burning Man camp. We’ve come so far… but for this?
I somehow feel like Emmanuel Goldstein from Orwell’s 1984 as I type, a historical early adopter turned outcast dooming themselves to eternal damnation for speaking up against the controlling regime. I’m not sure I’m ever welcome again in Black Rock City, home to 70,000 people. I would be scared to show my face in First Camp now that Larry has passed, as they are well known to aggressively boot interlopers, random wanderers and unescorted guests out of their space, where guest chefs prepare amazing gourmet meals with the finest ingredients for the anointed hand-picked intelligentsia. The real missing 11th Principle is “Conform or be Cast Out.” Toe the line or else! You will be ostracized! All you Instagram models better dress exactly like all the other Instagram models in perfect Burner costume, or you’ll get singled out and attacked for doing it wrong! Conform or die! Hmpf.
About the storyteller:
Terbo Ted first visited the Black Rock Desert in 1992 when there was no gate, no perimeter, no road, no trash fence and you could drive your car as fast as you wanted in any direction. Terbo was the first DJ to play in Black Rock City, with no one there to hear his set on a dusty Friday afternoon. Later, in the early years he was the only one ever to be called “Mayor of the Techno Ghetto.” His playa self and default world self can be remarkably similar these days.
A fascinating new documentary created for the BBC iPlayer video platform features some great footage of a young John Perry Barlow. It traces the last 40 years of history through a counter-cultural lens.
“You were so much a part of the system that it was impossible to see beyond it…the fakeness was hypernormal”
Facebook is censoring this post, and some email subscribers had problems opening it, so this is a re-post with some images removed. Here’s the NSFW original.
A year ago psychedelic luminary Daniel Pinchbeck published a widely discussed article “Why I Am Not Going To Burning Man This Year”. He bashed the event’s destructive waste and hypocrisy about environmental values, and made it OK for some of the cool kids to take a year off:
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 festival expanded my sense of what art was and could be. It rewired my sense of what human beings are capable of. The shock has been permanent—my desire for more of it remains addictive.
Did somebody get to Daniel?
His previous article caused some problems at BMHQ. It triggered Ryan Kushner to petition Burning Man to live up to its “Leave No Trace” ethic. Only 1138 people cared. BMorg responded with a December 2015 post entitled Sustainability: The Next Chapter , which followed their classic propaganda template: 1. blame others, 2. say you’re taking the concerns very seriously, 3. promise something “coming soon”:
The Change.org petition incorrectly claimed that Cooling Man (2007) was the last time an emissions analysis was done for Burning Man…The 2012-2016 Burning Man EA, which considers a BRC population of 58,000-70,000 participants, conducted a thorough analysis of air quality emissions. You can read it here. It’s a public document...an extensive quantitative analysis was deemed unnecessary and not conducted…
There are choices to make about how we burn, and how we get to and from Black Rock City that will determine our future carbon footprint. So what happens now? Black Rock Solar and Burning Man staff are exploring ways we can help our organization and our participants learn about and invest in both decarbonized or carbon-neutral power solutions and meaningful offsets for carbon emissions we cannot reduce.
We look forward to working together with participants on this important issue. Stay tuned for more to come.
We’ve stayed tuned the whole year, but BMorg don’t seem to have done much about it. They seem more concerned about determining which gender and race Burners identify with and if they swing, than they are about reducing our environmental footprint. I haven’t heard any plans for a trash incinerator or recycling depot at Flysalen. Black Rock Solar was a noble effort, but seems to have gone very quiet since being re-assimilated into the Borg. They reduced the number of vehicle passes, but doubled their price. Exodus times didn’t get any shorter, the roads didn’t get any better, and there are still piles of trash on highways. BMOrg made a definitive choice about our carbon footprint: to start their own airline, with a goal of larger aircraft landing every 7 minutes full of new tourists passengers.
[Note: to all the Plug-N-Players enticed to the offsite hotsprings for special treatment – beware paparazzi! Black Rock City has strict camera and intellectual property policies, but Flysalen has nothing of the sort:
They get you naked, take photos, then threaten you if you say something They don’t like. We’re making the world a better place!]
Daniel Pinchbeck tried to launch Burning Man into the commercial art world in 2003.
For a long time, the critical establishment and tastemakers of the mainstream art world in New York and Europe refused to take Burning Man seriously as an art movement. They still tend to scoff at it, dismissing the works created for the event as a kind of folk art. Seeking to bridge this gap in understanding, I wrote a feature for Artforum on Burning Man back in 2003……At the time it was published, my Artforum piece seemingly ruffled some feathers in the art world. I was friends with the magazine’s editor at the time, Tim Griffin. We used to play basketball together on weekends. He was enthusiastic about my article when I wrote it. After it came out, silence. I can only assume that critics, dealers, and collectors had filed complaints; perhaps it wasn’t okay to give Burning Man the credence of a place in the art world’s own monthly bible.
As it turns out, he still loves Burning Man…he just needed to find a way to tie it into his latest book:
Last year when I skipped Burning Man, I wrote a controversial piece considering how the event has changed as it keeps growing, becoming ever-more successful and attractive to wealthy influencers and the global jet set. The focus of that piece is also the focus of my forthcoming book, How Soon Is Now?
Now, perhaps with another book on the way, Artsy sent him back to re-investigate:
In last year’s piece (or petulant outburst), I wrote: “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)”…
This year…I intend to deepen my exploration of the impact of the event as a global art movement and a transformative cultural force. My deeper curiosity continues to focus on the question of whether Burning Man is part of a shift toward a more compassionate, equitable, generous, and ecologically sane planetary culture—or if it is a last gasp of hedonistic abandon before we wipe ourselves out.
These days the Burning Man 2.0 narrative is tightly controlled with confidentiality agreements. We really don’t know much about what’s been going on with the year-round organization. Less talk, no action. Why haven’t we heard about the wonderful accomplishments of The Burning Man Project? It’s 3 years and $100 million+ since the transition to a non-profit became official. How are we changing the world after all the tax savings and profit re-distribution? The Project employs 100+ people year round, to produce a crowd-sourced event one week every year with no entertainment, catering, or marketing. The Minister of Propaganda has not been publicly replaced – has anybody heard anything about Maker Faire, BTW? We know that Burners Without Borders gifted $4000 to help 8 projects in the Philippines – a generous 6 vehicle passes per project.
Check their site and you’ll see that they’re still going on with the White Ocean bollocks, all based on a Facebook claim debunked by the police who said a report was not even filed. Apparently a board member’s camp got trashed too. Shouldn’t they be talking about the guy from Utah with the attempted murder, or the report of a man trying to kidnap a 10 year old boy? We need to keep violent criminals and pedophiles out of our community. Not ravers with international DJs, supermodels and fleets of private jets – they are not the enemy.
The full spectrum media putsch petered out once $6.5 million in donations were raised and a bunch of rich tech dudes bought Flysalen for Them us. We have to rely on flowery talks and speculation from outsiders to glean clues about what They’re we’re doing there. It seems like the plan of no plan.
The style of no style…it worked for this guy. Until he mysteriously dropped dead.
It’s gone from A Big Farce to A Big Mystery. Lucky we get the occasional quasi-celebrity counter-cultural guru to tell the media about how Transformational™ Burning Man is.
Buckle up, ’cause we’re gonna take a long, strange, shadowy trip.
Let’s talk about this Artsy article first.
Artwork That Celebrates Our High-EST Potential
Mr Pinchbeck was quick to brush off his prior disdain for the event:
Despite some concerns about the future direction of the gathering, I still consider Burning Man the greatest cultural movement of our time. This may seem like a strange thing to say about an event that routinely gets dismissed as a hedonistic, drug-saturated, glorified rave. Wagner talked about the “great United Art-work” as “the instinctive and associate product of the Manhood of the Future.” There was—and still is—something peculiarly futuristic, as well as operatic, about Burning Man. It reveals how permeable human nature is and how quickly people will transform when given the opportunity to be part of something new and better. The total context of an environment where people are liberated from commercial transactions, and given license to share their gifts, express their full individuality, and be inclusive toward others has a transformative impact. It also creates a unique context for artwork that celebrates our highest potential—at the cost, perhaps, of some critical distance and discernment.
I could see “The Manhood of the Future” being a popular art car in Black Rock City. Artwork that celebrates our highest potential? He’s talking about the same Burning Man, right?
The Mysteries of Burning Man
The Burning Man party line being pushed by Mr Pinchbeck was also the theme of the Beats and the Merry Pranksters, the Happenings and Situations and Be-Ins from be-fore.
The focus of Burning Man art is collective enjoyment, rather than removed aesthetic judgment. But the pedigree of Burning Man art does, however, encompass ’60s Happenings—performed by artists like Allan Kaprow, John Cage, and Carolee Schneeman—Dada, Surrealism, and Pop Art. It is also informed by the human-potential movement, which is centered in Northern California. Many of the early founders of Burning Man belonged to the San Francisco-based Cacophony Society, which mingled post-punk aesthetics and prankster humor, with a tinge of hipster nihilism. The Bay Area is a haven for experiments with personal identity and sexuality, including transgender identities, queerness, BDSM, and kink. These areas remain a focus for many in the Burner community.
The success of Burning Man reveals a familiar pattern of cultural assimilation. As with Beat poetry in the 1950s or punk rock in the 1970s, what was once the expression of a small group of outsider artists and provocateurs gets integrated into the cultural mainstream. In the end, countercultures tend to prop up and support the commercial society, creating new styles and trends that can be sold to the masses even as they influence the mass consciousness.
In its own way, Burning Man threatens to become something of a countercultural Walt Disney World, albeit one with anti-authoritarian values that inspires people to step into the frame as artists and participants.
It is not clear how “influencing the mass consciousness” occurs at an event limited to 70,000 people for one week in a remote location. It’s not like the 70,000 people all meet each other – Burning Man is cosy microcosms and random convergences, rather than one big stage with a few break-out sessions. The bazaar, not the cathedral.
Like Larry HarveyDarryl van Rhey before him, Daniel Pinchbeck connects Burning Man to the Eleusian mysteries.
Burning Man also represents a cultural edge-space where art, entertainment, and spectacle cross back over toward their original roots in ritual, ceremony, and religion. This is something that is difficult to talk about without inviting ridicule. As a unified artwork or social sculpture defined by a set of 10 principles (“Leave no trace,” “radical inclusion,” “gifting,” “decommodification,” and so on), Burning Man functions in the lives of its regular visitors as a ritual, an annual pilgrimage—a ceremony that celebrates the turning of the year,the recreation and transformation of the self, and the mystery of existence itself. Such events were known throughout the ancient world. Most famously, the Eleusinian Mysteries in Ancient Greece was an annual gathering for all of the luminaries of the Classical World that lasted for 1,500 or more years, only coming to an end in the 4th century A.D. at the behest of Christian Roman emperor Theodosius. Burning Man seems an organic return to these archaic mystery traditions, but in an American grain.
As for entertainment’s original roots in religion and ritual ceremony: has he not heard of the world’s oldest profession? We had entertainers before we had wizards.
If we are placing Burning Man in an historical ritual and cultural context, then the Wicker Man part of the ceremony needs mentioning. Such events were definitely known throughout the ancient world, Julius Caesar wrote about the Druids in 54 BC. Nicholas Cage starred in a recent movie The Wicker Man, so this is known in modern times too. Is Mr Pinchbeck ignorant of this, despite 15 burns? What are we there for: the lamplighters and Crimson Rose’s fire magick, or burning a giant effigy of The Man? It’s not called “Crimson Dance”.
In considering Burning Man as a cultural movement, we should talk about St Bartholomew’s fair, a festival of a jester that took place in London at the same time of year as Burning Man for more than 700 years. Its mixture of art, activities, debauchery, and a freak show “rhymes with Burning Man” much more than the highly controlled Eleusinian rites, which most people only got to experience once in a lifetime.
For some reason it is always this Ancient Mystery cult that They want to link Burning Man to. Population control with drugs and mysticism by an un-elected ruling group. That’s the important heritage that makes this the greatest cultural movement of our time. Not the ritual burning of a wooden effigy inside a pentagram, or an annual experiment in new forms of civilization.
The recreation of the Rites of Eleusis was a specific goal of the bankster promoter of suggestogens Gordon Wasson, and Warburg banking empire chemist Albert Hofmann. It was also the title of a controversial play put on by arch-Satanist intelligence agent Aleister Crowley in London before World War I.
The thinking behind this is covered in more depth in our Shadow History series; basically, the idea of Eleusis was to dose the whole population to make them docile. It worked for more than 2000 years in Ancient Greece.
the Mysteries were intended “to elevate man above the human sphere into the divine and to assure his redemption by making him a god and so conferring immortality upon him…
This idea of creating our own gods is preached at the Church of Satan, as well as Burning Man’s leadership conferences:
God made Man in His image. Then Man Google made Pokemons, in the image of Demons. And invited us to merge our brains with Them, while Burning Man offered us contracts to sell Them our souls…ah, transhumanism. Gotta love it. Just see the Terminator! The Singularity’s gonna be swell. All those military robots are out there hunting for the last remnants of humans, who did not connect their brains into the Google Matrix to live forever chasing Pokemons. But I digress…
A Pleasure Based Society
Like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, Daniel Pinchbeck became famous for his hedonistic sexual exploits. At least, that’s how I heard of the guy…
For the last few years, I have been exploring the nature of sexuality, love, and relationships, both personally and philosophically. When I separated from my last partner, I realized that I did not feel that monogamy was working for me as a model. Yet I also knew that I craved long-lasting, deep, and sustainable relationships. Since then, I have sought to reconcile my conflicting yearnings, and wondered if other models of relationships are possible or desirable.
Just as we are undergoing a second stage of the process of shamanic initiation that was curtailed at the end of the 1960s, we have entered a wiser and more integrated phase of the Sexual Revolution that crested thirty-five years ago. A more conscious approach to erotic relationships requires a sympathetic awareness of the differences between men and women, and an acceptance of individual distinctions as well. In the 1950s, the scandalous Kinsey Report on human sexuality revealed the vast variety of human sexual experience, and showed that a huge number of people sought intimate contact outside of the confines of their marital relationships. The opening of sexuality in the 1960s led to deflationary decadence in the disco culture of the 1970s, and a pop cultural ambience of constant stimulation and insatiation that the philosopher Herbert Marcuse called “repressive desublimation.”
Kinsey was a pedophile disciple of Aleister Crowley…but let’s not get sidetracked.
Before Quetzlcoatl’s 2012 return, Daniel Pinchbeck went on a long Facebook rant about how we are descended from apes (despite no missing link to validate Darwin’s theories) and that means that the women should fuck everyone in the tribe and may the best sperm win:
I don’t believe that the system of conscripted monogamy as it exists now will be part of our future condition – some people will naturally choose it or gravitate toward it, but it will not be imposed on us or accepted as the norm. There won’t be any stigma to it, of course, and some people will be so constructed that it is deeply satisfying and good for them – or for many of us to explore during long periods of our lives. In general, when you look at the origin of human sexuality, it seems in all likelihood it was communal, much like we find with the bonobos.
Everyone screws everyone. Good luck with that, from a social, evolutionary, and public health perspective. Did he come up with this on an acid trip at the Orgy Dome?
This is the Officially Sanctioned Voice of Burning Man, perhaps doing damage control after our Census post. Promoting sexual degeneracy, shamanism, psychedelics, and the 2012 return of an Aztec god does seem to fit right into the Templeton Project’s Transformation Study…YMMV.
Daniel Pinchbeck is the guy probably most responsible for kicking off the idea that some great transformation is going to occur in 2012. In his book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, he claims to have received “transmissions” from the Mayan deity Quetzalcoatl telling him about this momentous event. An excerpt from these transmissions:
The writer of this work [i.e., Pinchbeck] is the vehicle of my arrival — my return — to this realm. He certainly did not expect this to be the case. What began as a quest to understand prophecy has become the fulfillment of prophecy. The vehicle of my arrival has been brought to an awareness of his situation in sometimes painful increments and stages of resistance — and this books follows the evolution of his learning process, as an aid to the reader’s understanding.
The vehicle of my arrival had to learn to follow synchonicities, embrace paradoxes, and solve puzzles. He had to enter into a new way of thinking about time and space and consciousness.
Almost apologetically, the vehicle notes that his birthday fell in June 1966 — 6/66 — “count the number of the Beast: for it is the number of the man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”
The Beast prophesied is the “feathered serpent,” Quetzalcoatl. [Pinchbeck, 2012 p. 370]
Because these “revelations” came after many years of heavy experimentation with substances like psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, ayahuasca, iboga, and DPT, [Grigoriadis] Pinchbeck is sometimes described as a modern-day Timothy Leary or Terence McKenna. But from the evidence above, a modern-day Aleister Crowley seems a better comparison — complete with voices “channeled” from “higher powers” which name him as their special agent on Earth, identification with “the Beast”, and a wonderful degree of apophenia.[*]
Your average Psychonaut doesn’t have the resources or self-discipline to create social network technology as well as writing books, blogging, giving TED talks and partying all over the world. Perhaps Mr Pinchbeck is a super-blogger with beaucoup bucks behind his hobby; or perhaps he has some sub rosa help with these projects. If there was ever a place for secret agencies funding secret projects, it’s Virginia-Maryland, with the special Permanent Autonomous Zone the District of Columbia in between.
Daniel Pinchbeck’s Mom is another active public critic of “family values”, likening them to the dreaded “Fifties”. This oppressive time of nuclear families and white picket fences was all shook up by Chuck Berry and “Elvis the Pelvis”. This was reconstructed in the UK as Mods and Rockers, which morphed into the Beat-les and the Rolling Stones, two weapons of mass cultural debasement launched upon the world in what was openly called The British Invasion. Britain has a long history of ruling its far flung empire through Drug Wars and social engineering, as it showed in both India and China through the privately held British East India Company and its state-sanctioned piracy, slavery, and drug trafficking. If you think this operation shut down with the Sixties, scan the radio and see how long it is before you hear a song from any of these bands. Go to Burning Man and see if you can find anyone on LSD or magic mushrooms. Sex drugs and rock-n-roll – the Crowleyan counter-culture, designed by Satanists to turn others into Satanists – is in full swing.
History repeats. We had the orgiastic decadence of Caligula, leading to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. We had the Weimar Republic, leather and bondage and burlesque and bisexuality and promiscuity. Berlin had opium, amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, mescaline, peyote…even LSD. The elite members of secret societies and the wealthy set were doing it all. And then we got the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler and the National Socialists, the ghettos and the concentration camps.
This is the model throughout history. They build a civilization up, lurking behind the scenes, pushing the window of tolerance as far as They can. Then the Satanists come out, showing their hand in all their disgusting glory. The world revolts, and it all burns up in flames. Civilization is destroyed; feudalism prevails. Liberty takes centuries to restore. Eat, sleep, rave, repeat.
A New Dark Age is the goal of the eugenicists and social engineers. Merge with computers and you no longer need your organic body. We don’t need to take up space on the earth, since it is all just an illusion anyway. The real world is a computer simulation, so you might as well just join virtual reality. You might have noticed this meme being promoted lately, from Billionaire Burner Elon Musk to Stephen Hawking. Last year, both those guys were saying “we should be afraid of artificial intelligence”. Musk likened it to summoning a demon in a pentagram.
Nothing to worry about, it’s all just software. Nothing is real, everything is illusion, even truth. You will hear this message a lot from the Satanists and Social Engineers that are using Burning Man as a tool to transform society in their desired image.
Burning With The Beats
The Artsy editorial links Burning Man to the occultist Beat Generation and the Great Work of Man, a major concept in Freemasonry.
This is not a casual connection, and nor is Mr Pinchbeck a casual connector. As a young boy in New York, he grew up with Allen Ginsberg and CIA Assassin William S Burroughs dropping by the house. His mother, Joyce Glassman Johnson, was a member of the New York Beat Scene. She had a love affair with Jack Kerouac right when he was becoming famous for On The Road, after being set up on a blind date with him by Ginsberg. She wrote a bestseller about the 2-year relationship:
Like Mr Pinchbeck, the Beats were bi-coastal. The West Coast scene was based in the Bay Area, particularly around Bohemian book stores City Lights in North Beach and Kepler’s in Palo Alto. City Lights owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg were frequent guests at Esalen. Ginsberg and Trans-Continental Kool Aid bus driver Neal Cassady became part of the Merry Prankster scene that emerged at Camp Fremont, the military sub-section of Stanford – Perry Avenue, or as it is more commonly known “Perry Lane”. The Beats gave some “street cred” to the mixture of decorated soldiers and defense contractors getting drugs and equipment from the Stanford Research Institute that spawned the Pranksters, The Grateful Dead, and more recently, Burning Man and Google.
In 2010 Daniel Pinchbeck promoted Aldous Huxley at Colorado’s Naropa University, beloved of Ginsberg and the Beats.
Joyce Glassman Pinchbeck Johnson taught at the New School for Social Research – also known as the Frankfurt School. This is ground zero for social engineering, so it’s no wonder that the Social Engineers of BMOrg want Daniel speaking for them, not against them.
Progressive economist Thorsten Verblen was part of the New School. He was also one of the original Bohemians at Perry Lane, known at Stanford as The Naughty Professor. Veblen is one of several characters who pop up in both the New York scene (centered around Columbia University and Greenwich Village), and the Perry Lane scene (Stanford).
Neal Cassady. Image: Pinterest
A key cross-generational bridge between the Beats and the Pranksters was bus driver Neal Cassady. He was one of Brierly’s boys, as was Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine. Denver educator Justin Brierly helped Judge Benjamin Barr Lindsey burn the personal letters and records of thousands of troubled young children in the 1920’s, officially to keep them out of the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. Lindsey was a “sexual reformer” and promoter of promiscuity, who created the Juvenile Court System then got chased out of Colorado for California. The never-married Brierly took promising (and, coincidentally, handsome) young men under his wing, and recommended them for Ivy League futures. He met Cassady at 15, and later introduced him at Columbia to Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs, of the Burroughs Computers family.
Another guy popping up in both West and East Coast Beat scenes is the Pentagon’s Stewart Burrows Brand, the Army’s most senior photographer, who we find running around the Acid Tests with a military strobe light. He left Stanford’s ROTC program with a degree in biology and anthropology, and headed to Fort Dix New Jersey to train recruits. He used to hang out in the New York scene on the weekend, visiting Timothy Leary at the Millbrook Castle where CIA director Richard Helms reported every week to international financier Billy Mellon Hitchcock. 19-year old student in comparative religion John Perry Barlow was a regular at Millbrook too, when not seducing co-eds with poetry and a motorbike.
Stewart Brand learned his pioneering innovation of projection and trippy lights from the New York USCO team, who were in cahoots with both the Bauhaus and Frankfurt School Germans relocated before World War 2 broke out. They were connected to the scene around Black Mountain College in North Carolina. The infamous composer John Cage shows up there, and also in the Bay Area as music teacher at Mills College, Stanford’s women-only sister school in the East Bay . He was succeeded there by Phil Lesh, before the latter’s recruitment into the Grateful Dead as a bass player – an instrument he had never played before, but taught himself in an hour.
Brand sees a clear connection between the Beats, the Pranksters, and the Burners:
“Probably the most visible and influential continuation of counterculture is Burning Man. It has all sorts of remarkable qualities, one of which continues the premise of Ken Kesey’s acid tests: put together a bunch of creative people and a minimum of rules, and everybody generates as nifty a party as they possibly can.”
Err, you forgot the LSD, Stewart. The Kool Aid was spiked. The thousands of hippies at the Trips Festival were not taking actual trips. It’s a metaphor. Surely a guy who can build a clock that runs for tens of thousands of years and is bringing back the Woolly Mammoth is aware that these people were on drugs!!! Brand himself claims to have invented the signature “earth from space” image on the cover of the Whole Earth Catalog while on an acid trip in SF.
Stewart Brand also said:
“Burning Man, they have surpassed in every way the various things we were attempting with the Acid Tests and the Trips Festival, Burning Man has realized with such depth and thoroughness and ongoing originality and ability to scale and minimalist rules, but enough rules that you can function, and all the things we were farting around with, Larry Harvey has really pulled off. I don’t think that would have come to pass without going through whatever that spectrum of the ’60s was, the prism of the ’60s, the spectrum of bright colors that we espoused for a while. It all got exacerbated by the Internet and sequence of computer-related booms, but I think it flavored a whole lot of the basic nature of Burning Man. Its Hellenism was replaced by Hellenistic Period, driven out by Alexandria and that was basically better. I think that’s to some extent true in this case.”
At the Macy Conferences in New York pioneers of computers and mind control, hypnotists, psychiatrists, and anthropologists got together to design the modern electronic control grid and “painless concentration camp for the mind” that was described in Brave New World (1932) and 1984 (1948)…and the books they plagiarized We (1924) and The Scientific Outlook (1931).
Eric Trist was a leader of the Tavistock Institute who developed psychiatric profiling tests for the military. In 1961 he spent a year as a Fellow at Stanford’s Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences (an offshoot of Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study).
“Think, Drink , and Be Merry” was Stanford CASBS’s theme the year Eric Trist was there
Dr Eric Trist’s son Alan, who grew up on J P Morgan’s country estate, came straight from the Beat Hotel in Paris to Kepler’s in Palo Alto. He arrived at exactly the right time to drive Jerry Garcia (Army) and Robert Hunter (National Guard, Scientology) to see Animal Farm. Hunter had advised his stepfather on publishing the children’s edition.
They never made it to the movie. Instead Trist helped them put the Grateful Dead together, then gave Daddy anthropological reports on their progress.
In the official version of Grateful Dead history, Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, and Phil Lesh were all hanging out in Palo Alto one day smoking DMT and trying to come up with a name for their band. They had played at the Acid tests as “the Warlocks”, with another band at the opposite side of the room “The Witches”. But the Warlocks was taken.
“It was a grey stormy blowy day in old Palo Alto, and we were hanging out at Phil’s house, smoking DMT, and we had just found out there was another band called the Warlocks so we couldn’t use that name, and we were trying to figure out names and we came out with about a million of ’em and none of them quite got it. We decided to thumb through the Oxford dictionary, so Jerry got up and walked over and spun the dictionary and put his finger in, and it came out Grateful Dead. It’s an ethnological term; it has to do with a guy named Childs who went around and catalogued a lot of folk ballads from northern Ireland and Scotland back before the turn of the century. There was a whole section that he did on what were the Grateful Dead ballads; the Grateful Dead ballads being visitations and stuff like that, generally having to do with people that had died and come back and been kind of glad.” – Bob Weir
The dictionary was Funk & Wagnalls by other accounts. Jerry Garcia told a different tale entirely:
“Let’s see, the classic story is the one where somebody dies, but there’s some dishonor connected with the death, so they can’t really rest until this matter is settled, and then when it’s settled that puts them in the category of being Grateful Dead. It’s just what it sounds like . . . Grateful Dead.” – Garcia
In May this year, former Special Forces Lieutenant Chalmers Wood, Jr revealed yet another story. His dad Chalmers Wood, Sr ran the Vietnam war for the State Department from 1959-1963. Merry Prankster founder Ken Babbs was over there during this time, he won 5 medals for his service as a chopper pilot before returning to join Uncle Sam’s Acid Tests project.
Wood claims that he designed all the artwork and the spiritual philosophy related to the Grateful Dead, and entrusted it to John Perry Barlow and Bob Weir in 1963. The purpose of this project was to start a “cultural movement” based on sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll – a social engineering operation.
Thanks to Matt Carney for providing this lead
In 1963, Barlow, Weir and Wood were at the 1100-acre Fountain Valley prep school in Colorado Springs. Aldous Huxley’s son also went there. The symbology and cosmology of the Grateful Dead seems taken from Theosophy, co-ed Freemasonry. So far in dozens of books telling the official history of the Beats, the Pranksters, and the Grateful Dead, the connections to the military-industrial-intelligence complex are ignored or dismissed as irrelevant. Maybe American Messiah will be different.
Cyberspace – a Greater Cultural Movement than Burning Man?
John Perry Barlow, left, on stage with Larry Harvey at Black Rock City
John Perry Barlow is another connection between the New York and Bay Area counter-cultural scenes. According to Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally, Barlow was “living in New York, dealing cocaine, and carrying a gun” when he was recruited to write songs for his childhood buddy, Bohemian Grover Bob Weir.
Daniel Pinchbeck is into the Noosphere too. In fact he’s got a book he can sell you about it:
I believe we are on the cusp of transitioning into a psychic level of species existence, what some have called a “noospheric” (from the Greek word nous, meaning mind) or “supramental” condition. I recently published a book by the late Jose Arguelles, Manifesto for the Noosphere, which explores this idea in depth
John Perry Barlow was the first to use the word “cyberspace” (credited to William Gibson in Neuromancer) in its modern sense. In 1997, when Burning Man was being marketed on the front cover of WIRED magazine as “the New American Holiday”, it was bombarded by TV crews. A clip from ABC Nightline in 1997 called it “the physical manifestation of the Internet”.
Larry Harvey picked up on this theme in a 1997 speech at the MacWorld Digital Be-In about “Burning Man and cyberspace”, in which he says the Internet doesn’t have any value.
The Controlled Media
Daniel Pinchbeck is by no means the first to crow about the cultural significance of Burning Man. TIME magazine recently put Burning Man on the front cover – at least, the hardcover special edition “Civilization’s 100 Most Important Sites”. Burning Man is #100.
Events in the recent election have woken millions of people up from the Trance, and exposed the fraudulent nature of the mainstream media as a one-to-many propaganda tool for population control. This has been known for a long time in Shadow History. Operation MOCKINGBIRD was exposed by Carl Bernstein (of the dynamic duo Woodward & Bernstein, All the President’s Men) in 1977, and previously in Ramparts magazine in 1967. Intelligence infiltrated media, academia and modern art.
“By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.” – Carl Bernstein The CIA and the Media Rolling Stone cover story 1977
This information has been out in the public since 1967. It has never been debunked, there is no need since it is all true. The CIA’s involvement in culture creation is so well known that there is now an entire podcast series about it – check out Tom Secker’s Spy Culture. He uses FOIA requests to document things like why George Clooney makes so many CIA-related movies. He has proved CIA involvement in vital National Security-related shows like Cupcake Wars, Master Chef, the Golf Channel, and American Idol.
The Man and the Counter Culture
The Macy Conferences led to MKULTRA in all of its various forms, such as Subproject 58 in which JP Morgan’s VP of Propaganda “discovered” magic mushrooms one day on a CIA-funded expedition to Mexico.
The Merry Pranksters got in their Day-Glo bus and drove around the country, LSD mysteriously following them wherever they went. Luckily hotshot writer Tom Wolfe was there to document everything in The Electric Kool Aid acid test. Kesey’s book became a bestseller, Wolfe’s book became a bestseller…Actually, almost every person on the bus wrote a book – quite remarkable for a drugged out entertainment group, less so when you look at their education and military backgrounds. The publishing world saw to it that this message got out.
After LSD was made illegal, the Merry Pranksters threw the “acid test graduation party”
The MKULTRA program was officially shut down in 1973, but in reality just continued under other names. Never trust a Prankster! LSD was made illegal in 1966, which led to manufacturing being set up in the Bay Area under Bear Owsley, Nick Sand and Tim Scully – all under the tutelage of Bohemian Grove saxophonist-chemist, Burner Sasha Shulgin. The distribution of acid was controlled via various cultural “scenes”. Three of the biggest distribution networks were Timothy Leary’s Brotherhood of Eternal Love, the aptly named Hell’s Angels and the Grateful Dead.
Source: FBI Vault
Banning acid – something CIA agent Timothy Leary advocated in the 1966 Senate Narcotics Hearings – certainly did nothing to stop its production. It just made it easier for the guys at the top to control the distribution of their technology.
After becoming illegal in 6/66, LSD was then studied by the CIA, DARPA, the Navy, the Army Chemical Warfare division, the Stanford Research Institute, the Church of Scientology, big pharma, and 44 Universities – just to name a few. Nobody thought to inform the government that illegal activity was going on in the many research projects they were funding.
Operation Midnight Climax was active in Greenwich Village as well as San Francisco. Beautiful prostitutes would meet men in bars, bring them back to their specially equipped fancy pads nearby, and dose them with LSD before having their way with them. Video cameras behind 2-way mirrors would record the action. Maybe this was for acid tests deemed too juicy for the “Free Love” students of the Sixties; more likely, CIA agent George Hunter White was gathering HUMINT for blackmail purposes. Whatever the (still classified) purpose of these XXX Acid Tests, follow the money: the Federal Government was paying for drugs and hookers.
CIA Director Richard Helms destroyed most of the MKULTRA documents when the project was exposed. Some survived and are in the public domain thanks to FOIA requests.
Daniel Pinchbeck is right that there are a lot of connections between New York, San Francisco, Burning Man, the Beats, the Merry Pranksters, the Great Work, and the Ancient Mysteries.
It seems now the Burning Man machine is to be aimed at the art world. It’s not fine art, it’s not street art, it’s not modern art.
Is this art?
Image: SFist, Big Imagination (Facebook)
It’s certainly a form of movement!
Are the Regionals still Burning Man if they don’t have this sort of thing? If the art makes Burning Man the Greatest Cultural Movement Of Our Time, then what sort of cultural movement is there without the art?
Burning Man art cars roam the streets of Art Basel Miami, and many jet-setting Burners attend both events. But it’s not easy to buy the art you see at Burning Man, and I have yet to hear of any profits being made from re-sale. BMorg wants their cut. The artists behind the La Contessa pirate ship art car valued it at more than $1 million. They lost their lawsuit against the landowner who burned it down on his ranch; the judge agreed with him that it was abandoned junk.
So: is Burning Man “the greatest cultural movement of our time”?
I’m not sold. The global rave scene is a much larger and more powerful movement than Burners. The parties are bigger, there are more of them, the music is everywhere. Electronic Dance Music has changed the world much more since 1986 than Burning Man. So has the Internet. Molly and LSD have changed the world – including the art world – much more than Burning Man has. Where did they come from? Where does it all come from now? Why is all this going on at the largest event on Federal Land?