Re-Writing History for the Banksters

Art historian, PhD student Stephen Mack, has written an excellent de-construction of the Burning Man 2016 art theme at The Daily Dot. The Medicis had a unicorn horn in their art collection. Who knew! And BMOrg are playing fast and loose Lorenzo Mediciwith history. Who’d have thunk it!

Please read it in its entirety – here’s the conclusion for TL;DR:

There actually is something about this period of the Florentine Renaissance thatwould appeal to the Burning Man crowd: The Florentine art patrons believed genuinely in the idea that money could be spent virtuously and they felt that spending on art was virtuous. Several scholars have gone into this idea in some depth. I think that many people in the Renaissance looked to art to engage them in learned discussion—perhaps to contemplate morality, to visualize and understand religious concepts, and even, I think, to contemplate on the ideas of nature and of representation. Spending money on art wasn’t virtuous simply because it provided the masses with beautiful objects, but because, in the Renaissance (as in most periods), to engage with a work of art was, in effect, to seriously contemplate both the world they lived in and the spiritual world beyond this one.

I imagine that the organizers of Burning Man had this type of contemplation in mind when they conceptualized the “Turning Man.” I’m sure many bros will have wonderful acid- and shroom-induced journeys staring up at Turning Man, and may indeed come out of it with a challenged view of the world. This is a great thing. And, ultimately, it is for exactly this reason that we should spend money on art in the first place. (Well, not so much the drug-culture part, but the challenging-our-view-of- the-world part. Not that the drug part is so bad, either.)

But the fanciful utopian history Burning Man has written to underpin this journey is an utter farce. And rewriting history to our own ends is never a good thing. 

That said, the Renaissance did their own rewriting of history, too. The learned elites idolized Classical Antiquity in much the same fanciful way that Burning Man now idolizes the Renaissance. In this way—though it was likely unintentional—Burning Man actually has done a decent job emulating the Renaissance. 

Read the full article at Daily Dot.

In the last year the non-profit Burning Man Project – which we’re told was created as the ultimate gift to us, giving Burning Man back to the Burners – has assimilated other charities BRAF, Burners Without Borders, and Black Rock Solar. Control of these networks is now cemented in the grip of the Project and the Ruling Group behind it. The Rulers get to play Medici in the economy of Black Rock City. They bank all the money from the Gerlach festival ($34 million), tax free (even though it’s not a tax deductible deduction for us buying tickets). They take a gallery commission on art sold outside the Playa by Burning Man artists. They get a share of the revenues of more than 100 licensed vendors approved to sell things at Black Rock City. They grant about $800,000 in cash and a couple of hundred thousand “in kind” in their patronage of the arts. Most artists are expected to raise two-thirds to three-quarters of the project costs themselves. And work for free.

My sincere hope is this “creative Maker artist” theme flavor will signify a new era from Burning Man’s owners founders controllers. Let’s hope for much more generous patronage of Burner art from the Medicis Ruling Group, both visible and invisible. 10% of revenues would be a great start – and let the artists pay themselves.

We will get a hint of the direction we’re heading soon, when the long overdue IRS public filing for 2014 for the Burning Man Project is made public. Perhaps we will get to hear soon about some of the activities and achievements of the Burning Man Project in taking our contributions to execute its mission.

 

 

The Truth About Da Vinci [Update]

Given how precious some members of BMOrg are about people sharing on social media, the choice of “Da Vinci’s Workshop” as next year’s theme is somewhat ironic. Why? Because Leonardo Da Vinci was probably the greatest plagiarist of all time.

The popular theory of history is that Da Vinci was an amazing genius. A painter most famous for the “is she smiling or not” Mona Lisa, he also created 3d perspective. He invented the helicopter; locks in canals; the siege tower; tanks; machine guns; and a broad range of other mechanical devices.

flash devilHow could one man, a bastard sodomite pauper whose only formal education was in painting, single-handedly come up with all of this innovation? Was he the greatest genius who ever lived? Or did he get some help? From his Demons, perhaps?

One theory seems the most plausible, certainly more believable than the official tale.

Gavin Menzies is a former British nuclear submarine commander. He grew up in China, and spent his life sailing the ocean’s currents, on and below the water. His breakthrough book 1421: The Year China Discovered The World, offers a meticulously detailed alternative to mainstream history. Cutting a long story short, maps existed of America, Australia and even Antarctica long before their discovery by the West.

Chinese Map of the World, 1418. Image: The Economist

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.gavinmenzies.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/jean_rotz.jpg?resize=500%2C356

The 1542 Jean Rotz map depicts the coastlines of Africa, Asia, India and China with great accuracy, and shows the east, west and northernmost parts of Australia, some two centuries before Captain Cook. Image via gavinmenzies.net

 

 

Gavin Menzies’ next book was 1434: The Year A Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance.

Ignited.

At the time of Da Vinci, the Chinese were at least 3000 years into their civilization. The Ming Dynasty had produced a kind of Encylopedia called the YongLe Dadian. Its books were essentially the sum total of all of their knowledge and inventions.

Emperor Yongle (born with the name of Zhu Di 朱棣) was the third Emperor of the Ming dynasty and he reigned from 1402 to 1424. He was a key figure of the development of the Chinese empire: he transferred the capital of the empire from Nanjing to Beijing and ordered the building of the Forbidden City. Under his reign Admiral Zheng He travelled to the Middle East and East Africa strengthening the trade and diplomatic links with foreign countries…

Emperor Yongle commissioned the Yongle Dadian in July 1403 and the project involved 2169 scholars and compilers from the Hanlin Academy and the National University. Completed in 1408, it was the world’s largest literary compilation, comprising 22,877 chapters bound in 11,095 volumes…The content of the encyclopaedia covers all aspects of traditional “Confucian” knowledge and contains the most representative literature available at that time, ranging from history and drama to farming techniques

[Source: British Library]

It added substantially to the body of knowledge that the Chinese had recorded in 1313 in the Nung Shu, created using movable type a couple of centuries before Gutenberg.

Zheng He was a 7-foot tall eunuch, and perhaps China’s greatest ever admiral and explorer.

The Xuande Emperor would have briefed Zheng He on the background and customs of all the countries the fleet would visit. They had the ideal tool with which to do so – the Yong Le Dadian. This massive encyclopaedia was completed in 1421 and housed in the newly built Forbidden City. 3000 scholars had worked for years compiling all knowledge known to China for the previous 2000 years. The discoveries made on the voyages of Zheng He’s fleet were also incorporated into the Yong Le Dadian. One can go further and say one of Zhu Di’s leading objectives was to acquire knowledge gained from the Barbarians. The best way to acquire knowledge is to share it – to show the Barbarians how immensely deep, wide and old was Chinese knowledge and Chinese civilisation. For this of course they needed to have copies of the Yong Le Dadian aboard their junks and they needed also to brief interpreters about the contents so the message could be propagated.

This vast encyclopaedia was a massive collective endeavour to bring together Chinese knowledge gained in every field over thousands of years under one roof. Zheng He had the immense good fortune to set sail with priceless intellectual knowledge in every sphere of human activity. He commanded a magnificent fleet – magnificent not only in military and naval capabilities but containing intellectual goods of great value and sophistication, a fleet which was the repository of half the world’s knowledge.

Of equal importance were the calendars carried by the fleets. Having been ordered to inform distant lands of the commencement of the new reign of Xuan De, an era when “everything should begin anew,” a calendar was essential to Zheng He’s mission.

Issuing calendars was the prerogative of the emperor alone. Accuracy was necessary to enable astronomers to predict eclipses and comets — a sign that the emperor enjoyed heaven’s mandate. The Shou Shi calendar produced by Guo Shou Jing was officially adopted by the Ming Bureau of Astronomy in 1384. This is the calendar that both Zhu Di and the Xuan De emperor would have ordered Zheng He to present to foreign heads of state. The calendar contained a mass of astronomical data running to thousands of observations. It enabled comets and eclipses to be predicted for years ahead as well as times of sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset. The positions of the sun and moon relative to the stars and to each other were included, as were the positions of the planets relative to the stars, sun and moon. Adjustments enabled sunrise and sunset, and moonrise and moonset, to be calculated for different places on earth for every day of the year.

[Source]

Could Leonardo da Vinci have drawn inspiration for his inventions from the drawings in the Chinese encyclopedia? Or is it just hundreds of coincidences that his inventions already existed in China, and he was living in a place bustling with Chinese trade?

Menzies is a fan of Da Vinci. He writes:

In my youth, Leonardo da Vinci seemed the greatest genius of all time: an extraordinary inventor of every sort of machine, a magnificent sculptor, one of the world’s greatest painters and the finest illustrator and draughtsman who ever lived. Then, as my knowledge of Chinese inventions slowly expanded, more and more of Leonardo’s inventions appear to have been invented previously by the Chinese. I began to question whether there might be a connection – did Leonardo learn from the Chinese?

Leonardo drew all the essential components of machines with extraordinary clarity – showing how toothed wheels, gear wheels and pinions were used in mills, lifting machines and machine tools. All these devices had been used in China for a very long time. In the Tso Chuan are illustrations of bronze ratchets and gear wheels from as early as 200 BC which have been discovered in China.

Leonardo is renowned for his drawings of different forms of manned flight, notably his helicopter and parachutes and his attempts at wings. The earliest Chinese description of the possibility of manned flight occurred in the accounts of the short-lived and obscure Northern Ch’I dynasty (ninth century BC). The Chinese had made use of the essential principle of the helicopter rotor from the fourth century AD and by then, helicopter toys were popular in China, a common name being “bamboo dragonfly”. Parachutes were in use in China fifteen hundred years before Leonardo, hot air balloons were known in the second century AD in China and by Leonardo’s day, the kite had been in use for hundreds of years.

Leonardo drew an array of gunpowder weapons, including three variations of the machine gun, which can be seen in the fire lances used in China since 950 AD. Leonardo also drew different types of cannon, mortar and bombard. The Chinese use of bombard is well catalogued throughout the ages.

Comparisons of the machines of Leonard with earlier machines from China reveal close similarities in toothed wheels and gear wheels, ratchets, pins and axles, cams and cam-shaped rocking levers, flywheels, crankshaft systems, balls and chains, spoke wheels, well pulleys, chain devices, suspension bridges, segmented arch bridges, contour maps, parachutes, hot air balloons, “helicopters,” multi-barrelled machine guns, demountable cannons, armoured cars, catapults, barrage cannon and bombards, paddle wheel boats, swing bridges, printing presses, odometers, compasses and dividers, canals and locks.

Even the most devoted supporter of Leonardo (like my family and I!) must surely wonder whether his work’s amazing similarity to Chinese engineering could be the product of coincidence.

The parallels between Da Vinci’s creations and the drawings in the Chinese encyclopedia are striking.

Screenshot 2015-10-28 11.32.48

A blast furnace depicted in the Nong Shu, 1313

A blast furnace depicted in the Nung Shu, 1313

 

Chinese Clock Tower, 1092. Image: Wikiwand

1434 coverYou’ll need to buy the book to see more.
Menzies draws a multi-generational link between Leonardo and the Chinese:

My research revealed that Leonardo had owned a copy of di Giorgio’s treatise on civil and military machines. In the treatise, di Giorgio had illustrated and described a range of astonishing machines, many of which Leonardo subsequently reproduced in three-dimensional drawings. The illustrations were not limited to canals, locks and pumps; they included parachutes, submersibles tanks and machine guns as well as hundreds of other machines with civil and military applications.

This was quite a shock. It seemed Leonardo was more illustrator than inventor and that the greater genius may have resided in di Giorgio. Was di Giorgio the original inventor of these fantastic machines? Or did he, in turn, copy them from another?

I learned that di Giorgio had inherited notebooks and treatises from another Italian, Mario di Jacopo ditto Taccola (called Taccola “the jackdaw”). Taccola was a clerk of public works living in Siena. Having never seen the sea or fought a battle, he nevertheless managed to draw a wide variety of nautical machines – paddle wheeled boats, frogmen and machines for lifting wrecks together with a range of gunpowder weapons, even an advanced method of making gunpowder. It seems Taccola was responsible for nearly every technical illustration that di Giorgio and Leonardo had later improved upon…

How did a clerk in a remote Italian hill town, a man who had never travelled abroad nor obtained a university education, come to produce technical illustrations of such amazing machines?

[Source]

The answer, explained with a great deal more depth and evidence in the book, lies to the East:

Well it’s certainly plagiarism…Everything which Leonardo drew were improvements on an earlier Italian, called Francesco Di Giorgio, whose notebooks Leonardo possessed and copied and improved on. And Di Giorgio was not original either. He copied everything from an earlier Italian called [Mariano] Taccola…The source of Taccola and di Giorgio’s inventions was, of course, the Nung Shu passed on by Zheng He’s fleets in 1434.

In the book, the first drawing was of two horses pulling a mill to grind corn, just as Taccola and Di Giorgio had done. Every variation of shafts, wheels and cranks ‘invented’ and drawn by Taccola and di Giorgio are illustrated in the drawings of the Nung Shu. This is epitomised in the horizontal water powered turbine used in the blast furnace. Every type of powered transmission described by Taccola and di Giorgio is shown in the Nung Shu. By comparing Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings with the Nung Shu, each element of a machine superbly illustrated by Leonardo had previously been illustrated by the Chinese in a much simpler manual.

In summary, Leonardo’s body of work rested on a vast foundation of work previously done by others. His mechanical drawings of flour and roller mills, water and saw mills, pile drivers, weight transporting machines, all kinds of winders and cranes, mechanised cars, all manner of pumps, water lifting devices and dredgers were developments and improvements upon di Giorgio’s Trattato di Architettura Civil e militare and his rules for perspective for painting and sculpture were derived from Alberti’s De Pictura and De Statua. His parachute was based on di Giorgio’s and his helicopter modelled on a Chinese toy imported to Italy circa 1440. Leonardo’s work on canals, locks, aqueducts and fountains originated from his meeting in Pavia with di Giorgio in 1490. His military machines were copies of Taccola and di Giorgio’s – but brilliantly drawn.

Leonardo’s three-dimensional illustrations of the components of man and machines are a unique and brilliant contribution to civilization — as are his sublime sculpture and paintings…it is time to recognise the Chinese contributions to his work. Without these contributions, the history of the Renaissance would have been very different.

[Source]

Like most Shadow History that tells a more nuanced story than the mainstream interpretation, Menzies has his detractors – both for his 1421 and 1434 theories. Most do not directly address the massive amount of evidence he presents, choosing instead to pick apart minor details such as “a canal could not have been dug for boats that wide and heavy”. Aside from the fact that if you can dig a ditch, you can dig a bigger ditch, we are talking about books and scrolls. By ship, camel, horse, or even on foot, in the 15th century it was possible to get books from China to the richest part of the world – which at the time was Venice, and had been for almost 1000 years. Cosimo de Medici was hiding out there in exile from Florence at the time Menzies says the Chinese arrived.

Florence was about the size of Burning Man, before the Black Death plague hit in 1348. The Medici banksters used patronage of the arts as a way to control the city from behind the scenes. Like the Borgias, they were famous for poison, torture, and incest. They funded Machiavelli to re-write history for them, then tortured and exiled him when he started to hint at the truth of what they were really up to.

Florence, 1493. Image: Wikipedia

Florence, 1493. Image: Wikipedia

Of a population estimated at 80,000 before the Black Death of 1348, about 25,000 are estimated to have been engaged in the city’s wool industry: in 1345 Florence was the scene of an attempted strike by wool carders (ciompi), who in 1378 rose up in a brief revolt against oligarchic rule in the Revolt of the Ciompi. After their suppression, the city came under the sway (1382–1434) of the Albizzi family, bitter rivals of the Medici. Cosimo de’ Medici was the first Medici family member to essentially control the city from behind the scenes. Although the city was technically a democracy of sorts, his power came from a vast patronage network along with his alliance to the new immigrants, the gente nuova. The fact that the Medici were bankers to the pope also contributed to their rise. Cosimo was succeeded by his son Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici, who was shortly thereafter succeeded by Cosimo’s grandson, Lorenzo in 1469. Lorenzo was a great patron of the arts, commissioning works by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli.

A second individual of highly unusual insight was Niccolò Machiavelli, whose prescriptions for Florence’s regeneration under strong leadership have often been seen as a legitimization of political expediency and even malpractice. Commissioned by the Medici, Machiavelli wrote the Florentine Histories, the history of the city. However, Machiavelli was actually tortured and exiled from Florence by the Medici family and the Pope under the pretense of sedition due to his ties to the previous democratic government of Florence and the fact that his work threatened to expose the true nature of their power base and they wished to discredit him. The Florentines drove out the Medici for a second time and re-established a republic on May 16, 1527.

[Source: Wikipedia]

Menzies now has several books as well as globally crowd-sourced research adding to his proof pile on a daily basis.

He has this to say about Florence, where a revolution was going on not just in the arts, but also in math, science and engineering:

Between the acquisition of the port of Pisa in 1406 and that of Livorno in 1421, Florence had enjoyed a continuous economic boom. Florence’s access to Venice enabled her to reap some of the benefits of Venice’s trade with the East. It also exposed the city to an influx of Chinese and other Asians, as we can see from period paintings and sculpture. Ambrogio Lorenzetti, who never left Tuscany, painted The Martyrdom of Francescan Friars in the church of San Francesco Siena, depicting Chinese merchants with conical hats. Previously, oriental eyes had appeared in faces painted by Giotto and Duccio. There was a very substantial Chinese and Mongolian population in Florence in the decades after 1434.

For the next hundred and fifty years, Medici power and money fired the Renaissance.
The Renaissance produced an enormous appetite for talent — engineers, astronomers, mathematicians and artists whose individual works were so widely acclaimed that others were inspired to follow with confidence. The Chinese delegation, with their new ideas, fabulous inventions and depth of culture would have made a very forceful impression on Florentine intellectuals, including Paolo del Pozzo Toscanelli. Florence was the ideal loam for Chinese intellectual seeds.

Cosimo de Medici took a dramatic turn after 1434, embarking on an orgy of patronage. He financed exotic palaces and chapels – San Lorenzo, San Marco and the Medici Palace. Cosimo and his brother Lorenzo’s embellishment of the sacristy at San Lorenzo was a notable insertion of science into the very heart of the church: in the little dome above the altar, an astronomical fresco depicted the position of the sun, moon and stars for 6 July 1439, the official day of union between the Eastern and Western Churches signed at the Council of Florence. This scientifically accurate depiction of a particular day’s sky was unfamiliar. The position of the sun, moon and stars for 6 July 1439 were all remarkably accurate. The puzzling question is how did Cosimo’s artist — without the benefit of computer based astronomical tables — know the position of the sun, moon and stars for 6 July 1439?

Someone knew the precise positions of the stars relative to each other, as well as the positions of the sun and moon relative to each other and to the stars. Whoever painted that fresco understood the solar system. This complex painting required years to execute, during which the position of the stars relative to the earth would have changed according to the 1,461-day cycle. It could not have resulted from piecemeal observations over the course of the job – my conclusion is that the artist had access to accurate astronomical tables.

Author James Beck, in Leon Battista Alberti and the Night Sky at San Lorenzo, has shown that the painter was Leon Battista Alberti, perhaps assisted by his friend Paolo Toscanelli. These two were Florence’s leading astronomers and mathematicians in 1439. Alberti in 1434 had accompanied Eugenius IV to Florence, where he met Toscanelli. The most likely explanation of the fresco mystery is that Alberti, who served as the Pope’s notary, met the Chinese delegates and obtained a copy of the astronomical calendar presented by the Chinese to Eugenius IV. The calendar provided the necessary information of right ascensions and declinations of stars to draw the night sky for a particular day and hour.

[Source]

Suddenly, in the space of decades, the Italians invented all the things the Chinese had over thousands of years! And it was Da Vinci who did it all. Sounds like spin to me.

Naturally, there’s a Snopes on it. It fails to explain why Native Americans look like Chinese Mongolians, ride horses like them and share their DNA. It doesn’t explain multiple maps that have been found pre-dating Columbus’ voyage. Snopes also does nothing yet to address a newly emerging theory that the first Americans were Australians.

Like always, do your own research. The book 1434 is a great place to start. The truth is out there, and thanks to the (still mostly uncensored) Internet it’s not even that hard to find. Think for yourself and question convention.

I’m hoping for lots of Chinese food being handed out at Burning Man 2016.


 

[Update 11/3/15 12:14pm]

An art historian has found many problems with BMOrg’s version of history.

BREAKING: Theme Announced: TURNING MAN [Updates]

Da Vinci Man! Image: The Shifty Fox, Facebook

Da Vinci Man! Image: The Shifty Fox, Facebook

Image: The Shifty Fox, Facebook

Image: The Shifty Fox, Facebook

Image: Nico Sotomayor, Facebook

Image: Nico Sotomayor, Facebook

Hot off the presses from VOBM. The big news is The Man is going to rotate on its base. The theme taps into the Maker Movement, and will surely inspire more creativity than scary clowns or camels.

Burning Man 2016: Da Vinci’s Workshop

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”  – Leonardo

Burning Man’s 2016 art theme is inspired by the Italian Renaissance of the middle fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, when an historic convergence of inspired artistry, technical innovation and enlightened patronage launched Europe out of the dark ages and into modernity. Our story will focus on the republic of Florence, for it was here, in a city-state of about the same size and population as Black Rock City, that humanist ideals, a rediscovery of science, and funding from a newly moneyed class of entrepreneurs fueled a revolutionary cultural movement that redefined Western civilization. Five centuries later, we will attempt to recreate this potent social alchemy by combining Burning Man art, maker culture and creative philanthropy to make Black Rock City the epicenter of a new renaissance.

Turning Man illustration by Andrew Johnstone
Theme and text by Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum. Illustration by Andrew Johnstone.

…Florentine artist Leonardo da Vinci sketched what is perhaps the definitive icon of this era. Inspired by his study of the Roman architect Vitruvius, he mapped the ratios of the human body to produce the image of a man, his limbs outstretched to span a universal circle. This year’s Man will emulate the symbol of Vitruvian Man. As nearby bell towers toll the hours, we will invite participants to operate an elaborate system of human-powered gears and pulleys that will slowly rotate Burning Man a full 360 degrees on the vertical plane, as if it formed the axle and spokes of an enormous spinning wheel.

The creation of a giant Turning Man is especially appropriate, since many famous Florentine artists were also civil engineers. Filippo Brunelleschi, originally enrolled in a guild and trained as a goldsmith, went on to design and construct the city’s chief cathedral – an unprecedented structure; it became a wonder of the world. Tasked with raising and assembling four million bricks in order to complete its egg-shaped dome, he invented dozens of diverse machines. Likewise, the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci are replete with engineering sketches – including the prototype of a helicopter. This fusion of art, science and technology also characterizes Black Rock City. In 2016, the Burning Man will be surrounded by a public square, a piazza lined with workshops, each representing a guild. Our guilds, unlike the traditional guilds of Florence, will be self-invented and devoted to the interactive manufacture of whatever participating artists and inventors can imagine. We will again invite our regional communities to join in this effort, and will reach out to members of the maker movement to help create this interactive environment.
Florentine guild ensignia
The Medici Lion flanked by insignia of the Merchant, Wool, Silk and Stonemason guilds

Read the full announcement at burningman.com

I love this theme, well done BMOrg! “Spin”, huh? Hmmm…


 

[Update 10/27/15 2:41pm]

How will the Burners spin The Man? I’m imagining something a little like this:

 


 

 

[Update 10/30/15 8:07am]

“Over many years, private donors, with a remarkable lack of fanfare, have quietly funded some of the most beloved artworks that have honored our city. We believe that what has long been private should be made more public.

In 2016 we will conduct a social experiment, inviting artists and patrons to settle around and activate a public plaza in the city. We will call on them to join together, pooling their resources to create a welcoming environment at the plaza’s center – a sheltered place where all our citizens may take their ease amid the amenities of high civilization. Thus we will establish common ground where participants can be united by their shared experience.”

A common ground where participants can be united by their shared experience? That used to be called Burning Man.

Many Burners have observed that this theme seems tailor made to encourage wealthy patrons to donate to the Burning Man Project before the annual Artumnal fundraiser on November 21.

I note that for the third year in a row, they are continuing with the “shopping mall at the Man base” idea, rather than the Regionals making effigies to burn. The emphasis is becoming much more on the highly controlled experiences of burning The Man and the Temple, than individual Burners getting to burn stuff themselves. The Temple is now  being promoted by Oprah as a new kind of religious experience.

At first I thought “they called it Da Vinci not Leonardo, must be something to do with Da Vinci’s Demons” – knowing how much these Satanists love demons. This morning it occurred to me that there’s another connection to Helco, on its 20th anniversary. Larry’s mate, Burning Man co-founder Flash (aka “Papa Satan”) hosts a show on the Discovery Channel called Doing Da Vinci. A nice little promotional bump for him, who once boasted of early Burning Man “I’m the only one who made money every time” (he sold tacos, beer, hamburgers, and t-shirts).

flash devil


[Update 10/30/15 8:36am]

I like this comment from VOBM:

I am confused. Is this theme snark? If so, it is spot-on! All hail the billionaire parasite class; our tech-bro overlords. Let us bow down in supplication to their magnanimous trickling of wealth and patronage. Praise be to the noblesse oblige of Camp Zuckerberg and their ilk, as we pray at the shrine of Sarandon. Let us hold humility in our hearts as we create a playground for THEIR amusement.

If this is not snark, it’s just sad.

I’ve run a placed camp for five years now, we make art, gift booze, shade, games, and community, and none of it was thanks to the parasite billionaire class. All they do is show up and take what we create.

I have decided to assume this theme is a joke – that we are not being expected to worship the entitled plug and players as they ride their segways past what we have created. I have mostly stayed out of the increasing discussion about the entitled and the creators, but goddamn Burning Man, you’re asking for it this time.

Burning Man: Love It or Leave It?

by Whatsblem the Pro

IMAGE: Whatsblem the Pro

“If you don’t like the way it’s run, go start your own event!”

When people start talking about the negative aspects of Burning Man – whether they offer solutions or not – it’s a good bet that others will cite the inevitability of change, and say things like “if you don’t like what Burning Man has become, go start your own event!”

It’s a sentiment that recalls a bumper sticker often proudly displayed on redneck pickup trucks during the Vietnam War era, that read “America: Love It or Leave It.” Like that bumper sticker, it expresses an idea that is strongly counter to the culture it pretends to support. Burning Man, like America, is supposed to be a participatory place where you take enough pride in your citizenship to actively criticize what needs criticizing, and try to fix it.

In more specific terms, “go start your own event” ignores and clashes with at least three of the much-vaunted Ten Principles – Civic Responsibility, Communal Effort, and Participation – as well as some of the most deeply-held unofficial tenets of our culture, like the idea of a ‘do-ocracy’ in which you are expected to refrain from merely complaining about problems you see in favor of actually getting involved in solving them. What’s behind “if you don’t like it, go start your own event” is a deeply jingoist attitude suitable only for insufferably flippant spectators who are assuming you are a spectator too. . . and a spectator is one of the worst possible things you can be at Burning Man without committing some kind of actual crime.

Even the corporation that runs Burning Man seems to put a lot of effort into encouraging burners to spread the culture around and start new events rather than trying to change the existing one. . . but what they don’t mention is that they insist you move forward only with their approval and their trademark licenses. In other words, you can go start your own event if you don’t like the way they run Burning Man, but you have to do it the way they — the people who run Burning Man — tell you to.

Corey Rosen, aka ‘Endeavor,’ hasn’t left Burning Man; he loves it and still works as a Greeter each year. He is, however, currently in the process of spreading the culture around by starting his own event. . . the Digital Renaissance Faire, a gathering that in spite of the name has everything to do with burner culture and burner values, and nothing whatsoever to do with the Renaissance Faire.

Since he — like nearly all burners — is creative and has ideas on how the Burning Man model could be improved, Rosen is doing it his own way instead of slavishly following the example set by the Burning Man organization’s decisions.

Possibly the biggest difference between Burning Man and the Digital Renaissance Faire is that, at Burning Man, only the corporation that runs the event — known as “the Org,” or “BMOrg,” or even “the Borg,” — is allowed to make any money. On the plus side, this means that nobody is trying to sell you drinks or t-shirts. . . but a miserly three to four percent of the ticket revenue is paid out as arts grants, while hordes of participants build and transport their art to the event without any remuneration at all, often spending huge sums to do so. In recent years, even the art projects lucky enough to get grants from the Org have had to turn to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise the rest of the money necessary to build and transport the mind-blowing creations that are a large part of what makes Burning Man so popular and successful.

In contrast, the Digital Renaissance Faire issues shares to all active participants, in proportion to their level of participation. At the end of the week, any profits generated are distributed to the people who actually build the event, bring the art, put on performances, organize workshops, and otherwise contribute.

Corey Rosen and his Digital Renaissance Faire are not a threat to Burning Man; the DRF doesn’t take place the same week as Burning Man, for one thing. . . and the DRF is actually designed to facilitate Burning Man, by providing large art and theme camps with both a testbed where they can shake the bugs out of their projects before taking them to Black Rock City, and a convenient spot to store their gear year-round that is not terribly far from the playa.

Since Rosen practices transparent accounting and shares the event’s take with the artists, performers, and workers who actually build it and operate it, it would be seriously unjust to say that he’s trying to commercialize the aspects of the event that are inspired by Burning Man. If Rosen was trying to cash in on Burning Man’s cachet and ethos, he’d do it just like the corporation that runs Burning Man does it: by keeping the accounting secret, and keeping the lion’s share of the profits for himself. Instead, he directly facilitates the art, theme camps, performers, etc. by cutting them all in for a percentage. Meanwhile, at Burning Man, only three to four percent of the ticket revenue – which is not the only income generated by the event – goes out as art grants; furthermore, those grants only go to those few projects hand-picked by the people clutching the purse strings. . . and as for the workers who build all the infrastructure, most of them don’t get paid at all.

Corey Rosen, acting in good faith on the constant exhortations from the corporate heads of Burning Man, is trying to spread the culture. . . but he’s also trying to play fair with the money, and his transparent business model that shares the revenue equitably with the participants who build everything presents a serious threat to Burning Man’s Board of Directors. If Rosen succeeds and proves that his business model is sound, the tiny group of amateur oligarchs that own Burning Man will no longer be able to claim that such a business model is an unworkable pipe dream. If that happens, they may very well come under pressure to follow Corey Rosen’s lead, and finally step down from the back of the cash cow they’ve been riding for decades.

Rosen has a lot to teach us about what actually happens when you act in good faith by taking the Burning Man Org at their word, and do what they tell you to do.

[NOTE: As you read Rosen’s account of his dealings with Burning Man, keep in mind that most of the Ten Principles were not written by anyone at Burning Man. . . for instance, “Leave No Trace” began as an ad campaign by the Federal Bureau of Land Management, and came to the playa via the Cacophony Society.]

Corey Rosen speaks:

My first interaction with the Burning Man organization about the Digital Renaissance Faire was back in October of 2012. I got in touch with my main contact over there to tell him we were planning a co-op festival, and he said Burning Man could not sanction the event because the participants were being paid. He then explained to me that Burning Man is working on another way to work with events similar to theirs that are more profit-driven. I came to find out that certain events given approval by Burning Man do pay talent, so I didn’t understand why an event that pays all the participants based on the profit of the event would be a problem. I also found that asking that question might cause problems, so I chose not to.

For over a month, I reached out to my contact at BMOrg to work with him on making sure we were in compliance with the event we were inspired by, with little response. Most of the responses I did receive were to tell me that he was too busy to contact me.

Once we launched our website, I received this email from him:

You are not a sanctioned event and did jump the gun to modify the Ten Principles and list them as if they were your own invention and writing. For trademark purposes it is better to not alter something and instead link to the original thing in a way that is clearly not plagiarized.

I think you should actually take them down because the Principles can be misconstrued to be something you originated and they are not. They are clearly derived from Burning Man’s Ten Principles.

Right now my understanding is that it is better to say you have been inspired by the Ten Principles of Burning Man and link to them vs. change them and make them seem like they are your own. I think you should also say “this event is not related or affiliated with Burning Man or The Burning Man Project, but we have been inspired by the guiding Principles of Burning Man.”

I am uncertain at this point if you should even directly link to the Ten Principles. So I guess the safest thing you can do right now is remove the plagiarized ones you have on your site and simply say “we have been inspired by Burning Man and it’s guiding principles” and then we can talk again.

I’d rather you not promote your event at the Artumnal Gathering until we have had the proper time to review this. I am sorry, but these things take time to properly vet. As I told you on the playa we have about fifty official regional events a year and what you are doing does not fit into the process we have in place at the moment. What you are doing is not something we have done before and we are not prepared to recognize it as official or sanction it at this time.

I enjoyed talking to you about it on the playa but I also told you then that the “profit sharing” model and this not being originated through the regional network made it something that would require careful consideration and we cannot directly affiliate with it at this time. I am truly sorry I could not get complete clarity and meet with you when you wanted. To be perfectly honest I feel you rushed the process and even now at a time when I must focus my energies elsewhere you are being a bit demanding. I realize you don’t mean to be so, but I need to be clear that I gave you no permission on behalf of Burning Man to take the steps you took.

I immediately changed the text on the website accordingly, and received this follow-up e-mail later that same day:

Thanks and forgive me if I am a little edgy right now. It has been a very busy Fall and I am in final production mode for Artumnal Gathering.

Yes, it is fine for you to talk to people about your event and fine to tell them about your unusual concept and that you are a burner and are inspired by Burning Man.

I received no more contact until I reached out to him about my not getting on the list for the Burning Man Summit in April, which I found out three days before the event. Nothing malicious there, just someone forgetting to submit my name and getting no help from the Burning Man organization.

Some time after my last contact with the BMOrg, we decided to put together a decompression event. We even called it DRF Decompression. Less than twelve hours after posting the event details on Facebook, we received a message from Burning Man sent to my partner’s e-mail address, saying that we had to change the name of the event because Burning Man owns the name Decompression. I had multiple people telling me to fight it, but I chose to let it go, be cooperative, and change the event name.

The most recent interaction I had with Burning Man was right before the event. Since we are creating the Digital Renaissance Faire as a participation-funded co-op festival, we have been given many things to make this event successful. I had the idea of creating a Digital Renaissance Faire token to give out as a gift to the community that inspired us. I found a token company and we were going to buy a thousand of them and give twenty each to the DRF community members going out to Burning Man. When I told the owner of the token company what we were doing and what our event was all about, he decided to donate 10,000 tokens so I could give a hundred to each of our community members, to gift out at Burning Man. I thought this was a generous offer and graciously accepted.

Unfortunately, the tokens could not be shipped and in our hands until the Monday the event started. I posted on my page for help looking for a place to have them shipped to, and someone coming to the playa Monday night or later to receive them. Instead, I received a phone call from my partner saying she received a cease and desist order from Burning Man telling us that we were not allowed to bring our “promotional material” to the event.

I contacted their intellectual property attorney and spent almost two hours on the phone with him explaining that they are not promotional material, but gifts for the community that inspired us. Once he understood what our non-corporate community-based entity was all about, he said I could bring them out but only give them to campmates and close friends. 

If you’re in Northern California and you’d like to learn more about the Digital Renaissance Faire and maybe show a little support, you have a golden opportunity coming up on November 11th, when the DRF Synchronicity Celebration takes place simultaneously in three separate California towns: Vallejo, CA; Nevada City, CA; Lake Tahoe, CA.

The Digital Renaissance Faire: A New Burner Event Gets Off the Ground

by Whatsblem the Pro

DRF Logo by Corey 'Endeavor' Rosen

DRF Logo by Corey ‘Endeavor’ Rosen

The first annual Digital Renaissance Faire is coming up at the end of May in South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. It isn’t particularly digital, and it’s not a Renaissance Faire; Corey ‘Endeavor’ Rosen‘s brainchild is, in Rosen’s own words, “a B.Y.O.E. (Bring Your Own Everything) community-based educational collaborative art festival practicing decommodification and sacred economy within a festival community environment.”

In other words, it’s a big burner party!

The DRF will be taking place near South Lake Tahoe from May 23rd to the 27th, with some familiar names among the theme camp participants that will be attending; Barbie Death Camp, for instance, will be hosting one of the distinct ‘villages’ at the event (Air Village), with Digital Apex providing sound.

Corey 'Endeavor' Rosen - Photo by Yobi Bear

Corey ‘Endeavor’ Rosen – Photo by Yobi Bear

“We’ll also have InpsydouT and their incredible black-light art gallery,” Rosen reports, “and the Financial Liberation Institute will be hosting a village workshop space. Remixed Ink will be bringing a screen-printing SWAG theme camp. MAP (Music, Art, Poetry) is presenting a live music and performance theme camp. . . and the YUM Truck will be cooking up some amazing food for us to sample on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.”

Sacred Spaces will be hosting Earth Village, with the Hookahdome as their village sound camp. EVOLVER will furnish some workshop space, and don’t miss Healing Sensations massage healing theme camp, even if you feel fine. SoulShine will balance your chakras with aromatherapy using scented candles, oils, soaps, and elixirs, which sounds like a pleasantly smellful time even if you’re ungroovy and don’t believe in chakras or care if they’re unbalanced.

FluxFire will be rapidly combining things with oxygen in order to threaten and enliven your very existence on this planet in Fire Village at the Digital Renaissance Faire, with soundtrack courtesy of The Othership. The folks from Leafy Green Gallery will be on hand with a sculpture gallery featuring live welding and glass-blowing demonstrations. Rainbow Heart will run a village workshop space while the Sensuality Salon will be hosting an activity theme camp designed to “connect your heart to your senses,” which is probably not as painful as it sounds. Our esteemed colleagues from Burn After Reading Magazine and Raised By Wolves will caffeinate you ’til you’re sore at their coffee bar, while PyroClastic Flow spins fire art.

Camp Happy Hour will host Water Village with a bar and art gallery, and sonic assistance from Sustainable Bass Collective. The Inversion Playground and outdoor workshop space will be available for your use courtesy of a coven of hawt adrenaline princesses known as the Tahoe Ciello Aerialists. There will be a photo booth run by Unique Exposures, and you might just find some stylin’ new (to you) duds at the Clothing Exchange.

The four traditional elements being insufficient for modern needs, there will also be an Aether Village, where the DRF Spirit Guides will man (or woman) an Information Booth, Ice Sales, and the Spirit Stage, a 24-hour open mic stage where YOU can be the star (or possibly jackass)! Rainbow Ranch will present a village workshop space, and Sk8&Create will welcome you into (out to?) their outdoor art gallery and mini skate park. 9Energies will be there, too, to determine which of the nine energies is your superpower.

The Auburn chapter of the Hip-Hop Congress is running the show in Youth Village, with ZeroDB‘s Silent Disco, and the Illumination Dissemination Theater, a movie theater providing educational documentaries and forward-thinking programs all weekend long.

It all promises to add up to an interesting event. Weather allowing, it should be a good time for everyone.

Even Cookie Monster. Photo by Tim Eliseo

Even Cookie Monster. Photo by Tim Eliseo

For More Information:

DRF Hotline: 916-WIRE-DRF
Event Website: www.digitalrenfaire.org
Ticket Page: www.pccn.ticketbud.com/digitalrenfaire
Facebook Community Page: www.facebook.com/digitalrenfaire
Facebook Event Page: www.facebook.com/events/530324116983560/