CryptoBeast #10 – Burning Man, Acid Tests 2.0, and the Technocracy

If you’ve ever wondered what I’m on about, or how this site went from a Burning Man fan site to talking about DARPA and the New World Order, then this is the CryptoBeast episode for you. I realize that most people don’t have the time or inclination to follow the 23.5 hours of video content in Shadow History of Burners or the 4.5 hours in 50 Years of Flower Power – so I tried to condense everything into just over an hour.

Everything I am talking about is backed up by references and notes which you can download here. I think it’s a fascinating tale which places the Burning Man Project in a broader historical context, and shows how their social engineering plays an important role in the world. One of the things which fascinates me about it the most is just how badly most Burners don’t want to hear it. YMMV.

unpleasent truths

 

What Ever Happened To Flysalen?

Last year, BMorg announced with their usual great fanfare that they had raised $6.5 million from wealthy private donors, some of them anonymous, to purchase Fly Ranch.

A Permanent Autonomous Zone. Or, rather, a Semi-Permanent Autonomous Zone: SPAZ.

What were they going to do with the SPAZ? They didn’t know, but they were going to consult Burners.

Our process will require a balance of playfulness and seriousness, planning and spontaneity, group work and individual contributions. As you may notice, every time we learn something, it usually leads to several more questions. While we discuss our values as part of a long-term vision and project, our current planning is focused on the short term. Many of our goals are things we hope to achieve in the next 12 months. We need to focus on gathering and sharing valuable information and developing the tools to support a long term planning dialogue. Once we have reached that point, and are equipped with the tools we need, then we can begin a conversation about what Fly Ranch will become.

A quick summary of what we’re hoping to accomplish within this 12-month timeline, roughly in this order:

  • Spend time on the land and in Gerlach and Empire, surveying the environment.
  • Establish security plan and protocols for the property to dissuade trespassing.
  • Begin small nature walks in partnership with Friends of Black Rock High Rock.
  • Develop ‘Town Hall Kit’ for community leader hosted conversations and feedback sessions.
  • Engage with the community online, on calls, in person, and in Black Rock City.
  • Write a series of posts detailing our planning and ask for feedback.
  • Develop project management software, community engagement tools, and interactive maps.
  • Establish a Fly Ranch mission statement and concrete operational goals for 2018-2019.

[Source]

Well, it’s been 14 months now of playfulness and spontaneity. How much of this has materialized?

Series of posts:

We Bought Fly Ranch June 10 2016

What’s In A Gift – The Making of Fly Ranch July 21 2016

Making Sense of Fly Ranch Aug 9, 2017 – Part 1 of 5-part series

Town Hall Kit: nothing comes up in a Google search for this

Mission statement: not on web site (but a Donation button sure is!)

Concrete operational goals: unknown

There have also been a couple of private posts from BMorg Board members Ping Fu and Chip Conley.

Yep, that’s it. A few blog posts. Even I have done more than that to advance the philosophical values of Burning Man in the world over the past year, and nobody donated $6.5 million here.

400 acres of the 3800 were 3-d mapped by a volunteer with a drone:

No offense to the video maker, but this doesn’t exactly seem like an enormous contribution to the future of Burning Man culture all around the world. Whatever happened to Burning Man Earth?

All in all, this is not very much to write home about. I thought Burners were creative and self-reliant, that this was an experiment in new ways of living together as a community – A Permanent Utopia made up of the best and brightest of tech, the arts, advertising, and finance industries? Sadly, the most recent post (last week) still says absolutely nothing about Burning Man’s plans for the site. There’s fences, there’s deer and rabbits and coyotes, there’s hot water from past drilling explorations, there are signs of people using the hot springs. OK, cool – glad we could work that out in 14 months. How are we making the world a better place?

3000 people have signed up wanting to get involved. Most of them are interested in the Arts and Events; the smallest participation category is Philanthropy.

In the coming months and years (because honestly, projects of this magnitude take time), there will be many opportunities to participate in visioning the future of Fly Ranch. We will need your time, energy, expertise, and ideas. Of course this project will also need financial support to realize and explore new ideas, if you feel inspired to contribute to Fly Ranch, you can always donate to the project.

This project will unfold over a long timeline, but to give you a sense of what we re working on these days, we’re currently:

  • Mapping out what limits our Ag Zoning sets on our activities and the process for changing that
  • Researching the impacts of federally protected horses, two dams, and limitations with our water rights
  • Hosting small trips for our office staff who have never been, and doing three community events on the playa
  • Researching tools for decision-making and collaboration and making a more precise roadmap for 2018 and beyond
  • Researching and building mobile composting toilets
  • Discovering and cataloging all man made (and left) objects on the property
  • Doing important outreach and relationship building in Gerlach and the surrounding area

As of June 2017, we’ve had almost 3,000 people sign up to get involved with the project through our Participation page. You can see a breakdown of their areas of interest here:

Surely SOME of these thousands of Burners might have had ideas about what we could do with the SPAZ. If they did, I guess none of them were worth talking about. Maybe that will be “coming soon” in the next 4 out of 5 posts in the series.

According to the official Flysalen web site, as “early” as Fall 2017 (ie. next month), interested Burners will be able to go on nature walks with the Friends of Black Rock in groups of up to 20 at a time. There is nothing about this on the FOBR web site, so like everything else in the BJ, we just have to take BMorg’s word for it.

Their newsletter editions are confusingly detached from their publication dates – is this by accident, or design? 6 months ago they said:

We’re also getting ready to expand on the Community Engagement Conversations that we held at Red Lightning camp last year in Black Rock City, and will be engaging in the next phase of community dialogue at both the European Leadership Summit in Stockholm and the Burning Man Global Leadership Conference in Oakland.

We’re planning to take what we learn from these facilitated public conversations and develop a toolkit for Regional Contacts and passionate community members to begin holding their own conversations to explore what people find most exciting about the endless opportunities of a year-round venue for Burning Man. 

A Toolkit to have conversations about what people find exciting! Wow. Of course, they’re still working on it. Either they didn’t have the facilitated public conversations, or they didn’t learn anything from them, or they weren’t able to encapsulate that learning in a toolkit. Whatever the reason, we’re not yet ready for passionate community members to begin holding conversations on their own about the SPAZ.

How long does it take for a Silicon Valley organization to research collaboration tools? Installing Slack takes a couple of minutes. You need help, bra? Isn’t Burner Billionaire Dustin Mosckowets part of your brains trust? HOW CAN WE COLLABORATE WITHOUT SOFTWARE FFS!!!!!

Image: Sabo

In the past, videos from the Global and European Leadership conferences were shared online. No more. I guess Radical Community Engagement works best when the dialogue is hidden from the community, without any opportunity to comment. Or maybe they’re still getting ready to have the conversations, 14 months just wasn’t enough preparation time for the Org to talk to Burners.

Ahhh, yes. Transparency. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Fortunately, last year’s sessions at Red Lightning camp that left everybody engaged and inspired were filmed, so they could be shared.

Screenshot 2017-08-15 09.27.57

[Source]

That was last October.  We were in luck! Did the luck run out? Maybe nobody applied, or maybe nobody on the 100+ year-round Burning Man staff is able to edit videos and upload them to the Burning Man YouTube channel. You’d think with $40 million of Burner ticket money every year, and 80,000+ devoted Ten Principles followers looking to participate, they could find a way.

Screenshot 2017-08-15 09.24.18

[Source]

Governmental agencies. They’re focused on listening. Got it.

Last year, they took a small number of hand-picked groups of ultra-VIPs on private tours during the Burn:

All together about 250 guests visited Fly Ranch before, during, and after this year’s event, and were careful to tread lightly on the land. Groups remained small (fewer than 20 at a time), utilized only pre-designated walking paths, and upheld our community ethic of Leave No Trace every step of the way.

One of them was Burn.Life’s Dr Yes, who reported that the project is being heavily influenced by Esalen and Stewart Brand’s Long Now Foundation. They also took Burn After Reading mag’s Jesse “Sprocket” Janusee, who was moved to tears by the experience. Halcyon was so shocked by the journey that it turned his famous “Pink Jesus” hair white:

If you’re not one of the lucky VIPs to get a naked hot springs dip as a reward for your enthusiastic servitude to the Org, perhaps you might like to attend these sessions on-Playa this year and report back to the group. Or just donate: $6.5 million goes pretty quick in the remote desert. We need more to fuel this amazing vision, we are making the world a better place nobody has ever seen anything like this TRANSFORMATION Project. 3 blog posts, wow. Send money now!

 

The Greatest Cultural Movement of Our Time

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.

Well, Mad Max must have pulled a handbrake turn, because now he’s charging off in the opposite direction: “Why I Consider Burning Man the Greatest Cultural Movement of Our Time”.

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.

[Source]

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.

What happened to cause Daniel Pinchbeck’s about-face? Did self-transforming machine elves put in a good word for the Playa?

Perhaps a couple of Exclusive Da Vinci Tickets [Face Value $1200 each] and a naked dip in the VIP pond at Flysalen were all it took.

[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.

[Source]

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?

[Source]

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.

[Source]

His new focus seems remarkably aligned to the Templeton Foundation-funded Transformation study, not to mention Esalen and the Human Potential Movement.


Radicals Self-Expressing?

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.

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.

The spokesperson selected to deliver this pro-Burning Man message 10 days after our Census post is quite interesting. Daniel interviewed Bear Kittay on the streets of New York in 2012 (see Sesame Street Cred). He spoke out against Jan Irvin’s research into the Magic Mushrooms Project and the Grateful Dead in 2013; on Facebook, and on his Reality Sandwich site via Simon Powell. Their argument that “Gordon Wasson did not know he was being duped by the CIA” is hilarious. Good try guys, but we have the documents.

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?

barbie-jesus

sodomysnack-food-glory-hole

public-fleshlight

grabbing-100-boobs-at-burning-man

This 2013 interactive mobile art installation entitled “Grabbing 100 Boobs at Burning Man” created controversy after the event, although it appears that there were plenty of willing participants at the time. Life changing? Transformative? Making the world a better place? You be the judge.


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 KaprowJohn Cage, and Carolee SchneemanDadaSurrealism, 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.

Disney again; not exactly an original insight:

As we noted in Shadow History Part 2, Disneyland was a project of the Stanford Research Institute.

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 Harvey Darryl 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.

Since when were fossil fuels, LSD and designer chemicals considered organic? By which calendar is the end of August the Turning of the Year?

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.

road-to-eleusis

rites-of-eleusis-crowley

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

Such cults include the mysteries of Isis

[Source: Wikipedia]

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.”

[Source: Facebook]

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:

6_bonobos_whcalvin_img_1341I 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.

[Source: Facebook]

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?

screenshot-2016-10-17-20-39-28

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.

Tom Swiss at unreasonable.org warned in 2006: “Daniel Pinchbeck’s Psychedelic Shamanist Apocalyptic Vision”. He sounded the alarm again in 2010, Why Daniel Pinchbeck Needs a Smack Upside His Head,

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.[*]

[Source]

Swiss was a member of Pinchbeck’s Baltimore, MD meetup “spore” for Evolver, the social network built around the Reality Sandwich blog and tied into Burning Man. Social networks aren’t cheap – Rupert Murdoch paid $600 million for Myspace, then sold it for $35 million a few years later. Myspace is now part of TIME Inc monitoring 1 billion users sharing data about their households and devices.

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.

owl-dc-aerial bohemian owl

bohemian-grove-owl-logo

weird_scenes1_465_687_intDaniel 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.

This book is out of print, but luckily the PDF is readily available. An earlier version with 100 extra pages is much rarer.


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:

Pinchbeck has deep personal roots in the New York counterculture of the 1950s and 1960s. His father, Peter Pinchbeck, was an abstract painter, and his mother, the writer Joyce Johnson, was a member of the Beat Generation and dated Jack Kerouac as On the Road hit the bestseller lists in 1957 (chronicled in Johnson’s bestselling book, Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir).[2]

[Source: Wikipedia]

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.

Burning Man itself is directly connected to the Beats. City planner the late Rod Garrett was a member, friends with poet Gary Snyder and comedian Lenny Bruce.

In 2010 Daniel Pinchbeck promoted Aldous Huxley at Colorado’s Naropa University, beloved of Ginsberg and the Beats.

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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).

Image: Pinterest

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.

coincidence-counter-front-panel

Cassady just showed up in the Perry Lane courtyard one day in a Jeep with a blown transmission. This was enough to make him one of the key members of the Merry Pranksters, driving them all around the country while completely out of his mind on high doses of hallucinogens. He was Dean Moriarty in On The Road (Brierly was Denver D Doll).

brand_905

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.”

stewart-brand-interview-2

Image: Inhabitat

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.” 

[Source: SFGate]

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).

The Frankfurt School and the American Jewish Committee were heavily represented in the Macy Conferences. Members of the core team like OSS black propaganda specialist Gregory Bateson (former husband of Samoan sex hoaxer Margaret Mead) showed up at Stanford as the preparations for the Summer of Love psy-op began.

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

“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.

alan-trist-would-report-back-to-eric

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.

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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, 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.

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Source: The Long Strange Trip, by Dennis McNally

Barlow founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation with Burning Man super-lawyer Terry Gross. He is a promoter of LSD, and disclosed some CIA work in “Why Spy?” in Forbes in 2002. In a 2013 interview with cult member Julian Assange from inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, he said “I personally know almost all the top people at the NSA”. Barlow wrote more than 50 songs for the Grateful Dead, which you can find out about at the Grateful Dead lyric and song finder – created by the head of British Intelligence.

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bohemian-grove-alter-after-burn-with-metal-skeleton

Burning the Man at Bohemian Grove – the Cremation of Care

Alex Allan, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is one of the world's top experts on the Grateful Dead

Sir Alex Allan, Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is one of the world’s top experts on the Grateful Dead

Barlow is a devotee of Jesuit thinker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who described the merging of culture and minds of humans in the electronic domain as the Noosphere.

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

[Source: Facebook, March 2012]

wired 1996John 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.

time-places-of-history

Mr Pinchbeck’s story references Robert Hughes and “The Shock of the New”. Hughes was TIME’s resident art critic for more than three decades.

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

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The founders and senior managers of TIME and Life magazine were mostly members of the Skull and Bones and Century Club secret societies. Miles Mathis has exposed Ramparts as a likely front. Why would Intelligence agencies rat themselves out? It is a psyop technique known as “Limited Hangout”, where a large amount of truth is mixed in with a few details that they want to remain fuzzy, in order to control the narrative.

CIA-the-mighty-Wurlitzer

cultural-cold-war

mighty-wurlitzer

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.

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American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert got the idea to enter the contest while on mushrooms at Burning Man

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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.

From the FBI Vault

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.


Conclusion

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)

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?

 

Stewart Brand And The New Communalists

The Conversation has an interesting piece by Simon Willmetts, a professor of American Studies at the University of Hull. He traces Burning Man’s origins to Stewart Brand, who thought up the idea of the Whole Earth Catalog on an acid trip. The catalog inspired many hippies to “Turn On, Tune In, and Drop Out”, dodging the Vietnam war draft and the violent protests of the Free Speech Movement, to instead do drugs, get naked, and express free love in intentional communities far from civilization.


 

re-blogged from The Conversation:

Why Burning Man is Silicon Valley

by Simon Willmetts
September 1, 2015 12.10pm EDT
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“Burning Man is Silicon Valley”, tech magnate Elon Musk declared last year. But the annual festival in the middle of the Nevadan Black Rock desert may seem an unlikely place to encounter the dotcom aristocracy. Its lunar-barren landscape is a world away from the plush campus greens of the Googleplex. Thousands gather together in tribes every year to stage musical and theatrical performances, exhibit art, run workshops, “gift” free booze and food (money is outlawed) and construct fantastical welded artworks mounted by dancers and DJs who blare out whomping dubstep into the cacophonous night.

The spectacle is all the more awe-inspiring given how inhospitable the terrain it inhabits is. The cracked dry earth is so alkaline that it can cause chemical burns on the soles of naïve barefooted burners – “playa foot” as it is known. Temperatures range dramatically from searing desert heat in the day to almost freezing at night. And dust storms are common enough to make facemasks and goggles an essential accessory.

But the festival has long been a magnet for the West Coast’s digerati. The first ever Google doodle, in 1998, doubled up as both a tribute to Burning Man and an out-of-office reply for founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin as they made their way out to the desert.

Technocratic heaven? donotlick/flickr, CC BY

The list of other tech luminaries who have attended is long. It includes Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian and Dropbox’s Drew Houston. Up until recently they have blended in harmoniously. But lately reports of VIP-enclaves charging upwards of $25,000-per-head for five-star catered service have jarred uncomfortably with the festival’s core values of decommodification, radical self-reliance and radical inclusion. Focusing on these extravagances of a select few, however, overlooks the broader affinity between the festival and the West Coast’s technocracy.

Building utopia

The key to this relationship is their shared lineage in the counterculture of the 1960s, and more specifically, the New Communalist movement, that saw thousands of young Californians go back to the land to build utopian communities. In 1968 Stewart Brand created the Whole Earth Catalogue, a book in which he knitted together these disparate communities into a single forum. In doing so, it is widely recognised that he laid the ideological blueprint for the internet and, as it happens, Burning Man too.

Growing up in Cold War America, Brand feared both the rigid bureaucracy of the Soviet Union abroad and the creeping corporatisation of American life at home. For Brand the key to both individual and social salvation from these twin evils was to do away with rigid hierarchies, whether governmental or corporate, and replace them with distributed networks of technologically empowered individuals who would voluntarily come together in common cause.

Likewise, Burning Man is best understood not as one community or centrally-directed event (such as more traditional music festivals) but as a network of lots of little communities that hive together once a year to build their utopia in the desert.

The effigy they burn on the penultimate night of the festivities provides a focus, but each group also brings their own contribution: a music venue, a bar, a food tent, a workshop, a theatrical performance, an art car welded into an enormous motorised fire-breathing dragon.

Everything is voluntarily produced, funded via altruism and offered as a “gift”, free of charge, to “the playa” (as the festival site is termed). Distributed and alone these groups can only hope to produce one small piece of the puzzle, but networked together they create a spectacle in the desert far greater than the sum of its parts. It is a form of socio-economic organisation that is analogous to the internet – we all produce the content free of charge, which when linked together creates the socially transformative online community of the world wide web.

California dreaming

The problem with utopias, however, is that they can only ever be imagined. The New Communalists never quite eradicated hierarchy and inequality. They reproduced traditional gender roles and they tended to be sustained by the wealth of their mostly white, mostly college-educated membership. The same demographic trends in Silicon Valley are widely reported.

An installation in 2006. dberry/flickr, CC BY

As for Burning Man, last year 87% of attendees were white, 58% male, 95.4% had some form of higher education and the majority of participants spent in excess of $1,000 to attend. The gifting economy may be noble in its intent, and Burners would say that the economic value of a gift is not the point, but a system based on altruism tends to appeal to the self-satisfying generosity of those with the deepest pockets.

In 2013 Google CEO Larry Page responded to a question about how the tech giant could help make the world a better place: “There are many exciting things you could do that are illegal or not allowed by regulation.” What was needed, he proscribed, were safe spaces (like Burning Man) of free experimentation.

Burning Man is Silicon Valley because it is premised upon the same libertarian idea that social progress can be achieved through the free collaboration of a network of empowered individuals. It is a microcosm of what Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron famously defined as the “Californian Ideology” – that unlikely amalgamation of “the free-wheeling spirit of the hippies and the entrepreneurial zeal of the yuppies” that has catapulted Google, Facebook, Apple and others to global dominance.

It remains to be seen whether the common good they have created is to the good of all.


Burners.Me:

It does remain to be seen. “Coming soon…”

In 2014, Larry Harvey gave a talk on Burning Man at Stewart Brand’s Long Now Foundation.

Brand, a Stanford graduate who worked for the Pentagon before organizing the CIA’s MKULTRA Acid Tests, once said of Burning Man:

brand_905Burning 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.

[Source: SF Gate]

He is credited with inventing the term “personal computer”, although he graciously ascribes it to Alan Kay. He also created the WELL with the Grateful Dead‘s doctor, which evolved into the World Wide Web.

The essay mentioned above, The Californian Ideology by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron of the University of Westminster, is very interesting. It was written in 1995, just as Burning Man was shifting its propaganda-based marketing away from a Cacophony freak show to being the physical manifestation of cyberspace.

At this crucial juncture, a loose alliance of writers, hackers, capitalists and artists from the West Coast of the USA have succeeded in defining a heterogeneous orthodoxy for the coming information age: the Californian Ideology.
wired 1996This new faith has emerged from a bizarre fusion of the cultural bohemianism of San Francisco with the hi-tech industries of Silicon Valley. Promoted in magazines, books, tv programmes, Web sites, newsgroups and Net conferences, the Californian Ideology promiscuously combines the free-wheeling spirit of the hippies and the entrepreneurial zeal of the yuppies. This amalgamation of opposites has been achieved through a profound faith in the emancipatory potential of the new information technologies. In the digital utopia, everybody will be both hip and rich. Not surprisingly, this optimistic vision of the future has been enthusiastically embraced by computer nerds, slacker students, innovative capitalists, social activists, trendy academics, futurist bureaucrats and opportunistic politicians across the USA. As usual, Europeans have not been slow in copying the latest fad from America. While a recent EU Commission report recommends following the Californian ‘free market’ model for building the ‘information superhighway’, cutting-edge artists and academics eagerly imitate the ‘post-human’ philosophers of the West Coast’s Extropian cult. With no obvious rivals, the triumph of the Californian Ideology appears to be complete.

…As pioneers of the new, the hi-tech artisans need to reconnect themselves with the theory and practice of productive art. They are not just employees of others – or even would-be cybernetic entrepreneurs. They are also artist-engineers – designers of the next stage of modernity. Drawing on the experience of the Saint-Simonists and Constructivists, the hi-tech artisans can create a new machine aesthetic for the information age

Read the full article here.

The California Ideology makes me think of Tupac and Dre’s take on California,  which came out around the same time. Dr Dre, of course, is part of Apple now – a hi-tech artisan indeed.