2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Cargo Cult - Who is John Frum? He is known to us by many names, this Visitor from Elsewhere, dispenser of endless abundance and wielder of mysterious technologies: John Frum, Quetzalcoatl, Osiris, "Bob." His cargo is splendid, his generosity boundless, his motives beyond our understanding. But across the ages and around the world, the stories all agree: one day he will return, bearing great gifts. Our theme this year asks three related questions; who is John Frum, where is he really from, and where, on spaceship Earth, are we all going?
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maladroit
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by maladroit » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:20 pm

Regarding the rotating man, this is how I envision it:
[media]

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by FIGJAM » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:23 pm

Negative implications are in the eye of the beholder.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by trilobyte » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:29 pm

Yeah, he rotated in 2005. In 2006 he went up/down based on the collective hope/fear index (there were voting booths around the Esplanade that let you choose whether you had hope or fear for the future, if I remember correctly).

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by pepomint » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:32 pm

I want to pop back in and say that it was not my intention to speak on behalf of folks of color in general or Pacific Islanders specifically. My sincere apologies for coming across that way.

And let me say that I'm working from a deep pit of selfishness. I find that my social world is a much better place when there's less racism (colonialism, appropriation, etc) because I get along much better with folks who are different than me. I would like Burning Man to have less racism, because I love Burning Man and I want to get along with other Burners.

This theme seems like a big step backwards to me, adding at the very least some serious racialized condescension (a la The Gods Must Be Crazy, which has already come up on this thread) on to the usual low-level drumbeat of tiki-bar-and-bindi appropriation by white Burners, which also gets under my skin. At this point appropriation feels really fake to me, and so I find myself avoiding it and avoiding people that do it. And I am selfish, and so I really don't want this year's Burning Man to be a big pile of racialized condescension because I want to go to a fun event rather than skip one that gives me a headache.

And really, we're Burners. Creative, right? Inclusive, right? We can do so much better than borrowing some questionable WWII-era concept for our theme. Right?

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by BAS » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:39 pm

I find it interesting that John Frum urged that the islanders REJECT the European's teachings. (Although, weirdly, their reward would be "cargo"-- basically all the cool stuff that the Europeans had and the islanders did not.)

Which, of course, is no weirder than some of our beliefs, religious, political, or otherwise.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Sham » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:43 pm

I honestly believe you are seeing something that's not there. You are making an issue out of something to puff your chest in righteous indigence. The recent Black Friday sales, had nothing to do with you! Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be! :roll:

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by BAS » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:47 pm

Great. Now I've got the Beatles stuck in my head--- and two of the are dead! :shock: Thanks a lot Shambala!
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by ygmir » Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:52 pm

pepomint wrote:I want to pop back in and say that it was not my intention to speak on behalf of folks of color in general or Pacific Islanders specifically. My sincere apologies for coming across that way.

And let me say that I'm working from a deep pit of selfishness. I find that my social world is a much better place when there's less racism (colonialism, appropriation, etc) because I get along much better with folks who are different than me. I would like Burning Man to have less racism, because I love Burning Man and I want to get along with other Burners.

no, wait, are you implying, BRC has racism? in any amount?

This theme seems like a big step backwards to me, adding at the very least some serious racialized condescension (a la The Gods Must Be Crazy, which has already come up on this thread) on to the usual low-level drumbeat of tiki-bar-and-bindi appropriation by white Burners, which also gets under my skin. At this point appropriation feels really fake to me, and so I find myself avoiding it and avoiding people that do it. And I am selfish, and so I really don't want this year's Burning Man to be a big pile of racialized condescension because I want to go to a fun event rather than skip one that gives me a headache.

so, what, are you worried people will go around throwing Coke bottles in front of other people, and pointing and laughing? WTF? Not that many people do much related to the theme anyway, but, it seems you are painting some sort of worst case scenario, and applying it. Not at all taking into account Burners innate ability to have fun, be kind, tease, and accept out of context and inappropriate humor. You give no credit to peoples (maybe Burners moreso) inherent sensitivities, and compassion. And, no matter what the theme, you can count on someone, to do something wrong....
And really, we're Burners. Creative, right? Inclusive, right? We can do so much better than borrowing some questionable WWII-era concept for our theme. Right?

just because you don't like it, does not mean others, maybe even most, should not do it.
Play your own game, have your own fun, and let others....
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by junglesmacks » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:16 pm

Shut up, hippies.
Savannah wrote:It sounds freaky & wrong, so you need to do it.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by ygmir » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:31 pm

junglesmacks wrote:Shut up, hippies.
I'm hearing aggression and frustration here, Mister!
I might suggest you go in the jack room and back off for a while, and maybe you'll get a different attitude.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Bounce530 » Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:13 pm

Yggy, it's only when somebody gets their finger stuck in the coke bottle when other are going point and laugh.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by trilobyte » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:22 pm

Maybe it's just me, but when watching The Gods Must Be Crazy (several times over the years, and hopefully again soon), I don't look at the Bushmen with condescension or think negatively of them. It's a story about culture clash, and a fish out of water as Xi sets out on his quest. If anyone's made to look foolish, it's the people in modern society. Make of it what you will, I guess.

I suppose that if you tried, you could find something to be offended about out of every year's theme. Fertility 2.0? You insensitive bastards, what about people who can't have children! American Dream? Kind of excludes people from anywhere else in the world, you jerks! Or back in my first year (2004) - Vault Of Heaven? Incredibly insensitive to atheists and anyone whose believe system doesn't have a heaven construct (or any culture who's ever suffered at the hands of the churchies)! Pepomint, I don't mean to be dismissive of your feelings or suggest that you're nitpicking, I'm just pointing out that if one is so inclined, one could find fault or take offense with anything. If you're so inclined, go back and re-read the page in its entirety. Maybe take a look at a few other pages too - give it some thought. If it's still a dealbreaker of an issue for you (and your campmates), then go ahead and sit the year out. You could either do something connected with the Burning Man culture by attending an exotic regional (two are planned in Hawaii in the spring, and I believe New Zealand has an amazing event in February…among many others), or just take a break from Burning Man altogether.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by tattoogoddess » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:30 pm

Foxfur wrote:So I guess I shouldn't be planning on serving any of these at the burn lest I offend someone:
Black_and_Tan.jpg
.
.
That's a half and half. Bass and guiness is a black and tan.... Quite a story behind that name and the Irish car bomb. And byte is right, I can't. Have kids but chose not to look at the theme as a negative but as in a nother meaning of fertility.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by BBadger » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:34 pm

I never knew people took the themes so seriously. The only art pieces that seem to follow the theme are BMOrg-built. They could make the theme perpetually "something different" and the theme would be the only thing that would actually be the same year-to-year.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Patiencepie » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:35 pm

Random and obscure but alright, first thought that popped into my head was Joe vs the Volcano, the Waponi Woo islanders and Orange Soda...hmm...then I thought of the Prime Directive and how Starfleet tries not to expose pre-warp cultures to post -warp technology, yada, an so forth...ok, not sure I get it, commodification of indigenous cultures? I guess I will sort it out in my brain eventually. Ok, I'm not intellectual, I'm just an artist.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by theCryptofishist » Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:39 pm

Well, I tend to think the themes are rubbish, but in so far as good comes out of them, having them percolate through multiple brains (of multiple types) means that we get the maximum "good" from it. And of course, since Burningman is sort of brainstorming writ large, there will be some bad ideas out there, attracting all sorts of attention.


I still like it.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Foxfur » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:36 pm

What if I were on the proverbial desert isle?
What object or modern artifact would blow my mind?
What kind of object would it have to be for it to engender such a deep sense of mystery as to ascribe unearthly spiritual powers to it?
What aspect of it could possibly inspire a conviction that it had an integral role in my future?
What construct of an unknown origin would give me boundless hope and drive such eager anticipation to meet the mysterious and powerful creator of it?

It's not about mocking those who have been given a beautiful sense of wonder and and a communal focus of reverence.
It's about becoming them, if only for a brief period, to experience the joy of imagining what may come to pass.
It's the ritual, just like any and many others, that humans have practiced since time immemorial, hoping that if we do it just so, that we will recieve the answers that we yearn for.

In this light it is really not so different than other burns. You walk beyond the Esplanade and come upon things both unidentifiable and incomprehensible.
How was this made? Who made it? What does it mean? Will I ever learn the answers to these questions?
I journey back to my little tribe and relate the things I've seen on my adventures and ask them to return with me to these strange places to see what they can make out from them.
We talk, think, shrug our shoulders. Maybe someone else will come along and help figure it out.
Or maybe, just maybe, the creator will return and reveal all...
Last edited by Foxfur on Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by knowmad » Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:47 pm

+100 FoxFur! Well said!
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Elsewise » Sat Dec 01, 2012 12:17 am

What if this is all just a really sad cry by DPW for us to show up with more booze and snacks for them when we arrive?

What if it is a larger commentary on burner culture itself - we all show up with way more packaged food and gadgets and stuff then we could ever possibly need . . . BUT, by the end of the week, we're treating THAT ONE THING that turned out to be especially useful or especially tasty as though it was miraculous, worthy of reverence, and, possibly worth hiding/hoarding/fighting over (this year, for me, it was coconut water - it turned out to be just what i needed, it's not like i could get more of it or make more of it, and i might have thought to kill you if you tried to take mine. because it was MAGIC.)

In one aspect of life or another, we are all John Frum, and we are all the Native - we all sometimes have gifts to bestow, and we are all sometimes mind-blown by gifts we never could have imagined that are bestowed upon us.

We are all prone to longing for things out of our reach, and we are all prone to magical thinking about things that are beyond our understanding.

I get that there are, and empathize with those who feel that there are, problematic colonial overtones to the theme, but also think that it is a concept rich with intellectual and artistic possibilities that I'm not sure there is a better/more succinct way to express, and think that it is easy to see that that it is meant to be extrapolated to a far wider-angle contemplation on our wants and expectations and all of the things we take for granted. Or, you know, a contemplation of the colonizing aspects of those from whom we accept a great many modern conveniences without questioning how they came to be or how we would independently tackle the "problems" posed by their absence.

I'm more offended by all the little bag-headed consumer people on the poster - which to me suggests a nasty commentary that we are all blind consumers of BM, rather than creators of BM. But maybe that's how some overtired folks at the Org level are feeling about it these days, and I'm not sure I would blame them. Last year felt more planned, orchestrated, and formally produced than any year I can remember - and it was not, in my opinion, to the benefit of the experience. But I'm all for less with the big and shiny and more with the intimate, small-scale, and capable of being produced without the need for distant bureaucratic governing bodies subject to corruption and self-interested wealth re-distribution.

Which is not to say I will not want to ride the slide down from the awesome man-base, should i have the opportunity to do so.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by graidawg » Sat Dec 01, 2012 3:07 am

Foxfur wrote:So I guess I shouldn't be planning on serving any of these at the burn lest I offend someone:
Imagethats a black and tan. lager has no place being mixed with guiness. it should be pale ale.
Foxfur wrote:And let's not forget this racist classic:
Image
pretty sure thats a white russian
bloody imperialists ruining our cultural beverages, we obvioulsy need to go back and inform them of the correct way to mix these drinks. ingnorant hillbillies can't cope with modern culture
Image white russian see it looks like a glass of milk


Imageand a black and tan is much Darker (can i say that is it rascist?)
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Roberto Dobbisano » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:46 am

CHRISTIANITY IS A GODDAMN CARGO CULT YOU STUPID, STUPID HUMANS....




so why don't you just sit down, shut the fuck up and Drink your Brawndo, it's got electrolytes, and it's what plants crave.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Simon of the Playa » Sat Dec 01, 2012 5:49 am

[media]
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by mgb327 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:14 am

As a huge fan of "The Gods Must Be Crazy", and knowing of the history of the Cargo Cult, I am, personally, STOKED!
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by 5280MeV » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:33 am

This is a fantastic theme, and I think people should look past the potential racial issues to consider just how offensive this theme should be to so many diverse groups of people.

I heard of cargo cults through a lecture from Richard Feynman, who I will simply quote:
I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are
examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the
South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw
airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same
thing to happen now. So they've arranged to imitate things like
runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a
wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head
like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's
the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're
doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the
way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So
I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the
apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but
they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land.

Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they're missing.
But it would be just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea
Islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some
wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling
them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one
feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science.
That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying
science in school--we never explicitly say what this is, but just
hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific
investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now
and speak of it explicitly. It's a kind of scientific integrity,
a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of
utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if
you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you
think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about
it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and
things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other
experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can
tell they have been eliminated.
http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm

As someone involved in physics, I have never thought of the cargo cult as patronizing islanders, but patronizing EVERYONE who does not take the effort and act with the brutal integrity to understand the myriad ways in which their theory might be crap.

The islanders who become confused are just an example that from our perspective is simple to see. You can take this and simply look at it as racism, or you can use it to understand just how much bullshit passes for science. There are whole peer-reviewed journals published by reputable companies ... cough ... Elsevier ... cough ... that have been reduced to total garbage by charlatan review boards. Outright abuse of statistical hypothesis testing as endemic, for example see this xkcd article: http://xkcd.com/882/ - That is cargo cult science at work folks! In more cases than you would like to admit, this is what YOUR TAX DOLLARS go to fund ... cough ... UK NHS ... cough.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by FIGJAM » Sat Dec 01, 2012 6:44 am

OOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo!





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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Simon of the Playa » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:00 am

[media]
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Roberto Dobbisano » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:04 am

so, space pimps carry the most important cargo of all?
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by H.G.Crosby » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:09 am

Roberto Dobbisano wrote:so, space pimps carry the most important cargo of all?

DUH!
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by Simon of the Playa » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:52 am

Roberto Dobbisano wrote:CHRISTIANITY IS A GODDAMN CARGO CULT YOU STUPID, STUPID HUMANS....



ain't nobody got time for that.


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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Post by H.G.Crosby » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:53 am

you can be such an asshole sometimes...
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