Why Bother?

All things outside of Burning Man.
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stargeezer
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Why Bother?

Post by stargeezer » Thu Sep 06, 2007 9:30 am

To save many of you from telling me I just don't get it, you are right, I don't get it.

I have been on the outside looking in for some time, trying to determine if this is something I should get involved with. Before the event, I watch individuals come together on the board and build great communities. After the event, I see large amounts of discontent from both new and old alike, and communities appear to fall apart.

By the time all is said and done, it costs a significant amount of money to go to the event, and if done properly, a huge amount of time getting prepared for the primitive conditions. What do you obtain from BM that you would miss if you were to gather your groups and go camping on public land for free?

I keep watching the board for reasons I cannot explain, but the horror stories after the event seem to dominate the board and rebuild the barrier that was slowly falling before the event. I am retired and am looking for areas I can join where I can contribute and enjoy, but I don't want to fight the politics and ignorance that I dealt with prior to retirement.

Please don't tell me I don't get it, tell me just what it is that I don't get. I thank you in advance for any useful information you provide.

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Post by AntiM » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:05 am

For one thing, "my" groups are fine, but it is all the other folks I'd never interact with otherwise that I would miss. Taking myself out of my comfort zone and into the wild blue. All that monumental art, the mutant vehicles, the annoying thunps in the night, the randomness of it all, well, everything ... it wouldn't happen on public land for free. It just would not.

Boots in the dust, that's about the only way to "get it." We can talk all night and until you've had the experience, there's no explaining the feeling.

Don't take eplaya as an example, this is where a minority vents. Like looking at the kids in detention and skipping the honor roll. There are plenty of people who never come here, who had a blast, who were deeply moved.

I had a marvelous time. Not perfection, nothing is. But the good far outweighed the bad.

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It's all about the dream of connection

Post by Bobinsb » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:23 am

Burning Man (to me) is the ultimate dream of connection, of creativity, of love, of relationship, of experimentation.

This was my second burn, and 'I'm done'. I feel transformed by all of the positive and negative aspects of it; I am more grounded, know what I am about, and know that I don't have to go wild to be fulfilled. It's been a great journey. If I ever do it again, it will be with service in mind, because that is where the juice is for me.

As a last thought, I found myself writing for hours over the past couple of days, noticing what was real for me, what did I want, defining my own borders from the level of truth. I also looked at my judgments, and got to laugh at them. It is the ultimate game of 'live and let live'.

I'm opting for smaller, more intimate sharing events in the future. At least at this moment.

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From a Former Lurker

Post by Nitevenus » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:38 am

Stargeezer, I spent 5 years on the eplaya boards, reading and researching. Expectations, or not, were a conflict. Just like AntiM has said, "boots on the playa" is the only answer to your "why bother?" You take away from burning man what you put into it. You will only be hindered by the written perception. Do take away the tips for survival and planning, and leave the rest as *their* personal experiences. Do go with an open mind, heart and soul. Take your own inquiry and travel to the playa to answer it for yourself. No one will be able to give you the pearls of wisdom, you will need to open that oyster yourself.

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Post by Mister Jellyfish Mister » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:52 am

Ah! Stargeezer has attempted to steal Zsu Zsu's poetry! She awaits him at http://eplaya.burningman.org/viewtopic.php?t=21785
Art cred: Georgie Boy 2011: www.mutantvehicle.com/georgie_boy.htm ; Ein Hammer 2010; Fluffer 2009; Zsu Zsu 2008; U-Me 2007; Mantis 2006; MiniMan and Pikes Of Paranoia 2005; Time Machine Mutant Vehicle 2004. www.MutantVehicle.com

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Re: It's all about the dream of connection

Post by Teo del Fuego » Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:58 am

2007 was my Best Burn Ever TM and it did help me shift things into perspective in my own life here in defaultia. But $1,500 spent for four days on the road, plus two strenuous work days setting up and tearing down camp, plus two days of dust storm, Hawaii is looking pretty damn good right now for next years vacation. I would trade Burning Man for quality time with a loved one. Maybe I'll have a loved one next year.

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Post by mojo » Thu Sep 06, 2007 11:09 am

Here are a very few of the things it is easy to "not get" by just reading the boards:

Starting to laugh the minute you get there and not stopping for a week - realizing that your face hurts from laughing and smiling so much.

Feeling wide-eyed for the first time in many, many years.

Being overwhelmed by the incredible range of imagination and creativity. (How in hell did they come up with that?)

Living in a fishbowl of people who are generally all there to entertain one another - it's never dull unless you need for it to be dull for a while.

There is a true sense of community will all the elements, good, bad and everything in between. There are lots more open arms and fuck you's, more offers of food and drink to strangers and more "get the fuck off my art car".

It is where the envelope gets pushed and you can sleep in the lawn chair and have strangers come up to be sure you are breathing.



Here you can be Puck or Pandora, Mad Max or Bart Simpson. You may meet them as well.

The few people that I have known that left early (not including medical issues) were those who just couldn't take the sensory overload.

Getting hugs that make you nearly weep from their sweetness and sincerity.

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Re: Why Bother?

Post by ZaphodBurner » Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:52 pm

stargeezer wrote:To save many of you from telling me I just don't get it, you are right, I don't get it.

Please don't tell me I don't get it, tell me just what it is that I don't get. I thank you in advance for any useful information you provide.
The general tone and atmosphere in Black Rock City is radically less cynical than it is here. What you lack by camping on public land is somebody you've never met coming up to you and offering you a pizza, a neck massage, a long island iced tea, or just some random conversation or interaction that causes you to change the way you think about things.

My wife reacted to somebody who ranted about how all his friends say it's "life changing", but he's not convinced because they can't sufficiently explain it. She wants to know what part of so many friends and others saying their lives were changed by it people can't understand. One thing is, you have to be ready to let it do that to you if it does, and you have to be willing to not worry about it if it doesn't. That's an intangible "danger" that might be more significant than getting injured on an art structure or a bike accident.

Friends who vowed never to have children found their peace at Burning Man 2005 and have a 9 month old boy now, who, like our one-year-old has for us, taught us things about the value of life that no parent could have ever explained to us. It's sort of like that: How do you describe the joy of something that keeps you awake at night, drools on you, shits itself, forces you to rearrange your entire lifestyle and requires constant care and supervision?

I hope that helps you.
-c
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Teo del Fuego
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Post by Teo del Fuego » Thu Sep 06, 2007 12:54 pm

damn, mojo, that was extremely well said. Time edits my past and I'm sure I will be remembering those wonderful things you speak about and will have long forgotten the hassels involved in getting there in a few months.

Thanks for the perspective.


I think I need to bow out of ePlaya for a while. Its kinda like listening to NPR day and night. The cumulative effects are soul-numbing...with a few exceptions which include you.

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Post by mojo » Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:43 pm

Don't go too far away Teo, I would miss you.

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c-clamp
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your playa experience is all about your head space

Post by c-clamp » Thu Sep 06, 2007 6:25 pm

i was driving in SF today on Bayshore at the Portero/Cesar Chavaz/101
stoplight when a guy lost his load of finished sheets of plywood out the back of his truck in the middle of the intersection.

i watched at the stop light while people drove around him, close to him, some honking.

i got off my motorcycle and helped him reload his truck.

we smiled and worked together

it was so simple

the opportunity to help this guy was magical. sounds stupid
but everyone else lost out

that's the playa. the pure joy of helping people and watching as people
run run! to help you.

putting up my shade structure in a wind storm i looked around and saw
5 strangers helping me get the thing up. out of nowhere they came.
a ranger in a truck stopped and got out to help.

i put up with a lot of shit working in center camp this year but i don't recall most of it. i could bitch about the fucking hippies using center camp as their personal trash can or the idiots that plugged their computers and shit into our outlets blowing circuits, dumbshits asking where the food court is (10:00 and J i responded) working in the unrelenting wind.....
all of it was joy compared to the harsh reality of the 'real' world.

i walk around SF today saying Hi to people around me. almost no one responds

not on the playa. open genuine eager smiles from most everyone
and the most brutal conditions can create amazing experiences if you
can lose your city eyes and see

it felt so good

the playa is what you make it. what's so unique is that the open friendly infrastructure is in place. you just have to tap into it.

ignore the crap when you can, vent when you need to, cry when it hurts
but fuck if it ain't the most unique supportive friendly community on earth

i miss my playa community. i need that yearly infusion of experiencing humans in positive way to combat the faithlessness of mass humanity i feel daily.

(5 yr. burner - center camp lighting crew)

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stargeezer
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Post by stargeezer » Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:35 am

I am reading about the connection with total strangers, and the willingness of others to help, and I guess I have to ask, do most of you live in a city larger than BRC during the rest of the year?

This may sound like a pretty dumb question, but why do large cities restrict the neighborly helpful environment?

I have experienced the big city life and I hate to admit that I came to accept that one does not know their neighbors and rarely lends a hand. I found this uncomfortable at first, but learned over the years that was expected in the city, but I do not understand why.

I was raised in a small community and have returned to that environment for my retirement. It is with great relief that I again know all my neighbors over a large area, and help is never far away. When strangers need and receive help, they always pull out their wallet expecting to pay a tidy ransom for the assistance, and are very puzzled when we simply wish them a safe journey as we walk away.

I am only now asking myself why this does not exist in large cities. Does being friendly and helpful show a sign of weakness? What is it about a city that grows such large barriers? Are city children thought to be paranoid, and if so, why?

I have been wondering what the draw is to BRC. While the art may be fantastic, I see that only as an added benefit, not the primary attraction. I now believe this draw is dominated by the need to connect to others. If this is the case, why not change the city life, or leave it behind and join a small community? If this desire to connect to others is so important, why do you allow yourselves to experience it for only one week a year? It is strange, but the primary reason I have not yet been to BRC is over concern with dealing with the horde of people. For me, BRC is a big city, and I suspect for most of you it is still a small community.

The question of whether or not I become involved with this community will continue to remain unanswered while I ponder my feelings. I truly wish that you could experience the sense of community all year, not just for one week. I also appreciate your comments, and thank you much for taking the time to respond to a stranger.

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Post by motskyroonmatick » Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:00 am

Stargeezer,
It is obvious to me that you are allready one of us. Come to the burn to see, feel and be more a part of this community. You have my personal invatation to be part of Stag Camp. We were complete strangers who came together to form a camp and enjoy the experience of Burning Man together.
I do get a feeling of connectedness at my home in a rural town in Oregon with the various community involvements that I do here. At Burning Man it is even better and it is where I truly live.
Black Rock City Welding & Repair. The Night Time Warming Station. iGNiTE! Bar.

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When you pass the 4th "bridge out!" sign; the flaming death is all yours.-Knowmad-

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Post by blyslv » Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:06 am

Galileo looked at the universe through a small tube with lens in it and changed and expanded our understanding of the universe, but he came nowhere close to understanding it. 500 years later we know so much more, but we still have no real understanding of the how the universe works.

Using the eplaya to learn about BM is similar. You know a few things and suspect you understand, but you don't really. You can analyze and reduce things to formulaic neatness (big cities ... connection etc) but it is not real understanding. I've lived in extremely small towns and very large cities. humans are difficult everywhere, but it's the only game we got.

""What is the use of climbing Mt. Everest?" George Mallory's reply was considerably more philosophical than the oft-quoted and rather lame, "Because it is there."

George spoke from his heart, "And my answer must at once be: It is no use. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly some medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself, upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for."

BM may or may not be like Everest.
Fight for the fifth freedom!

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Post by Kinetik V » Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:12 am

Using the eplaya to figure out what Burning Man is would be like parking yourself at the edge of the playa along Jungo Road and viewing the event with a pair of binoculars. You'll figure out a few things...but you really won't have a clue what the event is about (and the magikal elements of it) until you actually go. Participate. Immerse yourself in the experience.

I took a first timer along with me this year who has been on these boards in an observer role for 5 years now. She thought she knew the event. On the way out as we sat in Exodus traffic I asked her if the event she thought she knew was anything like what she had just experienced and the answer was an emphatic NO. The point I want to make is you just gotta go out there and do it. Nothing else will suffice for boots on the ground experience.

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Re: Why Bother?

Post by HughMungus » Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:34 am

stargeezer wrote:To save many of you from telling me I just don't get it, you are right, I don't get it.
Did you go alone or with friends?
It's what you make it.

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Post by Gooloo » Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:19 pm

You people are making me tear with all of your beautiful words.
Analytically fun and spontaneous

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Post by Valkyrie » Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:43 pm

I heard somewhere that attempting to describe the event was like explaining the color blue to someone who's been blind since birth. In a way, that's a good analogy. There's no purchase in language that's adequate to describe something entirely outside of the sphere of experience in your life up to that point. There's the starting point on the map that you'll find here, but no far end distant point to triangulate with.

But isn't that the way of all truly great experiences?
It's hard to have a normal conversation with someone with 6' acrylic rods strapped to your back.

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stargeezer
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Post by stargeezer » Fri Sep 07, 2007 3:39 pm

motskyroonmatick wrote:Stargeezer,
It is obvious to me that you are allready one of us. Come to the burn to see, feel and be more a part of this community. You have my personal invatation to be part of Stag Camp. We were complete strangers who came together to form a camp and enjoy the experience of Burning Man together.
I do get a feeling of connectedness at my home in a rural town in Oregon with the various community involvements that I do here. At Burning Man it is even better and it is where I truly live.

Black Rock City Welding and Repair. TIG and Stick arc welding for repair of your broken things on Playa. Repair, adjustments, trouble-shooting and general tinkering.
Thank you much for the offer, BRC Welding and Repair sounds like something I could really get involved with. Having a known homebase would ease part of the anxiety, but I still need to determine where my head is at. If I should show up at BRC, even if I don't join your camp I would enjoy volunteering to help with repairs.

blyslv wrote:Galileo looked at the universe through a small tube with lens in it and changed and expanded our understanding of the universe, but he came nowhere close to understanding it. 500 years later we know so much more, but we still have no real understanding of the how the universe works.

Using the eplaya to learn about BM is similar. You know a few things and suspect you understand, but you don't really. You can analyze and reduce things to formulaic neatness (big cities ... connection etc) but it is not real understanding.
I will not disagree with you on this point, but I am an engineer that loves to analyze data. I will collect as much as I can, analyze it from every possible angle, and then make a decision. For this particular case, the decision will probably be a purely emotional one, but I have serious problems just jumping in without all the thought up front. The one thing I can guarantee is that if I do come to BRC, I will not come unprepared having done so much research, I believe it is much better to study and prepare rather than be a burden.
HughMungus wrote:
stargeezer wrote:To save many of you from telling me I just don't get it, you are right, I don't get it.
Did you go alone or with friends?
I have not yet attended the event for a variety of reasons, and was just commenting on what I have seen on this board. Pre-event there is a lot of excitement and anticipation, but post-event there has been a lot of disappointment and frustration. This is not as simple as just walking across the road to see what is going on, I know this event would require a huge investment of time and money to attend, and I am simply trying to determine if I really want to put the effort into it.

I was especially distressed when I read the post where some were wanting to charge registered theme camps for reserved locations, and an additional charge for the larger rigs that carry all the equipment into these camps, and then use this new source of funds to reduce the cost for individuals. It seems even in BRC there are people that have entitlement issues. If I were in control, theme camps that had proven they were an asset to the community would be granted FREE admission, and the funding for these grants would come from charging the individual a higher entry, but that is just my opinion.

I thank all of you for your comments and insight, please keep them coming. If I should decide to make the event either next year, or at some future time, I am making a list of people I would like to track down and thank in person. Your time is much appreciated.

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stargeezer
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Post by stargeezer » Fri Sep 07, 2007 3:56 pm

Valkyrie wrote:I heard somewhere that attempting to describe the event was like explaining the color blue to someone who's been blind since birth. In a way, that's a good analogy. There's no purchase in language that's adequate to describe something entirely outside of the sphere of experience in your life up to that point. There's the starting point on the map that you'll find here, but no far end distant point to triangulate with.

But isn't that the way of all truly great experiences?
This is a very good analogy, but I will go one step further, have two sighted people discuss the color to determine if they are really seeing the same thing. We are taught what the different colors are in school, but do we really see the same thing?

As a side note, a deaf friend asked me to teach him to whistle so he could get his dog's attention. It was a challenge, but it was very rewarding when we were successful.

If we shoould ever meet in BRC, it could be very interesting discussing our experiences and hearing the different perceptions.

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The boards are way more negative than the event, IMHO

Post by playa_buddha » Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:46 pm

I come to the e-playa after every Burning Man to help with my decompression. This was my tenth year. It would have been my eleventh, but I missed last year due to health and money issues. Someone above stated that a lot of the people who come to the e-playa come to vent and kvetch, and I'll admit, it does depress me a little bit because my experiences have always been so overwhelmingly positive that I quickly forget about the little negatives. The people at the event are in the moment, busy having fun and participating, for the most part. I see very little, if any, of the negativity you see on the boards at the event itself.
Please don't let the negativity you see on the board prevent you from experiencing Burning Man. For every dust storm, yahoo, or quibble, there are a thousand wonderful things and interactions.
What we do in life echoes in eternity - Maximus Aurelius

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Post by pinemom » Sat Sep 08, 2007 6:43 am

howdy StarGeezer!
Yes my dear, the e-playa post burn can sometimes syke a person out...especially if one person who doesnt handle the burn or decompression well doesnt keep his/her mean words to oneself.
Please dont let one persons expectations ruin the idea of you coming or not!
See thats the trick! Lose all expectations...so if your not expecting something to happen...boy will it!
Expectations, shitty circumstances and bad feelings MUST be left at the gate before you enter, they just have to be!
Come into the event like a virgin child, who hasnt ever tasted candy...thats the true way to be.
One of the best things about burningman is you can finaly truely be who you wanna be. YOURSELF! The real you, that no one can say you cant do this or ya cant do that. Your burn is your own!
Please come next year!
Love pinemom
P.s. and yes open invite from the BOOBY BAR as well
Names pinemom, but my friends call me "Piney".

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Post by OregonRed » Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:27 pm

StarGeezer-
Eplaya is only a tiny, little representative of the overall populace of Black Rock City.
After seven Burns I have given up on trying to explain the appeal to those who have never been... The reasons we go and subject ourselves to the harsh desert environment are different for each individual. Some go for the art, some for the community, some for the party, and some for the challenge of surviving the desert. Each of us has a slightly different view of BRC, because we are different people with differing perceptions. There is but one recurring idea... You get out of it what you put in.
Only YOU can decide if Burningman is for you. The experience is life changing. I have learned so much about myslef each year I've gone, and each year I look forward to discovering new facets to myself that I don't believe that I could find at home in the default world. That said, each year I meet people who are not ready for the experience and radical self-discovery that is inevitable in such a difficult environment.
I hope that you decide that it is an experience that you would like to have but, if you don't, don't feel too bad... It's not for everyone, that's what makes it great for those of us who thrive there.
M*A*S*H 4207 We're not doctors.

"Just be yourself. All the good personalities are taken." stolen from my amazing friend Dwayne Gerken's fb status post.

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Post by gyre » Sat Sep 08, 2007 5:10 pm

"Because it's there."
was a throwaway line by Hillary, but it may be the most profound reason to do anything.


Don't take 'you had to be there' as an excuse for not attempting to describe the event.
Every person's version is different, but you learn enough to know if you want to meet the people out there.

I'm from a large city.
I'm not sure how that makes a difference.
I'm in SF at the moment and just a while ago I told an sf asshole to go fuck herself.
My first one.
Cities can be harsh.
"Everything is more wonderful when you do it with a car, don't you think?"
-girl by the fire, watching a tree moved by car bumper in the bonfire

It would be a shame if I had to resort to self-deception to preserve my faith in objective reality.

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