Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby JCarter » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:24 am

Howdy people!

One of the things that I've noticed when people talk about Burning Man is that there seems to be a whole lot of disagreement in regards to what makes TTITD TTITD .

From my understanding this lack of definition was baked into Burning Man as a concept but it seems to produce a problem that doesn't seem to have been anticipated. I think that this difference in vision is one of the things(but not the primary thing) that is causing a lot of the friction. People who think that 30 foot tall mech warriors are essential to the experience are going to be very unhappy if they think no 30 foot tall mech warriors will be there and will be confused and irritated at someone who believes that 30 foot tall mech warriors are totally unnecessary to the experience.

For some people, Burning Man seems to be just a vacation. Just a thing that they do that could just as easily be replaced by going to some other event. For other people it is the primary focus of their year. In a very real sense, it is their life.

For some people, Burning Man is about the people there. As long as there are Burners they don't seem to care if there is nothing beyond a boom box. For others, it seems to be the spectacle. That spectacle might be in the form of 6,000 lbs of jet fuel being ignited, huge elaborate DJ sound camps, or people beating the shit out of each other in domes but the point remains that the people are secondary to the flash and the bang.

I think that there are a whole lot of divisions in regards to what TTITD is for the people that go. What is TTITD to you? What, to you, is the "vital ingredient"? What would it have to be missing in order for you to say it was no longer "Burning Man"?

I hate to say it but for me it is the spectacle. If I want to hang out with Burners I can spend $40 and go around 15 miles due east and meet them in Manhattan or go to a regional. The idea of traveling 2742 miles just to see people(in some cases the exact same people) that I can see in Manhattan is a little odd. However, there is no place other than the playa that I can see 6,000 lbs of jet fuel, some guy basically make out with a tesla coil(long story) or a lot of my friends run around naked while burning voodoo altars(again, long story).
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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby mshaman » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:37 am

I have been asking a similar question, and the result seemed to boil down to one thing: SCALE. We can get the rest at a regional. But there is no regional I know of with theme-camps like Mal-Mart stretching 8-10 stories into the sky, new 100+foot tall sculptures EVERY YEAR (except perhaps 2012), 1000 person nightclubs bumping at 140Db, etc.

*EDIT: And for me, no, it isn't the dub-step. I'd like more sonic variety, frankly.*
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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby Drawingablank » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:59 am

I always have difficulty putting answers to questions like this, but keep trying anyway.

Burning Man is the only place I have ever felt a part of something truly awesome.

The large scale stuff is interesting for sure, but my fondest memories are of smaller more intimate things.

It is home, and I long to be there with every fiber of my body, every second of every day.
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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby RedHeaven » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:10 am

You are always so cool, Drawingablank! Always well said :)

Its a place where I can truly feel a part of something BIG and AWESOME
BMan is Black Rock Desert with a costume on (but still beautiful naked)
A place where I feel less judgement from others
A place where a homebody like me can travel the world
A place of extreme inspiration and creativity
A place where I can experience sound and sight in a new way (and I dont go to large sound camps much so I am not talking about them)
A place of abundance and sharing
A place of oddly appealing discomfort
A place of death and bacon (its not always pretty)
A glimpse of hope
A grand escape
A church
a place to work shit out
A place to party with professionals
A place to meet people that are not like me but hold similar treasures
A place to ride my bike really fast for miles
and a place to laugh my ass off and MAKE SHIT UP

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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:40 am

It's definitely a blind men and elephant experience.

I don't even go to the big burns. All that waiting stresses me out.

People, particularly in Terminal City. The Home for Wayward Art (I'm a big contributor.)
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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby darcitananda » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:26 pm

The setting is part of what makes Burning Man so magical to me. The desert landscape is spectacular, and sunset and sunrise are the most special parts of the day. The environment is like a blank canvas, so expansive in any direction, and it makes me think of India meeting Amsterdam on the moon. Color and texture and altered perceptions. The line between reality and dream starts to blur and in some cases become reversed. I love being able to dance in the middle of the day or to climb on things without a helmet or belay line. Biking and ambulatory adventures abound. I love taking a break from the media and having no-one be able to contact me. Spontaneity becomes a way of life. I could do without the dubstep and I think nipple tape should be banned. Actually, I'd keep the nipple tape if people weren't such amateur bikers. Some traffic guidelines would make biking more enjoyable.

I would also love to experience this dreamworld by the sea, but I think that might be too dangerous for some/most people.

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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby lemur » Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:41 pm

burning man is my chance to do things im probably 'unqualified' for at home
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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby Elliot » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:08 pm

To me, BRC is an idealized old-time village, something like the Shire in the Rings movies, and like the Elizabethan village of a Renaissance fair. Everybody contribute with their skills, and help each other like farmers used to do with barn-raisings. Of course, the actual Burning Man week is the equivalent of the annual Harvest Fair, where everybody display their finest work, make whoopee in haystacks, share foods and beverages, wrestle greased pigs, and dance in the streets. :D
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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby tamarakay » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:03 pm

I'm not one of those that call it home. This, where I am sitting in my husbands comfy recliner, where I raised my babies, where I get to shower, eat, snuggle, and play with this man that loves me beyond any love I ever thought I would receive. This is home.

I have spent my whole life in a quandary of trying to blend in and yet hoping I would somehow be noticed. A mass of conflicted nonsense really. I think what I loved the most on the playa was everyone elses absolute freedom. Surrounded by all this creativity and fun was like being given a get out of jail free card. All the rules, all the expectations of what is normal were gone, leaving this exhilarating feeling of ... Beyond. Just beyond anything I had ever known. Watching the joy. The absolute joy on the face of the girl who "caught" me on from the pier, the joy on the face of the man driving the octopus, the joy on kens face when the lotus girls fireworks started and then kept going and going and going. So I suppose that is what this event means to me, joy.
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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby Eric » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:14 pm

So far everyone has said something I agree with, but I'm not sure I can even explain to myself which detail about the event is the important one to me because they all overlap; for example the spectacle & scale are huge reasons I love it, but the small intimate moments just talking to someone for hours in a shade structure or with my feet dangling off the Pier are just as important to me.

I'm also someone who really really wants to be there (I think almost every regular on ePlaya is that way- why else would we be here year round?), but I realize it is just a vacation & I won't die if I miss it, just like I didn't die the 3 times I've already had to miss it due to work or family obligations. It's certainly not "home" for me, I'm with TK- home is with my boyfriend & my kittehs, near my friends & family; but it's also more than a normal vacation.

Hmmm. I guess that means my answer is: "yes"

One thing:
JCarter wrote:From my understanding this lack of definition was baked into Burning Man as a concept but it seems to produce a problem that doesn't seem to have been anticipated.

I think part of the difficulty in describing it comes up because Burning Man evolved organically and there wasn't any initial plan to make this anything other than to burn the Man in the desert. The 10 principles & motives have been retconned onto the early years where they mostly didn't exist, but since theme camps, sound camps, and large art other than the Man definitely didn't show up until after the move to the playa I think we'd be amiss to assume there was ever a reason to define until it was to late to do so.

Since everybody has always been free to define the Burn for themselves, there are some who assume their definition is the Event; like Fishy said- describing it is blind men & the elephant.

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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby Bob » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:46 pm

Burning Man doesn't have any *what* to me.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby H.G.Crosby » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:12 pm

its a place where normal medical ethical standards are not a hindrance to cutting edge human experimentation.
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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby 5280MeV » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:04 am

Eric wrote:The 10 principles & motives have been retconned onto the early years where they mostly didn't exist

Is it true that these principles were penned down around 2004? I was curious about this point, and I cannot find much information short of some old eplaya posts. From what I can tell, they were penned down as a sort of covenant document for regional events to sign on to in order to be affiliated with Burning Man. Using the internet wayback machine, I notice that the official website makes no mention whatsoever of the principles until 2005.

From the 2004 version of what is Burning Man, we have:

Community, participation, self-expression, self-reliance; these tenets of Burning Man are lifeblood of the Burning Man experience.


There are no rules about how one must behave or express oneself at this event (save the rules that serve to protect the health, safety, and experience of the community at large); rather, it is up to each participant to decide how they will contribute and what they will give to this community. The event takes place on an ancient lakebed, known as the playa. By the time the event is completed and the volunteers leave, sometimes nearly a month after the event has ended, there will be no trace of the city that was, for a short time, the most populous town in the entire county.


Participants are encouraged to find a way to help make the theme come alive, whether it is through a large-scale art installation, a theme camp, gifts brought to be given to other individuals, costumes, or any other medium that one comes up with.

No real mention of radical inclusion whatsoever - was it not originally all a fairly hidden Bay area artist thing? I remember being a teenager in 1995, and things not being advertised used to mean that you had to fight pretty hard to find them. You basically had to know people to gain information.

Some talk of gifts, but I have heard that it was originally a barter economy, and that bartering may have been an artifact of BLM restrictions on commerce. I remember the camp next to me in 2011 wanting to barter for my coffee, "in the spirit of the event" but as a post-principles bandwagon jumper, I just gave them coffee.

Then there are the 14 thesis of the borg2 circa 2005: http://web.archive.org/web/200602141919 ... heses.php3

All very interesting stuff at this point in time. Please correct any inaccuracies.

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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby Part Time » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:49 am

And for my one post of the year..

To me it feels like, Social art camping.... with Bacon...

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Re: Home, art, dubstep,..what is Burning Man to you?

Postby remi » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:31 am

It's a dusty place.. blood is thicker then water.. but mud is thicker then blood.
Can you at least admit that nuclear explosions are awesome!?

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