Gifts (the anti theft-downer thread)

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.
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Angry Butterfly
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Post by Angry Butterfly » Wed Sep 17, 2003 6:04 pm

The Bass wrote:give away the secret! down with barter!

the best gift, of course, is to give something to someone in such a way that you can see them suddenly understand the nature of giving, and you just know they're going to start giving themselves...and somewhere they'll gift someone else, who didn't really get it...and then...and etc and etc.

one year the best gift i got was from a friend who had arrived late, maybe thursday. we're in an rv next to a giant party. he starts slicing up a bunch of incredibly ripe, sweet, cool white peaches. fills a whole bowl full of them. he's about to take them outside to give to the revellers, blow their minds. instead he hands the bowl to me. ahhhhaaaa!
WOO HOO! One of my favorite experiences was making a pizza at Pizza Sluts and delivering it at random, when I was on my bike with a pizza, it just blew everybodys mind! I ended up just giving it to random people on the street, one delivering mail, so I wrote a note to the new girlfriend of a really close guy friend of mine saying something along the lines of how I could tell how much he loved her, and she was psyced to get just keeps going and going!
I took the road less traveled, and now I would like to go back and find the paved one.

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Post by LeChatNoir » Fri Jul 20, 2007 9:32 pm


Because we need to rekindle some good vibes.
The New and Improved Black Cat... now with 25% more blather

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A Jedi Definition of a gift...

Post by JediDale » Fri Aug 03, 2007 1:33 pm

giving a thing of either purpose or meaning to someone spontaneously without ever the thought of return!! Perhaps some will mistakenly confuse
"Gifting" with the Christmas tradition of "Exchanging Gifts".

I strongly believe that to just wait until the "Force" guides us to give what we have to offer is what it is all about. Now, let me saythis clearly: "A gift is not neccesarily a physical object! It could be that you give a piece of advise, or a listening ear to someone in pain, or a beautiful poem expressing your love for their art, and that may be their greatest gift recieved, as valued by them!!

Dare you do this - Give a spontaneous gift when you feel moved to do so.
Expect NOTHING IN RETURN!! The Playa has strong mystical powers and amplifies YOU!!


JediDale Of Reno

"May The Force Be With You!"
You don't have to..Believe Everything I Say...because your unconscious will hear this.
Your unconscious can Do anything It wishes..
But your conscious mind isn't going to do
anything of Importance for Now. And...My Voice Will Go With You...

Giving is Creating
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Please help a newbie understand.

Post by Giving is Creating » Tue Aug 28, 2007 1:40 am

I've never been to BM but when I heard about the whole "gifting" aspect I ran over here to read about it and start planning my first trip to the desert for Labor Day. Giving is the core tenet of my own little life philosophy; it is the most creative act I know of and if BM is about giving and creating together then I'm in.

But reading the 10 Principles gives me pause. And reading through the posts to other threads here in ePlaya does as well. So I'm asking for help in understanding how the giving part of GM fits into the whole experience and fits with the other principles.

Specifically, I'm wondering how the principles of gifting and decommodification and communal effort can work alongside the principle of radical self-reliance and all the talk about self-sufficiency and survival (as I understand these they refer to more than just the practical matters like "plan ahead and bring enough sunblock"). If you build a community around communal effort and gifting, aren't you by definition building a community around reliance on others, not just on the self? Is the insistence on self-reliance a way to discourage people from becoming dependent on or expecting/demanding the gifts and help of others? It seems to be about more than that, though, which is why I ask.

Let me put it another way: it seems to me that if you say the community is about giving to others instead of commerce and currency then aren't you clearly saying that individuals should be helped by others and should [u]not[/u] have to rely on themselves alone? Again, what purpose does the principle of self-reliance serve then? Just to keep the bad moocher people from taking advantage? (Don't forget that those champions of self-reliance, Emerson and Thoreau, were deeply suspicious of giving and charity and instructed people to reject gifts as incompatible with self-reliance.)

Sorry to blather on, but I really want to understand what seems to me like a fundamental paradox in an otherwise wonderful community and philosophy. And I know that I will only be able to get a real answer when I attend and experience for myself, but in the meantime can someone explain how these principles co-exist in peace and harmony??

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Post by theCryptofishist » Tue Aug 28, 2007 3:00 pm

A former denizen of this board used to have the tag line (okay, this is a close paraphrase, not an exact quote): Radical Self-Reliance, Radical Community, Radical Self-Expression--Pick Two out of Three.
Yes there is a contradiction between the ideas of community and self-reliance. Try to think of it as a creative tension rather than a permanent road block. This can be a very generous community (as I have special personal knowledge indicating it) but if you go to the 2007 tickets forum and look at the snark aimed at those "drainbows" looking for "miracles" we can guard our borders with ferocity.
Welcome to life. Everything's complicated, everything's contridictory. Peace and Harmony are fleeting moments not permanent monuments. The ways these interact in individuals and among groups are the data of the experiment.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

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Bin Noddin
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Post by Bin Noddin » Tue Aug 28, 2007 3:02 pm

It can seem like a paradox, G is C, but I think you need to separate gifting from barter. A gift is freely given, a surprise, with no expectation of a reward or a return. It is not mandatory. We are expected to rely on ourselves for our survival needs. Many people do this by organizing camps, sharing costs and assigning tasks, but ultimately, each person is responsible for herself. The gifts are something else, and may be large art that is given to the whole community to enjoy or something as small and beautiful as a smile. Have fun.
"I have gobs of mustard and ketchup on the front of my shirt, which does not make me a hot dog." Sam A. McKeen

Giving is Creating
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Post by Giving is Creating » Tue Aug 28, 2007 5:21 pm

Wonderful replies, thanks so much.

Crypto, yes, those sorts of posts complaining so self-righteously about the "lazy beggars" outside and inside BM were part of what worried me, even if I agree that moochers are, sadly, a problem that arise in any giving community (despite what our utopian novelists say). And I'm all for creative tension and paradox swirling in our lives in a way that makes us think and feel (and make choices!). I guess I just wondered how much the "rely on yourself" vibe overwhelmed the "give to others" and "work with others" vibe, as it tends to do in other communities that consciously tout self-reliance.

Bin, I LOVE the idea of art as a gift (and I love Lewis Hyde's brilliant book on this idea). That's a big part of the attraction here. And I get that mandatory giving feels wrong to most people (though I personally welcome the idea of giving as an obligation, giving as part of the price we pay for being members of a community--my friends who love Ayn Rand hate it when I talk like that!). I guess I should just celebrate the idea that voluntary giving is encouraged and barter/commerce discouraged, and not worry if the whole collective connection side of a giving community that I'm psyched about is not what drives others to give, so long as they give.

Thanks again.

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