cosmicgiggle wrote:All this talk of commodification and drawing lines, etc misses a particularly important point that was made back at the start of this thread; namely that the EXPERIENCE of bm is a shared resource amongst the totality of the community, both at is core and equally at its fringes.
This idea of "effort put in = reward earned" was a central tenet that everyone from BMORG to virgin could relate to in a very tangible way. It was a shared value that was the foundation of the principles that the community would eventually adopt.
Then I suppose something changed, somehow, along the way. The idea that you could use your art, your camp, your friends, etc to make a buck *behind* the back of the bmorg started to seep into the community. Make no mistake, there are members of the community who are not sincere in their efforts...people who want all of us to continue to make the event incredible so that they can benefit in whatever way as they see fit.
In some unsettling way, it is at that point that you may understand that your art, your costume, your camp, your naked body, etc is somehow being co-opted by another burner who has sold you out...and who also never asked you if it was ok to do it in the first place.
Is this considered progress?
You make a lot of excellent points about the potential ethical pitfalls of this PnP business model, I highlighted a few key phrases here so I could respond to you. Essentially, I understand that you are saying that being part of the community through effort is the best way to get to the core experience of Burning Man, that the curated committed interactions provided by some members of the community to select clients can never match the quality of interactions found through one's own effort and that any attempt the commoditize this culture, first of all, strips the experience of it's key intrinsic value and is also potentially ridiculously exploitative.
I am so in agreement with you. I want to address some of the subjects you bring up though. Members of the community who want to use Burning Man to make a buck.
I get that for a lot of burners who do it simply for the love would consider this akin to eating babies because you hear the meat is leaner. But I think that given that we live in a society that affords certain people very few opportunities to do something they love for a living, the fact that some people search for ways to make a career off Burning Man doesn't shock me in the least. Disregarding the potential ethical problems that arise with the practice in the form that it takes now, the fact that some people would go to the event and think, 'hey, I'd like to find a career in this so I can spend my work time doing something I love,' is just so obvious.
What if the future of the org isn't specifically in festivities but in supporting the community in on a broader societal scale? I'm really talking about the stewardship of organizations like Burners Without Borders or the Black Rock Arts Foundation. What if Burning Man was about things like opening up creative career pathways in the information age? They're saying right now that schools need more creativity, that workers who come out of college don't have the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workplace. I think the shame is not that some people make a buck off Burning Man, I think the shame is that there aren't more ways to do it than babysitting some rich folk out on the playa during the event. Which brings me to my next topic. Given that the non-commodified experience is the thing that makes Burning Man more than a big party in a really unpleasant environment, who's exploiting who when someone pays?
I don't think that wealthy people pay a lot of money to camp at Burning Man so that they can take their monetary privileged and lord it all over the largely middle class group of people who make up the bulk of the event and I don't think that many of them go to gawk at the spectacle. I really don't. I think, like everyone else, they go there to experience Burning Man.
If that was so, most Burner Vacation Packages wouldn't include things like silly costumes, bikes and mutant vehicle rides. Who's trying to emulate who there? Who are the people who first came back from the playa with stories of the dust, the outrageous transportation, all the crazy unique people? Who do you think is really out of his comfort zone when he straps on a furry vest/hat combo and rides off into the chaos that makes up BRC? The playa experience is fucking humbling no matter what socioeconomic class you come from.
you cope with the scary parts is always going to look different based on where you're at in the default world. It makes sense that a wealthy person who's learned that money buys good experiences in the default world would attempt to find a good experience at Burning Man by paying for it. But, if it turns out that the best of Burning Man is most decidedly not a commodity, then it sounds to me that some people are paying a shitload of money to go out there and find that out. Kind of a bummer really, I'd like everyone considering dropping a wad of cash to stay on the playa to know that even if they do have access to certain luxuries, there are ways to live which will increase the intrinsic value of the experience and there are other ways that isolate them from that value.