This Is Burning Man

Share your views on the policies, philosophies, and spirit of Burning Man.

This Is Burning Man

Postby Leo » Wed Sep 22, 2010 2:13 pm

I just finished reading "This Is Burning Man", by Brian Doherty. (copyright 2004, Little Brown and Company)

Having attended Burning Man in 2009 and 2010, I enjoyed reading the history of this event and following the evolution of Burning Man from the initial 1986 burn at Baker Beach to what it is today. I would recommend this book as a great read for anyone curious about the origins of the event.
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Postby neon tetra » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:13 pm

My girlfriend has it & I plan to read it sometime this year.

I love the opening quote -

Image

:)
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Postby burner von braun » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:59 pm

I enjoyed reading this book as well, it gave me a better sense of place at the burn. Covers a lot of history, humor, triumphs and even a few tragic moments, and attempts to explore burner psychology. If you are interested in Burning Man, it is worth your time.
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:55 pm

should be required reading for all school children...fun read and very informative
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Just finished reading...

Postby Fancy » Sat Feb 12, 2011 12:11 pm

I've never been (but im going this year damnit!). Enjoyed the book, though i'm wondering if any significant changes have occurred since 2003, the most recent burn he discusses.
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Postby Leo » Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:51 pm

I think the most significant change is a larger population. In 2010 the population of Black Rock City exceeded 51,000.
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Postby Sic Pup » Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:57 pm

.....and that the prior year was always better.
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Postby Fancy » Sun Feb 13, 2011 11:23 am

would you say the increase in populations has been more for the bad or for the better? The book mentioned that as population went up, so did "criminal activity", and therefore, police presence. i find myself worrying that as more people come out to BLC the harder it will be to create the desired environment?
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Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Feb 13, 2011 5:46 pm

The more people you have, the more criminals you have, even if the percentage remains the same.
The question is (I think) did the intimacy of the early burns and the interconnectedness of the early burners result in less crime? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was proportionally not much difference.
If you look at the number of citations given out each week, there's not a lot of crime. I wouldn't let you use that as a reason to really let go, there are enough creepy opportunists that you want to have some vigilance.

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Postby spectabillis » Sun Feb 13, 2011 6:53 pm

guess i will prefer to live my own experience and make up my own mind... outside of someone else's dramatic account in a book.

but i guess creativity and individuality isnt easy for some, much better to borrow it.
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Postby tamarakay » Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:17 pm

what a ridiculous statement.
how in the world does reading a book take away from your own experience? I had six kids, did reading my midwifery books before i had my first one take away from that experience too?
for heaven's sake. i think you are trying to hard.
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Postby LeChatNoir » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:33 pm

Might put in place some preconceived notions...

That being said, I still enjoyed the book, but didn't read it until after I'd been going for several years. Probably more happenstance than planning.
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:36 pm

spectabillis wrote:guess i will prefer to live my own experience and make up my own mind... outside of someone else's dramatic account in a book.

but i guess creativity and individuality isnt easy for some, much better to borrow it.


Yeah, that's a fairly absurd statement from someone I bet has not read the book in question. It's not a "how to" book, after all.
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Postby Leo » Tue Feb 15, 2011 3:05 pm

My first burn was 2009, so I missed out on the "wild years" on the Playa. I enjoyed reading this book as a way to follow the evolution of Burning Man from Baker Beach to Black Rock Desert. Given the spontaneous nature of Burning Man's early years, it is a miracle that it continues to this very day.
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Postby VeganChoirGirl » Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:21 pm

spectabillis wrote:guess i will prefer to live my own experience and make up my own mind... outside of someone else's dramatic account in a book.

but i guess creativity and individuality isnt easy for some, much better to borrow it.


I thought this was a bit harsh...

I agree that reading another persons experiences is no substitute, but it's certainly interesting and inspiring.
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Postby spectabillis » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:40 am

what was interesting and inspiring to you?



tamarakay wrote:how in the world does reading a book take away from your own experience?


nowhere in my comment did i say anything about taking away from experience. but of all things in all places in this world, thats a truly tragic thing to supplement like that.

not too surprising though, most people have been indoctrinated to relate through mass consumption, not independent creation. well, that and the expectations people bring in massive amounts now.. its like watching a midwestern family bring television sets, pets, and overloaded trailers full of baggage to a campground.
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Postby MyDearFriend » Fri Mar 04, 2011 5:21 am

spectabillis wrote:what was interesting and inspiring to you?



tamarakay wrote:how in the world does reading a book take away from your own experience?


nowhere in my comment did i say anything about taking away from experience. but of all things in all places in this world, thats a truly tragic thing to supplement like that.

not too surprising though, most people have been indoctrinated to relate through mass consumption, not independent creation. well, that and the expectations people bring in massive amounts now.. its like watching a midwestern family bring television sets, pets, and overloaded trailers full of baggage to a campground.


Um. Um um um you know I think I have been encouraged by many eplayans to read read read read everything I can find about Burning Man before I come out there.

Part of the radical self reliance thing. It's an unusual event in a very harsh environment; why should I not responsibly educate myself about this?

Nobody would pay real money for a ticket without SOME kind of expectation about what it represents. Unless you are recommending that newbies arrive in a state of total ignorance, I don't see where you can draw the line.

And sir I have to say that seeking the scholarly or artistic history of Burning Man prior to arriving is NOTHING like bringing along the entire baggage of a toxic suburban lifestyle. WTF? The art is what electrified me about Burning Man to begin with, and a large part of the pull is knowing that the pieces are ephemeral. I don't expect to experience last year's art or last decade's art or anything I have ever experienced before.

And I am really NOT the kind of person who would stroll into a participatory event with no information, no plan and no preparation. Are you?

Bwahahahaha, I just realized who I am speaking to here. Okay you got me, never mind, I will leave this up anyway. 8)
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Postby spectabillis » Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:02 am

MyDearFriend wrote:Unless you are recommending that newbies arrive in a state of total ignorance, I don't see where you can draw the line.


that line exists but was crossed years ago for the sake of convenience, and consumer desire which people just cant escape themselves from. there's plenty of places where people can interact with real people, like here, and plenty of appropriate reading material like the survival guide.

I just realized who I am speaking to here. Okay you got me, never mind, I will leave this up anyway


no worries, after fifteen years of dealing with turnover you see things very differently, including seeing all these reasons and justifications for movies, books, documentaries, and other such marketing vehicles just to keep many things at bman intact. thats been a big problem to address - because even when things like this book can help, they bring their costs and trade-offs too. i just think there are far better ways to go about it.


but thats only being used right here as an excuse now. in fact what you see here is being defensive against my negative social value judgment made against people without being able to own up to their internal motivations and reactions.

social insecurity is a powerfully subtle thing.
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Postby spectabillis » Fri Mar 04, 2011 7:31 am

spectabillis wrote:...i just think there are far better ways to go about it.


the spectabillis parable of the scientist and the surfer:

a silicon valley computer scientist was taking an afternoon break at the beach, watching the endless movements of surfers dancing across the waves that crashed and broke upon a dangerously rocky shore.

the incoming waves, no pattern of where they come from and where they lead to - each being endlessly split and amplified by each other. the rocky shoreline where the waves bounced back into the oncomming ones. the bending of bodies, the placement of feet, the trailing of streams behind the surfers...

all of it an impossible challenge to model and simulate, just too many variables to cope with, and even more impossible to navigate on a surf board... the scientist quickly grew frustrated and lost that his methods could never grasp it.

a surfer came out of a sand bar between the rocks, dripping water all over the scientist on the bench as he sat beside him to rest and take off his wetsuit.

the scientist couldnt help but tell the surfer all of the various observations and finally ask him, how the hell does he do it!?

"there's no secret to balance brah," he says looking at the scientist like some freak alien, "you just have to feel the waves."
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Postby Leo » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:44 am

Hey Spectabillis,
Just read the book and enjoy it for what it is: the history and evolution of Burning Man.
Best Regards,
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:07 am

Ah, but history is always contested. If this were "written by the victors" a lot of old burners might object. They can get pretty cantakorous about the changes of the years, and they personally derive a great deal of meaning from the way it was.
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Postby Simon of the Playa » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:17 am

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7ohTZm6RaA&feature=related[/youtube]
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Postby MyDearFriend » Fri Mar 04, 2011 10:26 am

spectabillis wrote:
spectabillis wrote:...i just think there are far better ways to go about it.


the spectabillis parable of the scientist and the surfer:

a silicon valley computer scientist was taking an afternoon break at the beach, watching the endless movements of surfers dancing across the waves that crashed and broke upon a dangerously rocky shore.

the incoming waves, no pattern of where they come from and where they lead to - each being endlessly split and amplified by each other. the rocky shoreline where the waves bounced back into the oncomming ones. the bending of bodies, the placement of feet, the trailing of streams behind the surfers...

all of it an impossible challenge to model and simulate, just too many variables to cope with, and even more impossible to navigate on a surf board... the scientist quickly grew frustrated and lost that his methods could never grasp it.

a surfer came out of a sand bar between the rocks, dripping water all over the scientist on the bench as he sat beside him to rest and take off his wetsuit.

the scientist couldnt help but tell the surfer all of the various observations and finally ask him, how the hell does he do it!?

"there's no secret to balance brah," he says looking at the scientist like some freak alien, "you just have to feel the waves."


Cool story but your surfer seems to be bullshitting there, since, I'm sure he didn't just "feel the waves" his first time out, he did not grow that wet suit on his back and his board does not wax itself. And I suspect he pays attention to the tide tables and the weather forecasts, too... :wink:

So far I think "Plan your burn then burn your plan" is pretty good advice.

theCryptofishist wrote:Ah, but history is always contested. If this were "written by the victors" a lot of old burners might object. They can get pretty cantakorous about the changes of the years, and they personally derive a great deal of meaning from the way it was.


Best reason I can see to preserve these books, and to read them.
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Postby spectabillis » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:17 pm

MyDearFriend wrote:Cool story but your surfer seems to be bullshitting there, since, I'm sure he didn't just "feel the waves" his first time out, he did not grow that wet suit on his back and....


whoosh
Image

yeah i take all that back, aparantly people really do need to read history rather than live it. poor people... you give them the greatest of opportunities and they still dont know what to do without being told or led.

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Postby VeganChoirGirl » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:27 pm

...backs out of chat thread slowly...
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Postby spectabillis » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:42 pm

heh... hey sorry le chat, that pic really was a coincidence :)
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Postby Roberto Dobbisano » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:56 pm

oh shut up, bend over, and sell out to the Mighty Dre. and LarryCo.


you know you want it.
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Postby spectabillis » Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:00 pm

after all these years i guess i should, better than being thrown in prison for arson.



oh no did i just say that!?
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he did int, did he?

Postby Simon of the Playa » Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:06 pm

oh SNAP!
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Fri Mar 04, 2011 2:13 pm

spectabillis wrote: aparantly people really do need to read history rather than live it. poor people...


caution spectabillis, sloppy thinking grows worse over time. Can one not read history AND live it? (What was that saying about 'those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it?') I suppose you also think its wrong for baseball fans to watch Ken Burn's documentary on baseball because, somehow, this prevents them from enjoying the game next Wednesday. Or by watching the documentary or reading a book on baseball actually prevents one from enjoying the game.

What about posting on E-Playa? Should that be discouraged as somehow interfering with the unadulterated participatory experience of Burning Man? Is that how you've become so jaded?
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