Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

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Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

Postby jeffreybenner » Mon Nov 03, 2003 7:37 am

I am posting this as a new topic because both the commentary on Barlow's essay ( http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?t=2221 ) and Mark Pesce's essay ( http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?t=2163) seem to have wandered far from the original posts.

To recap, the Barlow essay is at http://www.wf.net/~aardvark/ee/000hold/barlow01.htm and the Pesce piece is at http://www.tripzine.com/articles.asp?id=mcburners

Barlow is the founder of the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) and Pesce is the creator of VRML, a regular at the Mind States psychedelic conference and all around visionary.

Here is what Barlow and Pesce seem to have in common. They seem to feel that going to Burning Man has to cost thousands of dollars. That we have to get sucked into theme camps and expensive costumes and months of preparation, and saying "Welcome home" and such.

I am aware there is a natural human tendency to want peer approval. But that doesn't mean we have to give into what some may feel as pressure to compete with the other primates who attend Burning Man. Maybe because both Barlow and Pesce are alpha males in their own worlds, they cannot handle going to an event where they are no longer alphas.

For me Burning Man has been about networking with other true individualists and cultural creatives. The pagan festivals and things like that don't do it for me, because of the uniformity of thought at many of these events. At Burning Man, if you just take the time to walk around, you can meet every kind of person. I like walking around and talking to people. I am not into preening and showing off.

I also don't have the time or money to compete with others. But nobody is forcing you to come up with the best camp, best costume. If Pesce and Barlow could just go to Burning Man and be normal, anonymous individuals, they might discover the real reason Burning Man needs to exist and serves a critical role. But I suspect Pesce and Barlow are probably the type of successful men who feel the need to be at the middle of the herd at anything they attend, which means that unless they can successfully compete with the BM silverbacks, they want nothing to do with it.

For me Burning Man is an idea of community which only starts with the northern Nevada event. Anybody can do anything they want at Burning Man, including ignoring the competition for attention from other primates, and avoiding the psychedelics and anything else that might trouble you. Nobody is forcing Barlow and Pesce to do these things that bother them so.

And if a greeter says "welcome home" you can say as Pesce says he wants to say, "Get away from me, you hippies, do you think you’re at Rainbow Gathering?"

If Pesce wanted to say that, then why didn't he just say it? That is what troubles me about the Pesce essay - why didn't he just follow his true impulse? If you're not following your own intuitive sense, then I don't think you're getting what Burning Man is. Or can be.

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Re: Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

Postby blyslv » Mon Nov 03, 2003 8:13 am

jeffreybenner wrote:I am posting this as a new topic because both the commentary on Barlow's essay ( http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?t=2221 ) and Mark Pesce's essay ( http://eplaya.burningman.com/viewtopic.php?t=2163) seem to have wandered far from the original posts.



I believe it's called a conversation.
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Re: Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

Postby Rob the Wop » Mon Nov 03, 2003 8:48 am

jeffreybenner wrote:Anybody can do anything they want at Burning Man,


Not anymore. And as it gets bigger, the less freedom of action you will have. I'd like to bring my guns and shoot at flaming sheep that are shot out of a catapult while smoking a fattie. Nix on all of the above in our "kinder, gentler" Burning Man. It's the price paid for increased size and media attention.
Last edited by Rob the Wop on Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Isotopia » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:08 am

Mix on all of the above in our "kinder, gentler" Burning Man. It's the price paid for increased size and media attention.


Yep. Notice the drawing back of huge fire spectacle and filling the void with nice, sparkly fireworks.
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Re: Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

Postby jeffreybenner » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:17 am

Rob the Wop wrote:
jeffreybenner wrote:Anybody can do anything they want at Burning Man,


Not anymore. And as it gets bigger, the less freedom of action you will have. I'd like to bring my guns and shoot at flaming sheep that are shot out of a catapult while smoking a fattie.


Nobody is forcing you to bring the catapult, guns, and sheep to Burning Man either. There is no obligation to turn your attendance at BM into a thousands of dollars, hundreds of people-hours commitment.

If Barlow/Pesce don't like the resource commitment, then they can just ignore the competition between theme camps and costumes, and take the event in a whole different direction, by just being themselves, as trite as that might sound.
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Postby Badger » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:20 am

...whole different direction, by just being themselves, as trite as that might sound


I don't know that it'd be a whole different direction. I find that most of the people I know and have hung with over the years are people who create their own 'special' spectacle just by being themselves often without costumes, props or massive encampments. Not atht I have any aversion to the latter its just how things have always worked out for me.
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Re: Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

Postby Alpha » Mon Nov 03, 2003 9:41 am

somone say my name? :-)

jeffreybenner wrote:Here is what Barlow and Pesce seem to have in common. They seem to feel that going to Burning Man has to cost thousands of dollars. That we have to get sucked into theme camps and expensive costumes and months of preparation, and saying "Welcome home" and such.


I suspect that if nobody spent the time and money on theme camps, costumes and art, that Burning Man would not be anything like it is today. It would just be a bunch of "normal, anonymous" people wandering around dusty campsites.
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Re: Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

Postby rogue agent » Mon Nov 03, 2003 12:28 pm

jeffreybenner wrote:Here is what Barlow and Pesce seem to have in common. They seem to feel that going to Burning Man has to cost thousands of dollars. That we have to get sucked into theme camps and expensive costumes and months of preparation, and saying "Welcome home" and such.


What they have in common is they both came at Burning Man with expectations and both were disappointed when it didn't conform to their view of what it should be.

Barlow's thinks we should stop wasting our time on frivolous partying & become political. He misses that in the process of planning for our party we're working on building communities. In the process of throwing that party we're exposing ourselves to a multitude of viewpoints which provides us a much wider frame of reference & lets us make better decisions. And along the way we're learning self-sufficiency & self-government, invaluable in politics.

Pesce thinks we're becoming a cult, creating our own mythology, deluding ourselves that what we do actually means something & leading ourselves down the road to some place dangerous. I think as long as we avoid coercion & deception (the cornerstones of Lifton's 8 Points), we're in little danger of that (not to say there aren't other pitfalls to be avoided).

Anyway. that's my rant for the day.

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Re: Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

Postby jeffreybenner » Mon Nov 03, 2003 12:45 pm

rogue agent wrote:
jeffreybenner wrote:Here is what Barlow and Pesce seem to have in common.


Pesce thinks we're becoming a cult, creating our own mythology, deluding ourselves that what we do actually means something & leading ourselves down the road to some place dangerous.


Pesce has responded to me privately. He knows we're talking about this in this forum, and can speak for himself, but the gist of what he told me is that I misread his essay, and that what he meant to say was that BM has become an uncreative, mechanical display masquerading as creativity.

This is a paraphrase and he can correct me if I'm wrong.

I responded that I thought he had made a personal aesthetic judgment and presented it as an objective assessment of the community.

I also think that just because some people do X-Y-Z at Burning Man doesn't mean Burning Man is all about X-Y-Z. It is whatever YOU bring to it. It is not a spectacle, it is an intentional community requiring proactive participation. (Sorry about all the buzzwords.)
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Postby joel the ornery » Tue Nov 04, 2003 2:44 am

The only constant is change.

I recall driving through the DPW/little man burn just before the MAN arrived the next day. No more moronic fun like that, no fires on bare playa... (sheesh we might burn some dirt), no driving crazily over the embers laughing maniacally... (BLM has to save us from ourselves), and far less self-reliance/responsibility/respect to everyone/thing around us.

Burning Man has changed... oops, it just changed again and again and again...
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Re: Barlow and Pesce as alpha males

Postby technopatra » Thu Nov 06, 2003 10:44 am

rogue agent wrote:
Barlow's thinks we should stop wasting our time on frivolous partying & become political. He misses that in the process of planning for our party we're working on building communities. In the process of throwing that party we're exposing ourselves to a multitude of viewpoints which provides us a much wider frame of reference & lets us make better decisions. And along the way we're learning self-sufficiency & self-government, invaluable in politics.


Excellent point! Here's another one - a themecamp acquaintance of mine made the following observation about Barlow's essay:

"At the core of this critique is the assumption that there are thousands
of potential radical political leaders who focus their yearly energies
on art car construction rather than on political organizing and that
they are therefore missing the opportunity to make the world a better
place. Though I do know certain souls who spend a fantastic,
disproportionate amounts of time on the construction of DJ booths, the
vast preponderance of Burners I know are politically active, motivated
and aware citizens."

My guess is that the percentage of informed & involved in our community(ies) is much higher than in the "mainstream".

My biggest issue with the essay was that it was all bitch, no action. Assuming (as he did) that none of these Burners had any political interest or knowledge, where were they supposed to start? I am all for telling folks to look outside the bubble, but there has to be a next step.

Like this:

Become more informed about local, state and federal legislation BEFORE it it signed, and about candidates by their records, not their personalities:

http://www.spur.org/default.asp (SF Bay AREA)
http://www.citizen.org/
http://www.dnet.org/

Voice your opinions to Congress, the easy way:

http://www.aclu.org/TakeAction/TakeActionList.cfm?c=242
http://www.moveon.org/
http://act.greenpeace.org/

And above all, stop getting all your news from TV and conservative newspapers! They are overwhelmingly biased towards right-wing corporate/political interests, even here in SF:

http://www.thenation.com/
http://www.alternet.org/
http://www.ipsnews.net/
http://www.world-newspapers.com/alternative-news.html
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Postby Kinetic II » Thu Nov 06, 2003 10:51 am

Beware of using other services to voice opinions to Congress. I know that with the Missouri congressional delegation, if you send them emails from most of the major services they will email a generic reply saying to send it from your own email addy or they won't respond. I know one MO US Rep on a personal level and he hates form mail and the like. It's one of his top 5 bitches every time I talk to him.

Thanks Technopatra for those links.
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Barlow, Pesce respond

Postby jeffreybenner » Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:43 pm

I wrote to Barlow and Pesce directly and both of them finally responded.

Barlow completely backpeddled and said he just meant to say Burners should be more politically active. Well, sure. But that wasn't the sense of his essay at all, which was a scathing critique of Burners with its "self imposed ghettoism" and such.

Pesce held to his guns. He said he meant his piece to be a "wakeup call" to Burners. He has a sense, which he did not do a good job in my opinion explicating, that Burning Man is capable of being a generator of novelty (in the McKenna-esque sense) and that it is becoming a boring event. He is a very idea-oriented, intellectual gentleman who really wants to see new ideas arise out of Burning Man, and is not willing to give up on the event.

I think in some sense I understand what he is saying. I do think Pesce lost more people than he gained with his comments about cultism and franchising.

If you want new ideas to arise out of Burning Man, my answer would be, bring them to Burning Man. Make a new camp, a new cultural movement, a new art installation that challenges people.

Maybe Burning Man needs a cultural terrorist network?

I think there are more thinking people at Burning Man than any other gathering I am aware of. Could there be more leaders and fewer followers? Sure, there always could be. But the only thing I know how to do is participate. I can't think of anything structurally that could be done with Burning Man to enhance its ability as generator of novelty.

So, Pesce, I am awake, I am thinking, but I don't honestly know if your essay is leading us anywhere constructive.
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Postby DE FACTO » Thu Nov 06, 2003 1:47 pm

Would it be ok if I use your post in the "war what is it good for" thread as an answer to Kelly?

aw heck

I'm gonna use it anyway.
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Postby Kinetic II » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:05 pm

Cultural terrorist....

Somewhere in a nondescript warehouse outside Reston, VA, an individual contributor is scanning the trillions and trillions of things flying across his screen. He sees his monitoring software make a "hit" on a post in the BM eplaya and flags it for his superiors to look at later in the day for further investigation by FBI terrorism teams.....

And this is how things get started sometimes.
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Postby DE FACTO » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:09 pm

as stupid as the FBI and CIA, NSA and others are.....they'll do what they want to do anyway.

I know from experience it is not in thier best interest.
even though...........
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Postby Badger » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:27 pm

Could you elaborate rather than just throwing out semi-comprhensible statements?
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Postby DE FACTO » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:30 pm

Badger wrote:Could you elaborate rather than just throwing out semi-comprhensible statements?


is that for me?
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the cultural war

Postby jeffreybenner » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:31 pm

Kinetic II wrote:Cultural terrorist....

Somewhere in a nondescript warehouse outside Reston, VA, an individual contributor is scanning the trillions and trillions of things flying across his screen. He sees his monitoring software make a "hit" on a post in the BM eplaya and flags it for his superiors to look at later in the day for further investigation by FBI terrorism teams.....

And this is how things get started sometimes.


google search on "cultural terroris[mt]" turned up 2,600 hits. The boys in the Bavarian Illuminati have their hands full.

If you don't control language, the language will control you.

Strike a blow for dominance of the memetic battlefield. They want you to censor yourself because it is almost certain they could not censor you.

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Postby Badger » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:32 pm

is that for me?


Um, often times when it comes e-fucking-mediately after a post it usually is.
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Postby DE FACTO » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:36 pm

Badger wrote:
is that for me?


Um, often times when it comes e-fucking-mediately after a post it usually is.


Oh lets say like placing bugs in philidelphia mayors offices, letting planes fly into buildings. the list goes on.
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Postby Badger » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:39 pm

Oh lets say like placing bugs in philidelphia mayors offices, letting planes fly into buildings. the list goes on.


And with that I'm supposed to feel more enlightened - more informed - as to what your perspective is?
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Postby DE FACTO » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:45 pm

Badger wrote:
Oh lets say like placing bugs in philidelphia mayors offices, letting planes fly into buildings. the list goes on.


And with that I'm supposed to feel more enlightened - more informed - as to what your perspective is?


Ok let me try again in simpler terms.

Since it seems that know one has noticed, "these folks" that have nothing better to do with thier lives other than to monitor you and me and make tons of trouble in the world for thier own benifit do whatever they want because the average dumb dumb belives what ever "these folks" put in front of them.

it's why america is in the shit that they are in today.

is that any clearer for you? I'm not gonna make myself any clearer so not to get myself in any trouble.
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Postby Kinetic II » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:48 pm

All of a sudden I'm thinking of the "I like to watch" clip that was floating around the old eplaya.
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Postby DE FACTO » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:49 pm

Kinetic II wrote:All of a sudden I'm thinking of the "I like to watch" clip that was floating around the old eplaya.


hey have you ever heard the song?
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Postby stuart » Thu Nov 06, 2003 2:57 pm

re: the pesce stance.

Lets assume for a moment that every year at BM nothing new seems to happen. You see the same basic config, the same basic building vernacular, even some of the same art cars and installations year over year. Even if this is the case, I don't think it is, what IS happening that is new and fresh is that new and fresh people are coming. Even if the event does not seem new to the jaded vet, it is generating new thoughts by the tens of thousands on an individual level in all those rookies (this is not clear so, more mathematically explicit; 5K rookies*20 new thoughts or ideas per rookie = a whole lotta new stuff). Every virgins mind is uncharted territory. Those people, not universally certainly, then go home with a new spark. That's fuckin valuable.
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Re: Barlow, Pesce respond

Postby rogue agent » Thu Nov 06, 2003 3:23 pm

jeffreybenner wrote:Barlow completely backpeddled and said he just meant to say Burners should be more politically active. Well, sure. But that wasn't the sense of his essay at all, which was a scathing critique of Burners with its "self imposed ghettoism" and such.


I think Barlow looked around & saw nobody being politically active at Burning Man and took that to mean that Burners weren't politically active off the Playa as well. Which is not true.

Pesce held to his guns. He said he meant his piece to be a "wakeup call" to Burners. He has a sense, which he did not do a good job in my opinion explicating, that Burning Man is capable of being a generator of novelty (in the McKenna-esque sense) and that it is becoming a boring event. He is a very idea-oriented, intellectual gentleman who really wants to see new ideas arise out of Burning Man, and is not willing to give up on the event. I think in some sense I understand what he is saying. I do think Pesce lost more people than he gained with his comments about cultism and franchising.


If that's what he meant, it was an unfortunate phrasing but I'm still not sure I completely agree with him. I'm all for an influx of novelty & spontenaity, but I think some of what he misses is a necessary tempering of the no-holds-barred "wild ealy years" when Burners could get away with just about anything. With 30,000 Burners and the increasingly watchful eye of BLM & other authorities, some of that has to be sacrificed to keep the event from erupting into damaging chaos.

To me Burning Man is a study in Chaos Theory, imposing just enough structure to maintain order without imposing so much that the waveform collapses into dull predictability. As we grow & add new people & ideas into the mix, where is the new tipping point between order & chaos? Is there a point where it has none of the original flavor anymore, where it's all rote, rules & profit? I hope not, & I'll do what I can to prevent it.

Life is change. Get used to it.

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Postby DE FACTO » Thu Nov 06, 2003 3:29 pm

This is something that needs to be repeated continuously.

Life is change. Get used to it.

RA
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Postby Kinetic II » Thu Nov 06, 2003 3:53 pm

DE FACTO wrote:This is something that needs to be repeated continuously.

Life is change. Get used to it.

RA


A good quote however I am big on security, stability, familiarity, and comfort. Life might be full of change and in some circles it's a daily, even minute by minute experience. But there's no rule that says I can't delay it either. Procrastination has it's place as does keeping some things the same because they work or you just like it that way.
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