Booted out of Landmark Forum, Continued on the Playa

Share your pictures and video. Tell us about the sights, sounds, and scents, as well as the rumors and truths found at Burning Man.

Booted out of Landmark Forum, Continued on the Playa

Postby Mister Jellyfish Mister » Thu Sep 23, 2004 8:07 am

After graduating the Landmark Forum self-help seminar, I took the Landmark Advanced Course. On the last day I pulled a "stunt" which involved unlimited self expression for myself and got me expelled from the seminar.

For a while I was crushed. After putting things in to perspective I wanted to experience unlimited self expression in a social environment of true acceptance and that's when I was ready for my first Burn. A full week of openness and expression, sometimes touching a source of profound joy.

I still recommend just the Forum to people that I feel would benefit from it because it started me on a great path to awareness.

Have you been to a Landmark (formerly EST) seminar that you would like to stack up next to The Man?
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Postby sparkletarte » Thu Sep 23, 2004 8:31 am

What are you talking about, and what was your stunt?
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Postby PetsUntilEaten » Thu Sep 23, 2004 9:13 am

oh yes! Do tell!
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Postby Bob » Thu Sep 23, 2004 9:22 am

Speaking strictly, "est" isn't capitalized, though god knows it once was.
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Stunt

Postby Mister Jellyfish Mister » Thu Sep 23, 2004 3:31 pm

Hi again. It occurs to me that although I have only shared this story with family and close friends, I am finally at a place with this that I can share it with a wider group. Thanks in advance. I'm grateful for your encouragement.

The stunt was to sing without stopping. In the beginning, I thought I was responding to their challenge of "do something outrageous", "unlimited self expression" combined with other criteria. I guess the idea I had was that everybody would join in and I could have left the room and it would still be happening. To have an affect. Of course, I neglected to explain what I was doing first.

Some people boo'd and the instructors pleaded with me to stop, I just glared at them and kept singing, louder now with raging defiance in my eyes and spittle likely flicking them in the face. That's when I started to realize I was doing it for a completely different reason. I had had enough and was pulling the rip chord to get the hell out. They ended up clearing the room and I was off to the "principal's office" (that's what it felt like). Feeling both humiliated and somewhat pleased with myself for having the balls to stand up to the "instructors" that everybody had been trained to cower to.

It scared me to have my psyche opened up like that and to be so vulnerable, especially by people without any formal psychological training. They call it a "technology" and I am not the first to recognize the masterfully cult-like manipulation techniques. I suppose it is my own fault for going too far with it. After all, it was called "The Advanced Course". I am oddly grateful for the experience.
They called me up last week and asked if I wanted my children to attend a special seminar. Need I tell you my reply?

For me, Burning Man was a place to finish the song, so to speak. To see if the playa and the people would welcome me just as I am, in that very moment, and sometimes sing along. For the most part, I was not dissapointed.

If you're nice and tell me your story as it relates to Landmark the The Man, I might be persuaded to tell you the song that I chose for the stunt.

Sparkletart- Nice to here from you. We met & gret at the Meet & Great this year. Before I attempt to answer your very valid question (what am I talking about?), please tell me of your experience with Landmark. You see, it shares an ineffable characteristic with Burning Man, i.e., if you have not been there, it is hard to explain.
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Postby samtzu » Thu Sep 23, 2004 3:55 pm

Well, Fuckin' A, Bubba!! That rocks!!! To take a forum that is designed to 'break the paradigm' and to bust their paradigm... you learned the lesson better than the instructors did.

Now, if they had learned to break their paradigm, they would have stood around you in a circle and pissed on you to 'put out the fire'. That would have given you a permenent breakthrough. I guess they didn't get it.

Sigh... only from the outside can you view the inside... but, you know that, don't you!!!
:lol: :lol: :lol: :twisted: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Rian Jackson » Thu Sep 23, 2004 3:56 pm

i've heard of landmark, none of it complementary.
if that's true (and your second post resonates), hooray for your escape and welcome to this community!

and, of course, fuck yeah for pranks!
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Postby unjonharley » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:10 pm

That damn "window pane" keeps coming back don't it
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Postby Badger » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:21 pm

If you're nice and tell me your story as it relates to Landmark the The Man, I might be persuaded to tell you the song that I chose for the stunt.


Nah, I'm satisfied enough conjouring up my own list of songs that might have gotten the cult's panties in a bunch.
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Postby Mister Jellyfish Mister » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:24 pm

samtzu wrote:
Sigh... only from the outside can you view the inside... but, you know that, don't you!!!
:lol: :lol: :lol: :twisted: :lol: :lol: :lol:


Yeah, Samtzu. You can see how the Copernican shift suggested by the Vault of Heaven theme had so much appeal for me.
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Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:27 pm

Badger wrote:Nah, I'm satisfied enough conjouring up my own list of songs that might have gotten the cult's panties in a bunch.
Whatever goes on between those badger ears--I respect it.
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Postby sparkletarte » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:47 pm

I've never heard of Landmark. The thing I thought of first off is some sort of 'self help' 'authenticity' 'inner child' 'new religion' type of group thing. I don't do those things. They may be fine for some but not for me.

It sounds like it was kind of funny, from the outside looking in, although obviously not at the time. Way to stand up to the 'instructors'! The result of what you did is very telling about the organization. Kind of like how you should break up with any potential mate as soon as you start dating, so you can see what kind of person they are.

I'm glad you got out of it, from the tone of the other posts.

Okay, there's my story, now more details and sing the song for us, would you?
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Wow ... LOL

Postby burning tent » Thu Sep 23, 2004 4:57 pm

I had a very good friend who was into the Forum. He would proselytize. Not to a sickening degree but enough to question where his smile was coming from. He was a very good guy though and I liked him a lot. I forget exactly how he got me to go to an introductory meeting ... wait a second ... he harped on how easy it was to meet women there or something along those lines. So I went.

I didn't do well there. Something about it chafed my sensibilities. It was well over ten years ago. The thing I remember about it was after I was introduced to a line of happy-happy-joy-joy people they made me fill out a name plaque. I didn't want to. I thought I could just sit back and "observe" but that name plaque kept returning as a topic of conversation. Why wasn't I wearing one? Did I need a pen? What were all these women going to call me? Et cetera.

It was at that point that I made a rash decision and just jotted down "Buzzy". So for the rest of the evening every time I was forced into an exercise or such people would say, "Hello, Buzzy!" "Pleased to meet you, Buzzy!" "How's it going, Buzzy?!" "Buzzy, that's an interesting name!" My friend was not very pleased with me. I wasn't going through with it wholeheartedly and he felt like I was wasting everyone's time. I had to agree with him.

:-(
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The Song

Postby Mister Jellyfish Mister » Thu Sep 23, 2004 5:17 pm

OK, here's the song:

"i am i am superman and I can do anything"

Repeated ad nausium, ad infinitem.

REM did a good remake on this one on Life's Rich Pageant. Probably with less spittle, too.

Let's all stick it to "the man".
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Postby Bob » Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:28 pm

Just my opinion, having grown up in SF & Marin, from which quite a few of these "movements" vectored -- est (Erhard Seminars Training), a business started by Werner Erhard (aka John Paul Rosenberg) in the early 70s, basically retrained hippies so they could become yuppies by breaking down taboos against self-interest, self-discipline, real personal wealth, smart clothing, and other social trappings that had been popularly rejected in the 60s.

In a larger sense Erhard was one of a long line of tent preachers taking advantage of the loose social fabric of the late 20th century, not significantly different from L Ron Hubbard, Norman Vincent Peale, Tony Robbins or (some say) Larry Harvey. Welcome home!
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okay

Postby Layne » Fri Sep 24, 2004 1:50 pm

to say that I love this man and would have paid ump-teen amount of dollars to see this, is an understatement of gross proportion.

YOU RULE THE SCHOOL - I have about 20 friends who were all talked into this by one another (some of them get very upset when I talk shit about it )

I went to one meeting and vomit was literally climbing in the back of my throat... because "What you don't know that you don't know?" someone actually had the balls to say this to me!!! I'm like, "I can't believe I'm losin' to this guy?" and I left

I salute you!
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Way to go

Postby Fluffy » Fri Sep 24, 2004 3:54 pm

I've been to the Forum, Advanced course, and SELP. It was great for me when I went there, but I now realize that al lot of those 'breakthroughs' I had were things I got on my own. Let's just say that I'm 'complete' with my Landmark experience, shall we?

Anyway, it might have made more sense if you told people what you were doing ahead of time, but I still applaud you for doing it.

Back to your original questin, which was how do they compare?

I would say that I've had a LOT more positive expereinces, and learned more life lessons at Burning Man than at any Landmark event. Lot's of the stuff I'm trying to address, I can't even put into words.

One example from this last burn was this:

I walked out to the Temple with some people during one of the first (of many) dust storms at night. After splitting up with them, I decided to go home on my own. At one point the storm was so bad that I couldn't see the man even when I was only 2 lamp posts away from him. But I had a gas mask, goggles, and water.

using every available clue (tire tracks, lamp posts, most of which had gone out, etc...) I made it back with no problem. And, I felt incredibly calm and at ease when normally I would have been up tight. That feeling of self reliance and ability was life changing!

Cheers,
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Postby mars » Fri Sep 24, 2004 8:07 pm

I did the Forum long ago and, to tell you the truth, I can't really remember what I got out of it. I didn't find it mind-blowing. The people there were on power trips.

As for Burning Man...there's no way I will ever forget what happened there. It is always mind blowing. The people on power trips and other assorted are easy to ignore. And the main man is not a man!

As for what they have in common...they can both suck a lot of money out of you. And, after your first year, veterens want to know if you "got it".

Mars
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Postby mars » Fri Sep 24, 2004 8:09 pm

Meant to say "other assorted trips"
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Flying

Postby Mister Jellyfish Mister » Sat Sep 25, 2004 7:53 am

Yeah! This message board is cookin' now!

There were times in both the forum or advanced course when I was hanging out with other participants, maybe after a breakthrough when I was exhilerated and felt like just acting silly and self expressing. I recall spreading my arms out and "flying" through the hallway of the hotel just because I felt like doing it. They gave me some pretty odd looks.

Looking back on it, the reason something was so out of place was that it was not expressed through "language". I suppose you have to stick to the Socratic dialog when in session, but come on, it was a hotel lobby! To their credit, the others were likely wrapped up in their own heads at the time.

Anyway, at the burn I was walking back to camp from the porta-potties and here's this guy in front of me doing the exact same thing! Just walking and flying and swooping, as natural as can be! I said to him "I know exactly how you feel!" He was pretty drunk, but delighted when we started interacting together both in a lousy Scottish brogue!

There was another time when I overheard somebody in my camp say they liked the band called Erasure. I started marching up to him in broad daylight singing "A Little Respect". He belted it out with me and others started gathering and locking arms and laying it down at full scream! It evaporated as abruptly as it started, as natural as can be. Nobody had to reaffirm how great the experience was. And nobody had to be told "OK, everybody sing". Maybe it just was a better song. The thing with Landmark is that although it is a good starting place, you can only get so far with the spoken word. I don't know who wrote it, but I once read that Zen is a language of pointing.

Another marked difference is that everybody at Landmark promised to keep in touch and there was a lot of "all of us or nothing" promisses made and never kept. So here we are on this E-Playa, compelled to share and interact, all WITHOUT any agreement beforehand. I love you guys!
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Postby mars » Sat Sep 25, 2004 8:14 am

Mr. Jellyfishe Mr.,

You are awesome! I'd love to break into song with you on the playa! Is that your mutant vehicle at the link you sent? Very cool!

I have quoted you, and I repeat, El Wire is the pasta of the Gods"!

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Mars Bars

Postby Mister Jellyfish Mister » Sat Sep 25, 2004 8:29 am

mars wrote:Mr. Jellyfishe Mr.,

You are awesome! I'd love to break into song with you on the playa! Is that your mutant vehicle at the link you sent? Very cool!

I have quoted you, and I repeat, El Wire is the pasta of the Gods"!

Mars


Hi Mars. Thanks for the encouragement. Yeah, that's the time machine mutant vehicle on my link. I'm still looking for a good nightime photo somebody might have snapped to put on that website. Anyone? Anyone? Buhler? Capturing the el wire in full effect must require some kind of photographic skill.

Handy tip: Telling other people they should go to Landmark gives you "salesman breath".
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Postby PetsUntilEaten » Sat Sep 25, 2004 8:58 am

Breaking into song:

Now I'm not super performative - but two of my favorite playa moments were signing "Joy to the Joy" (basically the xmas song "Joy to the World" with the word JOY replacing every word). First was with about 50 people after having been served & consumed a huge sushi dinner for all - the table had been eaten clear of food & sake drunk down & spontaniously everyone started signing - even me! It took on a huge booming joyous tone in the way I've never heard the orginal song sung. The cooks were so happy & honored that I thought they'd explode.

The second time was at the hot springs after the event - about 12 of us were there when a young couple showed up with family & friends - and preceeded to get married on the spot! We just sat silently watching from the water while her father performed the ceremony. After we clapped & it became a bit quiet as they smiled & got ready to get in the springs too. So as they got in - all I said in a low voice was "Joy to the Joy"? we all suddenly burst out in song in their honor. They were pretty beaming & happy about it. Their family joined in. Yeah team!

There were other songs - made up songs - songs about campmates who just happened to walk by. It was one of the additions to my playa experience that I didn't know I was missing.
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Postby stuart » Mon Sep 27, 2004 1:23 pm

I fucking love Erasure.

there, I said it.

I remember when I first heard 'Oh L'amour' in a dance club back in the '80s. Yeah, I'm that old.
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New thread

Postby Mister Jellyfish Mister » Tue Sep 28, 2004 8:41 am

Alright! That's just has to be a new topic/thread emerging regarding spontaneous eruption of singing on the playa. What should we call it?
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Postby PetsUntilEaten » Tue Sep 28, 2004 8:43 am

Isn't this "it"?
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Re: Booted out of Landmark Forum, Continued on the Playa

Postby MoisturePup » Tue Sep 28, 2004 3:54 pm

When I was 22 I had a friend call me out of the blue one day and ask me to come to his "Graduation" from the "introductory" Landmark Forum class. I had already heard plenty about the Forum from a friend who had become a brainwashed Forum troll, and while reluctant, decided to go to show the friend I supported him even if he had done something remarkably stupid.

At the time I worked for a small company and everybody who worked there worked in the same office area. I had to get an afternoon off so I could drive down to Santa Monica where the graduation was being held. So I say to my boss, "I need to go to my friend's cult graduation, can I have the afternoon off?" he chuckles and says, "sure, what cult?" to which I respond, "The Landmark Forum." I kid you not, the entire office went silent and every head turned to stare at me in unison. It turns out every single person I worked with was a member of the afore mentioned cult. It was so a "pod people" moment!

The "Graduation" ceremony was wonderfully creepy fun. The charismatic cult leader stood up front and talked about their "technologies" and at one point draw a pie chart. A small sliver of the pie chart was labeled, "what we know" and the other 90% of that pie chart, all togethor now: "What we don't know we don't know!" All 300 or so sheep duped into attending a sales pitch by their "graduate" applauded brainlessly. (BTW: This may have been the moment I knew Bush would win the 2000 election.) About an hour into the sales pitch they marched the graduates up to the front where they had us appluad, but didn't bother even telling us their names.

At this point we were supposed to go to a room based on a "number" we were assigned when we first came in. I had to go to the restroom, so I went off and there on the wall was the most amusing thing. "Blow jobs 7pm" with the response scribbled blow it, "What a surprise, a fag in the forum." Being that I am gay, as was my friend, as was the friend who talked my friend into going, I was more than amused.

Off I went to the room I had been assigned, which was lead by a happy happy west hollywood-esque gay man. Since I was late I had to sit in the front row, merely two feet from this man telling everybody about all the excitement one can have in the forum. At this time in my life I was a LA county lifeguard, tan, incredible shape, at the peak of my game. I stared blankly at the wall, the leader passing through my gaze intermittently without me breaking my focus on the back wall.

During a five minute stretch break (and opportunity to sign up for the intro course) he approached me, obviously trying to connect with me, and said, "Do I know you?" I smiled in a friendly manner and responded, "I don't know, have I sent you my naked pictures on AOL?"

"I'm sorry, what?" he said.

I repeated, "I don't know, have I sent you my naked pictures on AOL?"

Surprised he mumbled something and then called the class back to their seats.

I knew I had him now, it was just a matter of breaking him. Intermittently I would go from long stares at the back wall, to rapt unparalled joyous attention to what he saying, all with a "I want you" look in my eye. And then he did it, in the gayest flirtious voice you could imagine coming out of some West Hollywood gay mans mouth, "I've got to talk to you after class!"

The spell was broken, he lost everybody in the room at that moment. Not a single person signed up for the course.

When he approached me after class while I spoke with a nice girl who's brother had "graduated" about how much a fraud the Forum was I just stared at him blankly along with the girl until he went away. She was very impressed.


Mister Jellyfish Mister wrote:After graduating the Landmark Forum self-help seminar, I took the Landmark Advanced Course. On the last day I pulled a "stunt" which involved unlimited self expression for myself and got me expelled from the seminar.

For a while I was crushed. After putting things in to perspective I wanted to experience unlimited self expression in a social environment of true acceptance and that's when I was ready for my first Burn. A full week of openness and expression, sometimes touching a source of profound joy.

I still recommend just the Forum to people that I feel would benefit from it because it started me on a great path to awareness.

Have you been to a Landmark (formerly EST) seminar that you would like to stack up next to The Man?
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Postby sparkletarte » Tue Sep 28, 2004 4:09 pm

I still don't entirely get this landmark thing, but I guess that's what google is for...although it sounds like it wold be a waste of time. And I also don't understand the OP- are you comparing landmark with BM? Or saying that your personal expression in landmark continued on the playa?

Did Bush and Rummy go to landmark? The 'what we don't know we don't know' line sounds awfully familiar...
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Re: ~

Postby MoisturePup » Tue Sep 28, 2004 4:11 pm

sparkletarte wrote:I still don't entirely get this landmark thing, but I guess that's what google is for...although it sounds like it wold be a waste of time. And I also don't understand the OP- are you comparing landmark with BM? Or saying that your personal expression in landmark continued on the playa?

Did Bush and Rummy go to landmark? The 'what we don't know we don't know' line sounds awfully familiar...


the commonality you are looking for in Burning Man and the Forum is found only in the desire of the participants to explore and possibly expand their mental and emotional borders. The difference is that Burning Man succeeds by believing in you, and allowing you to find your path and walk down it at your own pace. You decide, you choose. The Forum succeeds only when you pretend that the Forum knows best, and by surrendering your critical thinking and fat wads of money you will become a better person. They'll let you know when.

Gosh, I had intended to be even-handed and only emphasise the positive, and look what happened. I must do better at controlling my adverse reaction to cultish groups that use sophisticated manipulative techniques to exploit the vulnerable. I shall force myself to watch John Edwards talking to dead people as an exercise.

I am very happy to hear that the Burning Man phenomenon (an authentic, transcendental experience) was able to sweep out the stultifying cobwebs of a well-disguised counterfeit.
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Good thing gone bad

Postby Mister Jellyfish Mister » Tue Sep 28, 2004 5:33 pm

Thanks, Moisture Pup. Some great insights there.

There are lots of ways to crack open your noodle and see what's deep inside. Some people never get the chance until a true tragedy strikes and they have themselves thrust upon themselves, so to speak.

A promise shared by Landmark and Burning Man is the quick fix, life-changing event in a short period of time. Lots of appeal there for us yuppie types that get frustrated and feel guilty with long commitments to our own personal development. Still, both seem to have a pretty good record of delivering on their promise. I was at a Zen Monastary for a week once with lots of meditation, yoga, more meditation and had some pretty good insights there too, like how impatiant I can be. :?

I would not tell a frat boy who uses the word "party" as a verb that he would like Burning Man. Neither would I tell somebody who could not think for themselves to go to Landmark. I can't stand their "this is for everybody" hard sell.

I was not doing this stuff back in the early days when it was EST, but something tells me it was some good ideas that got morphed alot while they grew and grew and people got a little lost as to what it was all about.... sound familiar?

One experience seems to prepare me for the next in life, and radical self expression gets me ready to be even more so the next time. What's next for BM 2005? Singing upside down?

Cheers!
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