Projectraisetheroof's Blog

Long overdue: More thoughts from Nevada

Thoughts from Nevada… from scribblings freshly dug out from my grubby journal, over a month after I was there but worth reflecting on nevertheless:

Admittedly I have a tendency to the romanticise the revolutionary power of the event, the unapologetic hippy that I am, and so it struck a chord to hear a panel of boffins elevate festivity to the status of “force that furthers the consciousness of humanity”! Obviously, we can’t argue that Leeds fest lager louts are pushing the boundaries of civilisation (no offense to lager louts, or Leeds fest, of course), but these particular boffins were at the Burning Man festival in the middle of the Nevada desert – a very special event indeed.

The theme of the lectures in the discussions tent seemed to centre around 2012 – cataclysmic change is predicted (was it Nostradamus?) and the different panelists, comprising various academics and intellectuals, argued different interpretations. All a load of old superstitious cobbler, one might say – but coincidence or not, there was a feeling, an atmosphere, a general claim that civilisation must change – is changing.  And the 2012 prediction was a good ‘springboard’ for discussion….

“How will Burning Man affect a new consciousness?” was a question raised at the end of a lengthy lecture.

The replies went something like this:

Here, at Burning Man, we have largely removed ourselves from commercial exchange – we are forced to do things differently. You cannot buy or sell anything, and the remove of the desert forces us to develop strategies for survival as well as, of course, celebration! The community operates by giving and receiving – those that can give more, do so, and this looks after those who can give little. By taking ourselves away from traditional commercial exchanges, we have opened our eyes to the conditions of commerce that exist. We have begun to realise that the conditions of our reality are just that – arbitrary conditions that can be altered. We have understood that the way that wider society is organised is just one way, that exists amongst vast possibilities“.

“By creating a society, despite its fleeting and its impermanent quality, that is based around values that are different to that of the ‘parent culture’, we are planting seeds for change. A society that is based around responsibility, giving, ethics, aesthetics, if only for once a year, gives us an example of what can be achieved in a broader sense”.

“This society has shown how technology can be played with, harnessed for pleasure – the art cars, theme camps – all show us that we don’t have to let the forces of technology control us – and the ‘no spectators’ policy of theme camps experiments with a new kind of sociality. There is an evolution of the idea of intimacy, relationships. We are socialised to believe in an illusion of separateness, distinctness from other people or other types of people – this community seems to break down those barriers”.

“Burning Man is a public show of taking back empowerment by experimenting with the systems that can be used to build new communities”.

I was lying in a puddle of sweat, in the middle of the Nevada desert, swigging down lukewarm water under a flimsy canopy that was doing a crap job of protecting me from the savage midday sun. Nevertheless I couldn’t help but more than slightly inspired.

Some panelist boffs I need to look up:

Martin Ball

Moran Arf

Tony Vigorito

Michael Garfield


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  1. * Brad says:

    Interesting stuff. I would agree that the traditional interpretations of the 2012 stuff are rather out of date. I have more recently favored the idea of a paradigm shift or mass change in thinking as a more suitable interpretation. Although it seems that it is not so imminently upon us as predicted. The end of the world as we know it doesn’t necessarily have to mean a mortal end, right? I like the idea of an economy without money how difficult/easy was it to adjust to and how did you contribute? There are some great docs by Adam Curtis if you have not already seen them which I think you may find interesting.

    Century of the self.
    The Trap
    The Power of Nightmares

    They should all be on google vids in full length.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 6 months ago
  2. Ta Bradders! Ive always been very skeptical of prophecies, and there is a lot of astrological stuff that I don’t really understand that apparently means something seismic is going to happen in 2012. But I like the way that the issue can be used to bring about dialogue of, like you say, paradigm shifts. The idea that change is coming in the form of consciousness rather than a meteor hitting the planet was more subscribed to … a much more positive conclusion!

    Living without money was a crazy experience. After the first twentyfour hours I realised how liberating it was not to worry where I put my bag that would usually contain cash and a mobile phone. All me and B carried around with us was water, sunscreen, alcohol and kendal mint cake! Because we were coming from england, we were very limited in what we could bring with us and if you are in that situation you can join up to a theme camp or tour and arrange food and water with them. Everything else we got given. We took booze with us we really didnt need – there were numerous open bars and theme camp ‘happy hours’ distributing every time of drink – even champagne! We researched the festival and knew there was an important ethos of giving, in the past it had been bartering – so we brought with us a load of glow sticks and kendal mint cake. The americans werent that into the mint cake! But we went around doing our bit giving stuff, but we really felt we could have gone there with nothing and would have still been totally looked after.

    Ive got a photo of some artwork at the festival that typifies the way the economy works, how do you insert a pic into a comment??

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 6 months ago
  3. * Brad says:

    Above the text editor on the left hand side you will see a rectangle. click on that and that takes you to media uploader. you can insert the picture into you post and write around it or make it central and write above and below it. you can also use a gallery to insert thumbnails of more than one picture.

    To create a link in your posts you just highlight the word or object you want to make a link and click the chain link button, this will open a box that you can insert the web address of the link in. Always make it open in a new window.

    Sounds like a great place. The liberation from money must have been an amazing feeling. I have sent you a link to a gig of a friend of mine on FB. His upcoming show may be of interest to your research.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 6 months ago

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