Tag Archive | critique

The Burning Man Bump

It is so easy to be misunderstood.

Some months back i wrote a post about why i think Burning Man is significant funologically.  It outlined a number of aspects of the festival which i think are important (from dust storms in which you safely lose control, to the replication of the theme of the event at regional burns across the country and around the world).  I was quickly challenged to put out my critique of the festival, which i have had my own run ins with and i have a lot of constructive (i think) criticism for.  I called this post The Dark Side of Burning Man.

As fate would have it, the critique got reposted a number of times and this week, because of these reposting and presumably because the festival is just about to start, traffic to my blog is way up.

If you have never been to a Burning Man event, consider going to a regional festival (which is much more accessible and cheaper) and seeing if you like it. i encourage you to consider these events, because they have a significant chance of touching something within you which makes you see the world differently.

Chat with Crystal

“The US military would win more wars if they listened to me, but they dont.”  Crystal’s claim would be considered arrogant if it were coming from almost anyone else, but my old friend and political mentor is almost certainly right in this case.  As a scholar he has studied war extensively, and particularly the pentagons fascination with automated and computerized warfare.   I asked him about the effect of predator drones in recent combat and he explained how they contributed to losing the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  By increasing the civilian casualties and especially in a way that breeds more people to the resistance to the US occupation.  He pointed out that the current military and political doctrine of minimal casualties is also central to the US failing to win wars.  You must take casualties to win. That the US colonial effort in Iraq failed to win the hearts and minds of the people because there was no connection to the people.  And that the British were much better at imperialism through sending in people who spoke the language and lived amongst the people.

Predator Drones at work losing the wars

Far more powerful for me personally was watching Crystal tear apart some of my more cherished intellectual constructs.  Crystal just finished reading Susan Blackmore’s The Meme Machine, which is one of my favorite books.  C hated it.  It told him nothing he did not know.  He considers it a reductionist distraction which does not give additional explanatory power and often leads us astray in finding the deeper understanding needed to decode real problems.  I tried to advance Blackmore’s thinking that memetic replication proved greater than genetic with the choice by human groups to move from the relatively leisurely hunter gather culture to a back breaking agricultural society.  Crystal posited instead that the growing of crops needed for brewing beer was more likely significant than this battle of ideas.

Crystal attacked the use meme as a term which did not bring anything to the discussion and we especially mocking of the language which had memes “wanting to replicate” since they have no volition.  He is perhaps the person i most enjoy feeling intellectually outflanked by.

Rabbit and Crystal @ Occupy the Banks action Feb 2012 – picture by Bob Thawley