Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I’ve always been a little ehhhhhh about Burning Man, for reasons I won't go into here except to say that maybe I'm not big on some of the extremes of people it attracts -- hippies, ravers, frat boys, perverts, fascist idealists, anarchists, nihilists, quasisexuals, etc. -- who may get in my face and require me to interact with them on their terms with disregard to my own. Don't hate the playa, hate the game, I know, but I can't help it.

Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting to use that? Yeah!

But you know, the concept of Burning Man is sublime, and in the last few years I’ve met some quality folks who make me actually want to attend -- more and more folks who seem to be walking the walk with this event. Artistic peeps with grand ideas about community-building as we define ourselves as human, and who bring about positive change in the "real world" after 10 days out on a dry prehistoric lakebed.

Y’all know I love art that is community based. This is why I was so impressed to read about a group of artists that formed from Burning Man called Burners Without Borders who are working to bring bonfires back to Ocean Beach. Working hand-in-hand with the Park Service, they called on artists to create handcrafted fire pits that in turn will be installed on the beach and maintained by the Surfrider Foundation, all so that time-honored tradition of a beach bonfire -- the only way to enjoy the chilliness of San Francisco beaches -- can continue.

This is my favorite type of art in the community. Practical, and led by many completely different groups with a common human desire that binds them to a common goal, working together to do something to make life pleasant. I also like the bringing order to chaos thang for the better enjoyment of most everyone. I’ve blogged about this before, but I’ll say it again: Beauty must be accessible to the masses. The ignorance of this is one of the things at the core of human suffering.

I understand that some of my friends who attend Burning Man will tell me that permanence is not a tenet of the playa, and that having some danger (chaos) in your life is the point of the exercise, but I'm talking about people adapting those tenets to real world structure. I agree we should shake up those mind cubicles, sure, and that comfort kills, but let's give some slack to the 95 percent of folks who may not be ready to run naked with trannies whilst high on E on a daily basis, or even just skip pilates for a cheeseburger with friends or quit the job they hate but they keep because of money, but who just might be able to change their minds about community art and gain some flexibility somewhere else.

And speaking of practical, with many completely different groups working together, to do something to make life pleasant, and bringing a little order to a little chaos: the hand-wringing that Wikipedia has brought to many a teacher, blog-critic, and librarian alike may soon be remedied by the future of online reference -- Citizendium. Let's see if maybe a little dash of authoritarianism will soothe the anarchy that can be the most famous collaborative peer-based online encyclopedia, and make it worthy of the works cited page.

NP: Franco Battiato, 'Ruby Tuesday'


Blogger stardust_savant said...

Inspired blog. A very fitting first entry for your second year. Heehee, and you said y'all. And spelled it right. My half of the brain is taking over, slowly but surely.

April 1, 2007 at 8:01:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Mark said...

Re: Citizendium - it may be a little too late for any proposed competitor to Wikipedia to make any headway against that juggernaut's momentum.
Plus, I for one am a librarian conducting not much "hand-wringing" where Wikipedia's concerned - it seems to police itself quite adequately to me. And I tend to recommend it's services to at least one customer a day. Even if I do tell them to be aware of its potential problems.

April 1, 2007 at 11:03:00 AM PDT  
Blogger saudade said...

I think realistically Wikipedia is a fine resource for librarians to be recommending. But "be[ing] aware of its potential problems" is the key. I think most of the hand-wringing is from the super old guard who are, quite frankly, completely freaked by not only the internet but by what they see as a loss of librarian power. But there are a few who are rightfully freaked by how people growing up now define what is considered "authority" on a subject. I agree with you that Citizendium is going to have a hard time getting momentum, but I would feel more comfortable recommending an article authored by someone who may have written a book on the subject that someone on Wikipedia is just referencing in their paraphrase.

April 3, 2007 at 12:51:00 PM PDT  

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