The Festival in the Nevada desert called Burning Man can present us with an example of what occurs of the human being, as a general category, and history. It is an overt example of how Zizek’s ‘changing of the past’ can be viewed. So we might see also, of course, that we should note within this explication is a kind of privilege. Because what may be of some past essence is not necessarily converted, translated, transposed, or otherwise communicated directly into the present situation, to speak of such a past often defies the present understanding as it indeed works in the unreflected mind to establish the past as indeed true origins and ground. Of course, there are many such examples, but this just cam to mind, as you will read below.
Also; the incident at Burning Man that just happened this past Labor Day should not be understood to necessarily indicate anything significant so far meaning that we have turned some sort of page in the event. I myself have witnessed many tragic occasions within contexts of partying, being free, festivals and such ‘go crazy’ events.
While the origination of post below appears oddly discordant with the leading topic of Burning Man, I think the reader will understand the analogy in the end (hopefully). Perhaps where my argument leads, I retread backwards, retrograde, to make the point more resonant.
The question on the table is:
Is there anywhere on the “alternate” spectrum where the meaning in The Bible will have been lost, disregarded, or denied?
This question comes up against my proposal of two routes, two orientations upon objects. In particular, I feel that the story of the Bible is about a few people who have had a significant experience who are attempting to communicate this experience to those who are likewise having that experience, but also the Bible is the story about how people who have not had that experience deal with and make meaning of that communication. I present the explication and aspects of the situation in my book “The Moment of Decisive Significance“.
The implication is that not everyone has access to all information in the condition of potential; that the category of ‘human being’, while referring to a common sort, actual contains or upholds a definition that does not reflect the actual truth of the situation: This is not a statement upon the general ‘subjective experience’ of opinions and perspectives; the situation is not common, cannot be learned or taught through the banking model of education. but also similarly and most controversial, likewise cannot be conveyed through a critical method based in the ability of terms to convey definite and particular data-knowledge. The category “human being” does not convey a common truth across its condition; the condition whereby the category of human does communicate accrues a commonality we term (as a mark of reference) ‘reality’. In short: A knowledge may occur that one and more people may understand that cannot be conveyed to another persons (as a category group) so that they also know, even while there may be some for whom such knowledge can be conveyed. This situation also contributes to a rebuttal of the fear based proposals that assert an eventual extinction of the human being in favor of Artificial Intelligence; that is, in order for there to be a (human made, computer type) Artificial Intelligence that occurs after the ‘human’ stage of existence, there first must have been an essential Being that is human. This approach brings into question the critical method as likewise involved in a common method by which intelligence is discerned, even while it does not critique that ability for human beings to create such effective, real and actual categories which extend in to and from the object in-itself. We are thus permitted to begin to formulate what exactly knowledge in-itself may be. Of course, though, we should see that this effort is not involved with ideal turns that might occur in one’s life time, but more with the science of being human.
On a sidetone; as Jean-Francois Lyotard added a finality to the issue, one the situations that Alain Badiou deals with in his book “Being and Event” as logical proof, is the issue of communication.
In particular to the situation I present, we have the Bible: I do not propose that there might be all sorts of interpretations of the Bible, such an argument is near meaningless; of course there are a multitude of interpretations. My point is that there is exactly 2 routes upon objects; these routes are irreconcilable and neither is reducible to the other, which by this I mean that there is no logical segue between these routes. My suggestion is that the Bible tells of these two routes.
Be as it may, for the question on the table, we will leave it as the possibility that there may be a number of true interpretations of the Bible, and so Dave is asking by that question if indeed there is a singular true message of the Bible that may be getting lost in all these various interpretations.
As an answer to this question I am giving an anecdote, a kind of parable that suggests a reasonable answer for his question.
The latest Burning Man event. spawned a conversation between my wife and I. We were talking about how we both remember when burning man started, which was about 30 years ago. Personally I remember hearing about burning man but it was just another party in the desert; people on the West Coast we’re realizing that they could go out into the middle of the desert and have these crazy parties and do whatever they want.
My wife conveyed the story that she was sitting at a coffee place in San Francisco and it just so happened that she was overhearing a conversation between the man, or one of the people, who started it and some San Francisco magazine reporter who was doing a story on this Burning Man thing. She sat there dropping in on the conversation that was next to her. The man was conveying a kind of mixed feelings about what burning man had become already in about 1992 or 3; it was an “event” now out in the Nevada desert. The origin of the burning Man festival was really just a group of friends who would get together once a year on one of the beaches near San Francisco and they would hang out and the climax of which they would make a wicker figure in Burn it. The idea behind it was that they would get together and there would be no pretences just a space to kind of be free to do whatever you want and hang out.
Again this is just a paraphrase of what my wife told me and whatever actuality he may have been present for that moment or what the guy said may have been lost or altered over 25 years of memory.
For my part, I remember burning man in hearing of burning man and it was free, I mean it didn’t cost any money to attend, and it was cool because it was like crazy space, where everyone did whatever they wanted, like a big artist free space love-in. But then I remember distinctly, I think it was around 1998, my roommate and his girlfriend were planning on going and they were talking about how it was $350 for the three days, and I remember thinking how ridiculous it was that they actually had to buy tickets for it.
My wife and I continued on our discussion and she even expressed to me how nowadays there is a “millionaires Row” (I don’t really know if this is true, but it sounds plausible just because rich people want to fuck around also, and they have lots of money to do it with), where people with tons of money go there and bring there like $5000 tents and all the modern luxurious accoutrements including servants and just hang out and have people wait on them in the middle of the desert at this burning Man festival thing. My wife and I, you see, are somewhat of idealists and from an outside view the Burning Man thing has become something that completely defies the spirit of what we always understood Burning Man was. What started as a group of people getting together to escape all the conventions of society has become another societal convention. My wife and I thought that if the people that are going to burning man are really going there to be free and express themselves and kick back and dance and do whatever, then why don’t they just go out in the desert with a bunch of friends and do that? Why are they paying $1000 $2000 for tickets to go out and stay in a desert where there is security that is hired etc.?
Thats the changing of the past thing. People who attend probably don’t know what the hell I am talking about. To my mind, if the Burning Man thing is what you want, I mean ‘the spirit’ of it (The site mantra caption is : “Welcome Home: A city in the desert. A culture of possibility. A network of dreamers and doers.”), first of all, I don’t know what a city has to do with it, and second, why not just get a bunch of friends and go out into the desert (Burning Man was not unique in its original idea), and third, it sounds like an empty creed that people ‘believe in’. But the Burning Man thing has grown beyond its origins and now is something different –has been something different since it moved to the desert.
Thats just me. And don’t get me wrong: I can understand the lure of the huge festival thing even if we set aside the ‘free’ pretense; I just am not into it anymore. If I critique it, it is only because I am a crotchety old man now– LOL
Anyways again and again… back to the point.
If one looks at the origins of Christianity and how it developed, it is difficult not to be struck by not only the centuries that elapsed before we got certain dogmas that we now take as sacrosanct and obvious, but also the haziness of what actually occurred in that moment that we call “Jesus Christ”.
What we have evidence of with the Burning Man thing is what we could call “conceptual drift”. Less a conflation of memories that don’t quite get it right, it is more an actual moment of history. If it were merely some ‘memory distortion’ then people would not be paying crazy money to attend. The people who attend now believe it’s been the same event the whole time, albeit with empirical changes. Nevertheless, The Burning Man has changed its own past by virtue of the present it enacts. Just look at the site again: It is Disneyland for grown people who want to get high without being bothered. It has nothing to do with ‘free expression’; the “free expression” is already denied in the fact that it is coordinated, regulated and indeed is a commercial product for people to consume their ‘freedom’. It has become the exact opposite of the event that it was (except maybe the getting high part; why else would you run into the burning wicker man that is burning?) The ideal appears the same, but the actuality of the two events, the origin and what it is, are in actual practical terms, mutually exclusive. The ‘changing of the past’ occurs in the congregants of the event itself: They most likely will express little concern due to the fact that it is an event at which everyone gets to “be free”. It even rings eerily similar to the early discussion that argues the Christian context of freedom as the act or the thought: Do we want to be able to act as we want or think what we want? Even if I am caged in by an institution, maybe my ‘free thinking’ is what does it for me.
Think about The Council of Nicaea, the meeting of early Christian leaders where they decided which books would be accepted as True to the Faith. Think about how much time elapsed and how many individual events occurred in the development of Christianity to arrive at this council. If we look at the first 300- hundred years around the Jesus Christ issue, we find that there was no one string of thought from Christ to now, but the opposite. We find that there was a number of competing ideas about what had occurred and that these has been streamlined, narrowed, reduced, and not necessarily by some obvious sensibility or course, but often, and arguably most noticeably by cunning and deceptive ploys of argument and manipulations of power. Of course, it is possible to conflate all this history into a significance of God’s unfolding plan, and this may indeed be the case, God’s plan may be unfolding as planned; but the significant question after we grant that possibility is: How does God break through the facade of history to have a personal relationship with people? How are we to determine which individuals have ascertained what the Truth of God’s Plan might be? How would we know who to listen to? It would seem to me that in order to discern such people, we would first have to believe that the council itself developed an outcome from an exclusive small group of divinely inspired and God chosen people, and that because of their decision, individuals there after have a language of the sort by which to determine who is indeed inspired by God’s True Plan as it then is a message to convey to others. The contradiction and basic supernatural and uncritical thinking that must go into this kind of faith, indeed serves to validate to those believers the truth of the religion, which then works to further centralize, consolidate and radicalize True Believers to the message that inevitably comes true in one form or another, due to its self-fulfilling prophetic property that is and has been invested in the method of knowing God and Christ.
Is there a better description of how religions develop by negating the past that is informing belief of the present Truth? But keep in mind that I am not pointing this out as some sort of anti-religious argument, on the contrary; This is what occurs everywhere. It is a real operation that no (banking) move of discourse can alleviate.
Perhaps we have found something. The ideal behind Burning Man was freedom, free expression, and dismissal of societal norms. It developed into a social institution. Christ was first about freedom of spirit, and it has developed into a truth about the rules of how to be free.
Strangely enough, if we look at the evidence, it appears that if there is an essential Truth of any event or situation that is contained or promulgated through time, then I doubt that any institution has access to it or is able to convey it in its truth.