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Podcast 572 – “A Tribute to Larry Harvey”

station description Psychedelic Salon
Psychedelic Salon
11 Listens
Duration: 59:32
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Guest speaker: Larry Harvey

[NOTE: All quotations are by Larry Harvey.]
“Milton Friedman once said, ‘Only a crisis, real or imagined, produces real change.’ When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that a
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Guest speaker: Larry Harvey

[NOTE: All quotations are by Larry Harvey.]
“Milton Friedman once said, ‘Only a crisis, real or imagined, produces real change.’ When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic mission: To develop alternatives, and keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”
“You can’t base the core of a culture on sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. Only an adolescent will tell you that.”
“The fact of the matter in the Sixties, at least the Hippie part, were avid consumers. They were happy consumers. The only people who came up with a critique of it later on were the Punks. As unattractive as they were, they figured out what the essential problem was. They would not sell out. They would not be commodified.”
“You are not going to create community unless you struggle together with other people. You will not create community unless you face survival with other people. Community isn’t about sentiment. It’s not about Kumbaya. It’s not about loving other people., per se. It’s about struggling with them, because only when you struggle together for survival with other people do you begin to see their soul. That’s how it’s done.”
“The Sixties were America’s great recess.”
“If you want a stage at Burning Man, build it yourself.”
“We’re not hiding from the world, we’re trying to change it.”
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Snippet Transcripts
I don't know. Well, annually we build a temporary city, uh, on a prehistoric lake bed in the wilderness of Nevada in the U. S. And, uh uh, it now has a population annual population of of approximately 70,000 people. And, uh, and it is a city. It's not just a festival ground. In fact, people live in it. It's many things at once. It's a, uh, the world's largest interactive art exhibition. Uh, it's a wilderness camping trip at the same time and a place subject to vicissitudes of nature that are, uh, frequently awe inspiring and, uh, and sometimes appalling. And, uh, so it's a It is survival camping, even as it is also, uh, cosmopolitan city. You have to remember, this is created largely by participants. You know, uh, it's not a big name stars, you know, playing a massive crowds. Uh, if you want to stage at Burning Man, build it yourself. If you look at it as an entrepreneurship, which we didn't really, we looked at it as a project are non profit is called the Burning Man project, something we do together. But from that standpoint for ours is one of the biggest success stories in the postmodern era, you know, to start from something so simple and now to be global in scale and growing fast. Uh, I don't think that's a bad thing. I we never saw it as a retreat from a society. We never saw it as a refuge from society. Well, maybe some people have, but I haven't and the people who let it. And I never thought that way. We thought that those values combined represented potential for a good way of life. We're not hiding from the world. We're trying to change it when people go to burning man and they're so moved that they want to go home and be as they were at Burning Man. Find a way to be that way outside the event. Now, if it were a consumer event, they wouldn't have that feeling. This isn't so much about transactions, it's about transformation. And so they asked for some guides, some credo, some something because without the customs that had grown up in the in the in the surrounding environment of Black Rock City, they were at a loss. They didn't know what to do and given the principles, they said, Okay, now we can talk to one another, and now we can share ideas. And it's made coherent just by these these these simple ideas. And, uh uh, So we formed, uh, we're now a nonprofit. We started out we were limited liability company for years, and myself and my partner is owned it. We surrendered our ownership and transfer it to a nonprofit. Its mission is to seek out anything that acts and behaves like our culture. Whether it's in our lineage or not doesn't matter. And to find those embers wherever they are and blow a little oxygen into them and and and fan that flame. We have now seen incredibly diverse array of activities that have united people, uh, in various places that that, in fact, if looked at through the lens of the 10 principles to define that way of life in unexpected ways, uh, you know, philosophy should address what makes life worth living
We came out here for other worldly reasons, and in order to persist and build the city, we, uh, discovered that were responsible for thousands of people and that certainly at that point you quit being Peter Pan and this this were merely an escape from reality. Uh, it would be that would be a very depressing fact. People come back and they go back to the default world, which is a funny word, because it's as if the source code determines that the world is what it is, and it automatically resets itself. But out here, everyone discovers that they can that they can express what is utterly necessary feels essential within them. But they can reject it out in the world. They can summon up a vision themselves. They can find creators, then to make that vision into substance, and they can make their own world in effect. We made our own world, and all of you are engaged here today making your own world. But you're making it together with others. Now you can go back to the so called default world and be greeted by an entire community of people around. You have shared that experience. So what's stopping you from What? What what's stopping you from re fashioning that world? We've
sorry that Marion Goodall told at Plank Norte in 2000 and 14, and US burners know her as Maid Marian, who is the CEO of the Burning Man organization and was Larry Harvey's significant other. Now this story is just one of countless other stories, like it stories that have been repeated around the world by people who have come away from the play area with a new spirit and then put it into practice back in the default world. So here's maid, Marion, the thing that I think is really worth thinking through, and you have to have these experiences to really understand it. But this is a powerful places. To be here for eight days or more is incredible. In fact, in my book to be here about three or four days or more is great. Um, anything shorter than that is kind of short unless you've been here before. If you've done it before and you come in for two days, I feel like you're fine. But if you're a newbie and you come in for two days, I think you're like you're selling it short. What's the point? Seriously, you're not even acclimatized. You're not even acclimatizing. Still getting dehydrated. Yeah. Yeah, there's no point. Um, when we look at regional events around the world, we really encourage the ones that are three days or more. We really encourage that. It takes enough time to sort of come into a culture, look around and realize how you're supposed to act and what you're supposed to do Start doing it and do it enough so that when you leave, you were your habits are formed the way that you leave no trace and take care of your trash in the way that you live in immediacy and self reliance. Um, but things like burners without Borders. I was in Katrina. Burners without Borders were born out of Katrina, and you wouldn't We didn't know this was gonna happen. The organization didn't know. But when burners left here, who was here on site when Katrina hit? Um, right. So we were all here on site. I would say it was there was 50,000 or so people here, maybe 49 and everybody heard right away there was a hurricane hitting New Orleans. And so by the time everybody left, people were leaving money. Their media mecca they were leaving donations. And, um, some folks from the d. P. W. A gentleman who had a crane went down to galaxy because his girlfriend's father had helped build a Buddhist temple that they had taken time to raise money for for several years. And it had just been finished, like 11 days previous. And so it was one spot with one crane and another burner went down and sent us, said, We're down here. And so we created Katrina at Burning man dot com and anybody No, make me cry. It was It was It was It was. It was self organized. The organization didn't organize. What we did is we have an email address and burners could find the other burners, and they did it without any formal leadership, and the leaders showed up. The people of the heavy equipment became the leaders, and the group met each morning, and at one point they maxed out around 80. But they had they had 80 people come and go at different times, and the camp typically had 25 to 40 people and they used burning man values. They used the values of leadership they did not do deep into consensus because they were in the middle of a war zone, so to speak, in his disaster area. And we got emails saying This is burning man and they had people joining the group who had never been to burning man, who then subsequently went to Burning Man. And they didn't put 10 principles up on the wall. They just use what you would use to get a theme camp going. They made sure that take care of everybody. They orientated everybody. And every day the group went out and took away detritus from the poorest people in this small town outside of galaxy. After they were at the temple, they moved to this tiny town and in the West. On Friday and Saturday evenings. They took the day off and they took the detritus and they made art. And they talked with people in this little town how to make art. And they used drills and they used headboards, and they had frames from picture frames and turning things that would turn when the heat, the heat it up. And so they worked hard. They did community service. They engaged in their own camp. They taught others And then they celebrated by burning things, and they invited the town on Saturday, Saturday night and they'd have a potluck. Nobody told them to do this. Nobody had a list. We just did it as we would do it and we were here. And that's what gets me choked up about. How can we make this happen here? We can find those opportunities outside of Black Rock City and generate those experiences and invite other people into them. That one lasted for five months, and it had one burning man staff member there that after a while, he said, I'm willing to stay five months if you kick me a couple of grand so that I can help take care of everything here. And we did. And so I feel like that's a great starting point burners without Borders type work is different from going out and celebrating, but it is real community work where you can actually, by doing help, people see what it is that we are and who we are
I can't really use your cell phone, right? Uh, so it's it's It's a retreat from from the normal world, that's for sure. And, uh, And while you're there, uh, well, we have 10 principles. They emerged from our own experience and and they describe are interesting principles. Uh, radical self expression. Uh, which means you just have to decide what makes you real and put it out there and, uh uh, a radical self reliance, but at the same time, communal effort And that founded on the idea that you define yourself in this world to your relationships with others and through I spoke of that experience of mastery that the sense of flow in which you work with others and they in turn work with you. And finally, that creates a kind of community reality that makes you feel that you belong. I mean, people came who wanted to create art? Uh, yes. And are And where the largest interactive art exhibition in the world. And, uh but we say we have a saying if people come for the art very often, but they stay for the community. And if you look at the art, if you look beyond. There's a lot of spectacle and a lot of very, very ambitious things that require armies of artists to do. And they're very organized, self organized. And, uh, but if you look beyond that, you see that, uh uh uh, it says a lot about about social organization. In order to do that, they have to fund raise, we give out grants, but they fundraise and that creates huge communities of people contributing to the to a work of art that's going to appear at the event. And, uh uh, it's a funny thing all these years. Yeah, we never said this. This is just culture and operation, and it was never spoken. No artist artist group has ever signed their work. Isn't that extraordinary? Amazing. Uh, we never told them that we did sit and feel necessary. Well, we did say, and this is maybe the most essential. Like we did say, this is devoted. It came out of a bohemian world where people actually are very generous about giving things. You go to an artist studio and your eye keeps dropping on that one thing. Finally, the artist that you want it I'm done with, I made it already. I'm doing something new and the joy of creation was mine. You can take it. That's right. That's exactly we took that attitude. We plucked that out of Bohemia, and then we, we, we we organized the entire city around it. And so we're It's devoted to acts of giving which, which which do not contemplate a return. We just took taking transactional economics out of it. Well, some people say something. Here's what's interesting. Some say, uh, it's therefore a kind of anti capitalist coming together. And yet, at the same time, the people who come are some of the most successful capitalist in America who come for the experience. Okay, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, take the high tech community. Take all kinds of people in the venture capital business who come there for something else. Community autonomy. That's right. Well, we we never said we were anti capitalist. I know you didn't say it, but I mean we did because that we didn't that we we did say that we think we need to critique and get away from consumerism. Yeah, which is another proposition altogether. And, uh, everything is about buying something. Everything is about buying something. In fact, your entire identity is invested in what you consume, and and we said that's a that's not an authentic life and it looks like we were right because people are coming from all over the globe to see what that feels like.
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