A blind adherence to rhetoric won’t make something “authentic”, and just because something isn’t adhering to that rhetoric doesn’t mean it’s less “authentic”.
Transformational Experiences tend to feel “authentic” so that’s a clue, but how that sense of authenticity plays out seems rarely “cut and dried”. Defining that sense of “Authenticity” is where most people “go wrong”. Trying to incorporate space within an event, or festival for the “authentic” transformational experience to manifest is arguably difficult because of the nature of Festivity in contemporary culture. The fine line blurs when it’s not clear if the space is being provided for the Transformational Experience, or the Transformational Experience is being exploited for “marketing”.
Defining characteristics too completely can sometimes undermines the very fabric of the “Transformational” experience. To move from one template in your life to the adoption of another defined template isn’t really a transformation. It’s more like changing the facade, without considering the factors that create perception. It’s a change, but not necessarily a transformation.
Maybe the question might be: What do you mean by “Transformational Festival” ? Is the “Transformational” experience just a thinly veiled marketing
“Transformation” can happen anywhere, even the Juggalos find their experience “Transformational”. http://
I’d also go on to suggest that the “success” of Transformational Events, aren’t measured by “How Many” are involved, or “How Much” is made. I personally see success as more relevant to whether or not the event can facilitate an unmediated experience. I would lean toward Immediatism as the direction that these kinds of experiences live in. While I agree with the perspective of facilitating the democratic direction of these events, I’d add a caveat and say that these kinds of “experience encouraging” events/gatherings/experiments digress very quickly when the overarching cultural paradigm isn’t respected, and the “democracy” becomes ruled by overbearing ass-hats and sycophants.
Aesthetics begin to take precedence over experience and people seek to consume their experience, rather then create it. This can inadvertently reduce something to the least common denominator, and that’s not always a gateway for personal growth. It’s usually a recipe for drifting from the foundations of “The Community”, and ultimately from “The Cultural Paradigm” that we (as “organizers/instigators”) offer space for the Paradigm to gather at/around.
Ultimately the most valuable discovery I can share, is that it doesn’t really matter what “people” think about the event, or how it’s “organized”, or who runs it, or whether it’s a private initiative or a non-profit. It matters that the people “organizing” have a clear perspective on the cultural paradigm they are facilitating while avoiding rhetoric where possible. Without that clear perspective, any organization will crumble under it’s own weight as it drifts farther and farther from the overarching cultural paradigm while vainly gripping rhetoric or “authenticity” as it’s only declaration of relevance.
When Burn BC was initially formed, we looked at declaring things like “Mission Statements”, and “Vision Statement”, and defining things like “Community Conduct”, and found that they imposed limited personal aesthetics and definitions onto the participants. We realized very quickly that while we (personally) want, and like, people to dress up, have fun, be silly, (celebrate Burning Man) etc. The intent of project to support and participate in the cultural paradigm, could get lost in the mix and we’d digress into little more then costume parties hosting rebranded Raves.
- So we asked ourselves, what do we want to encourage?
- What is this Paradigm?
- How has it evolved?
- What is our local relationship to it?
We contacted, and met with, the people who created the Cacophony Society, we talked with members of the Suicide Club, we took time to gain insight from the people who manage Burning Man. We reflected upon our local experiences and asked how we wished to critically consider if the decisions and evolution made by all our peers who have preceded us, reflected our perceptions on The Burn, then worked out solutions that reflected our conclusions, desires, and enthusiasms.
It was challenging to focus on this when on a local level there were people who did not agree with these perspectives. We realized that taking initiative was going to cross some peoples perceptions and we had to accept that theses people either would not understand, or were unwilling to understand, the process we were exploring and why it was relevant to us, our community, and to the Burn BC Arts Cooperative.
We took the time to consider input well beyond just the immediate people we were familiar with, and considered the Overarching Cultural Paradigm in relation to various successful, (and failed) cultural initiatives. Then we asked how we wished to participate and collaborate with this overall paradigm in a way that was relevant to our local community and it’s surrounding regions.
The general thought we agreed on was “encouraging people to explore their creativity while respecting the various ways that peers might explore it” (from bland to furry).Our approach was to avoid defining the aesthetics, and instead define a Direction, and Scope.
We came up with “Creative Self Exploration with Mutual Respect of Personal Boundaries”
It was extremely tempting to just cut & paste the Burning Man Ten Principles. But without critically considering them, we felt we would be disrespecting them, and disrespecting the most notorious expression of this vibrant Cultural Paradigm. We felt that respecting the Ten Principles rather then rhetorically adopting them gave us another level of dynamic support for The Burn, without being subjected to the impositions of Burning Man. If Burning Man ever looses it’s way, Burn BC can continue to enjoy the relevance of our personal discoveries and share them with/to Burning Man in the future without being dictated by Burning Man. Burning Man can be enriched by our Creative Self Exploration, and we can continue to feel kinship with a vibrant event that grew from our culture.
We decided to focus on the Experience and disregard the Rhetoric.
That’s where the Transformational Experiences will manifest.
“Transformational Festivals”, and “The Burn” share similar memetic territory. But the blurry line is that a “Festival” facilitates consuming an experience, whereas a “Burn” facilitates creating an experience. Both are mutually beneficial to Burning Man. But “The Burn”, being an unmediated creative experience, is much more challenging for some people to appreciate, even if it offers the potential to experience something truly
~ Napalm Dragon