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Month: March 2011

A Burner Lexicon: Nobodobodon’s Alternate Principles

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, Burning Man, and Guest Bloggers

Nobodobodon, or “Nobody” for short, is one of the Texas Burn community’s most opinionated members. After a lot of discussion, debate, and contemplation he created an alternate form of Burning Man’s Ten Principles. Below you will find Nobody’s 7 Burner Principles, sometimes called the “6.5 Principles” because the first one leads directly into the remaining six.

Nobodobodon plays his theremin. Nobody is a guest blogger on Approximately 8,000 Words and A Burner Lexicon. Photo by Jon Lebkowsky.

Genuine Self-Expression — Our events are intended to foster an environment in which we are free to express our true, inner selves, instead of what is expected or imposed by outside factors. We express ourselves through art, music, volunteerism, gift-giving, and in honest social interactions. We foster this open and honest self-expression at our events in a number of ways:

Participant-created Events — Our events are not created by organizers presenting paid performers to paying spectators. Our events are created by all attendees, and all attendees are expected to contribute something to the creation of the event, whether that’s volunteerism, art, performance, gifting, even organization, or all of the above.

Non-objectification — Genuine interactions between people occur when we treat each other as people. We will not reduce ourselves, our gifts, or our expression to commodities to be bought and sold for money, for social status, or for a “notch on the bedpost.” Gifts are given freely, with no expectation of compensation or other gifts in exchange.

Self-reliance — Self-reliance is crucial to self-expression. The more of your basic needs that are met by others, the more you cede to them your authority to choose how you express yourself. The organizers of the event provide the minimum services and structure to keep the event legal and sustainable, and to promote these values. Everything else must be provided by participants.

Civic Responsibility — Civic Responsibility ensures that other participants are able to express themselves. All participants strive to find a balance so their self-expression doesn’t interfere with the self-expression of any other participants. Additionally, participants seek to help keep events sustainable by volunteering, cleaning up after themselves, and assuming personal responsibility for conducting themselves in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Inclusion –– We seek to express ourselves honestly to all other participants regardless of differences in their background, experiences, and tastes. The only prerequisite for participation in any of our events is an honest effort to abide by our principles and guidelines. This is not just a gate policy, it’s a mindset by which we foster one another’s self-expression.

Immediacy –– The most genuine interactions between individuals occur when both parties are present in the moment, focusing on what is occurring as it unfolds. Much of the art at our events is not intended to outlast the duration of the event. Recording the sights and sounds of the event is less important than living the experience firsthand.

Eventually Nobody refined these principles even further, realizing that the essence of many of them could be combined. This led to the Three Principles currently used by Burning Flipside, the largest Texas regional event.

I recently asked him for more thoughts on Burner Principles and Burning Man community philosophy. You’ll find what he had to say below.

This is part of A Burner Lexicon’s ongoing series on the Ten Principles of Burning Man. Got an opinion on one or all? Get in touch with the lexicographer by using the comments or the contact information at the top of this page.

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at


A Burner Lexicon: Radical Inclusion

Posted in A Burner Lexicon, Burning Man, and Guest Bloggers

Everyone is given a chance to be a part of the Burner tribe. Black Rock City, 2005. Photo by David M.

Radical Inclusion, –noun, Radical Inclusion is the idea that everyone is welcome at That Thing In the Desert and other events which follow the Ten Principles of Burning Man. Though many have commented on the predominantly Caucasian make-up of the Black Rock City population, citizenship is open to all.

This is not limited to just the usual race, creed, color or sexual orientation. Many find a home at Burn events who feel themselves outcasts in the default world for countless reasons. Even more so, participants feel free to remove the masks they wear in polite society and share their freakiest, most delightfully deviant selves.

But what are the limits of radical inclusion? Some extreme behaviors, like theft and assault, must be held unacceptable in any healthy community. And just because an event is attended by Burners does not mean it will allow everyone — this is especially true of parties in private homes. This is not discrimination, but the natural formation of social groups and friend circles.  However, this principle still serves to discourage cliquish behavior and encourage the introduction of new blood to older groups.

Like all of the Burner Principles, radical inclusion functions poorly in isolation and works best when used in conjunction with the other nine and a healthy dose of common sense.

The Lexicographer has been soliciting the opinion of other thoughtful Burners on the Ten Principles. Below you will find the opinions of several, but more are still welcomed. Use the contact information at the top to submit your thoughts.

Other entries in A Burner Lexicon can be found at