In physics I was taught there are four fundamental forces in nature: weak, strong, gravity and electromagnetic. After going to Black Rock City I wonder if there isn't another fundamental force which is much harder to quantify, that being the force of "imagination." After all it was a human mind that came up the elegant mathematics that can paint the big picture of how the universe was created, and it was a human mind that wrote the holy scriptures, the koran and the declaration of independence.
Which in a round about way brings me to the subject of this years little photo project, the character of "Uncle Sam" and some slightly tweaked american flags. I brought these items to remind myself and hopefully burners too, that while the United States does have a few problems, it still is a great country to live in.
For the past few years President Bush, and many of his political supporters have usurped the image of the American Flag, along with the concepts of patriotism and religion, to further their own political agenda. I for one question the sanity of President Bush and Bin Laden if they say they are acting on behalf of some kind of supernatural power. President Lincoln IMHO had the right idea when questioned the wisdom of invoking the name of god in a war, then as now some people on both sides say they are acting in the name of god.
Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged.
- Abraham Lincoln (Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865)
For the most part people at Black Rock and a few non burners we met on the drive up from San Diego, were willing to play along and allow me to take their picture with "Uncle Sam." But every once in a while I encountered a few down right hostile reactions to the whole idea of my photo project. On those few occasions people said no, I tried to ask why people felt so strongly, some of the burners said they felt that appearing with an "Uncle Sam" image was akin to showing support for the war in Iraq, and one women in particular said she didn't like the United States, and thought that other countries were better. Funny thing is we were at black rock city enjoying one of the privileges of living in a country like the United States that allows people to express themselves in anyway they choose. To me these people were good examples of not being able to see the big picture.
There is only one way to describe Black Rock City, its governed by distraction... Since I was pretty much in a constant state of distraction taking pictures of Sam this is the only snap shot I have of my self in front of the lens without a mask.
Think about the fact that the USA is the only country in the world that has sent a man to the moon, conducted such a wide scope of scientific research, given many people the opportunity for upward social mobility and is tolerant of all sorts of stuff like allowing events like Burning Man or anti abortion marches to take place.
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE states:
"...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
To me the real cost of living in a democracy is tolerating and trying and understand each others bullshit (i.e. other peoples individual lives, liberties and pursuits of happiness). So there ya have my burningman bullshit opinion for 2005.