Jacques Ellul Lending Library

What was it?
A theme camp for Burning Man 2000. (Depending on what year you are reading this, the link may or may not go to the BM2K web site; it will always go to the current year, since that's the important one.)
We were in the official theme camps list (thanks Burning Man web team!) and got an intense placement near 5:30 and Brain (thanks theme camp gurus!).
Unfortunately due to the sudden illness of one of the founders and the fact that the other two founders wanted to harass western and holistic health practitioners about her symptoms, we were unable to do the camp. Upon the advice of the most senior denizen of Black Rock City we know, D.S. Black, we told our placement person to give the JELL real estate to someone who could make better use of it. Some members of the camp went to Black Rock City as individuals and had a great time.
Even though we didn't get the library to the playa, I met other Ellulians I hadn't previously known and was asked to help with the new Ellul web site...just another example of how the playa spirit/magic extends out from the festival itself along all dimensions of time and space.
We hope to see you all next year in Black Rock City. As Bullwinkle says, "This time for sure."

What can I do at J.E.L.L.?
[This was the design; it was not carried out.]
Chill in our tented sunroom. Add to our word art project. Grab a paperback and read it or take it with you. Flip through our collection of famous rants. If you like one, make a note and we'll email it to you when we get back home...
The paperbacks we're bringing to give away are mostly sociology, literary criticism, science fiction, and mysteries. If you're overcome by the heat but you can't sleep...or if your dance floor is wobbling...they're yours to do whatever with (bring back, pass on, ??).
It's our first theme camp so we're keeping things very low key. We'll have first aid kits, a fire extinguisher, and several camp members who know CPR.
Photo links: Since applying for this camp we've heard about the intense Black Rock Public Library run by BookBill and friends in 98 and 99. BookBill has sent us a lot of great advice and also wonderful photos (click on the year-numbers - for example, check out the tower from 99! - plus this link and this other link). We didn't mean to be copying the BRPL but are now proud to be inspired by its example (except we'll probably be smaller, but we'd like to emulate the way they survived the windstorms).

What are your LNT (Leave No Trace) plans?
First some credentials. Our LNT foreman used to run an established camp (=a camp with permanent buildings) in the San Bernardino mountains above Los Angeles, and recently helped found another one in the hills outside Ramona CA. Our sculptor is an ACA Campcrafter who has spent years running a paper making facility that has all kinds of materials management issues. The rest of us are all experienced campers and backpackers who know how "things" can get out of hand without regular attention to site management.
Our general LNT approach will be: (1) don't let things hit the ground (2) clean up as we go along (3) nobody leaves until we crisscross the area and pick up everything and fill in all the tent stake holes.
We have designed our activities so that no free-ranging pieces of paper are involved. For example, if people want copies of stuff from our Rant Book they can write down an email address and we'll send the rants electronically when we get back to our computers. The paperbacks will be in closable plastic boxes and we will give them only to people who intend to use them in some way, packing out the rest (probably donating them to a rummage sale or goodwill industries store on the way back). In addition to practicing innovative and minimalist garbage management practices, all camp members will be participating in the general Black Rock City clean-up on Sunday.

Who's responsible?
JELL is being anchored by a sculptor, a priest, and a cybertexter. Other friends (including a ranger and a lamplighter) will be camping with us.
Thanks to the New England email list members for moral support and technical advice, both of outstanding quality.

Why the name?
The three organizers are Christians who practice "radical subjectivity" in the tradition of Jacques Ellul (hereinafter JE). We're sorry JE never got to Black Rock City: he would have found the communities that gather to burn extremely fun and provocative. (He understood the importance of participation and the importance of not commodifying art - or anything else - although he developed his own weird words for the concepts, and ranted and whined about them in a contradictory manner. This has been an Ellulian digression in JE's honor...) We're remembering his work in the name of our camp.
Many people know JE primarily through his ideas about technology: J.E.L.L. is neither pro- nor anti-technology per se, but we're extremely wary of technique as a way of life and as a problem-solving approach.

Christians in Black Rock City?
We are committed to avoiding interfering with anyone else's experience and are looking forward to participating ourselves. It's just a few judgemental members of our cult who give the whole group a bad name...
[Now that the festival is over, I can tell you about some of the fun we had preparing the camp plans and this web page, both of which were of course prepared by consensus. A small but vociferous minority of us wanted the phrase above to read, "It's just a few million judgemental members..." but we went with the majority more tactful approach.]
Camp details please!
[Again, this was the plan...]
We've applied to be OFF Esplanade on a back street.
We'll have at least one generator. We will try to deflect the sound upwards when it is on.
NO we won't create any other intentional sounds. Our sonic landscape will be established by the sounds of Black Rock City all around us, which we intend to revel in (except when we're napping with our earplugs on).
We won't have a set schedule: if all the Ellulians happen to be out looking at sculpture, the camp's public space and paperbacks will still be available.

last updated 13 September 2000