25 Jul Burning Man – American Catharsis
Burning Man is a radical self-therapy and the beginning of an American cult whose followers meet once a year in the Nevada Desert to build and burn their temple. More than 50-thousand participants – doctors, lawyers, students, high-level managers of Amazon and eBay, bosses of Silicon Valley, filmmakers from California and professors of physics – all gather in tunics and goggles to protect themselves from dust storms. Here they are incognito. They build community spirit in a bar serving margaritas in old plastic ketchup barrels.
They want to become someone else for a moment. They say that they are ‘Burners’ because they burn ‘American lifestyle’ and their egos. Before the burning of the temple, they will bring some artifacts: a t-shirt of their deceased mother, an unsent letter to a girlfriend, the names of suiciders, photographs of relatives, greeting cards, a photograph of a dog which has been run-over, a newspaper clipping of Neil Armstrong, who died this year.
Burners want to reach beyond the limits of their credit cards in a metaphorical way. They say that American pop culture and mass media banalises sensibilities. In the Nevada desert, they learn about their own spirituality. Burning Man does not want to be defined by commercialism. There is no advertising, the only articles for sale being “Arctica” ice bags, coffee and sandwiches. Each Burner brings their own water and food into the desert. Burners are building a spirit of “community”, sharing being a remedy for loneliness in the world of selfish consumers. Burners instinctively flee towards the herd. They say they were individualistic in times of the economic prosperity of the United States, but it is already over. Burning Man is the collective dream of how America should look in the future.