September 6, 2013
Like listening to ten different conductors wave their batons (or whatever that little stick they slash the air like a gay Zorro is called) as they lead a Mozart concerto, there may be as many different musicalities to the descriptions you receive of Burning Man as the number of people you ask. Or so you would think. But that’s not really the case. Like the abortion issue, it seems people are generally either all in or all out and only after picking sides do they decide on the particulars of whether they consider a rusty hanger or a Hoover vacuum the best way to do away with “the little problem.”
The converted will describe Burning Man as a utopian dream of creative community where everyone can express themselves without fear or worry, as on the Playa ridicule and judgement are replaced by hugs and kisses and the occasional nipple tweak, or so they say. The less dreamy will describe it as a dirty, drug-infested sex party in the desert where an elite class of rich, pyromaniacal hippies reenact scenes from Mad Max and light shit on fire.
Both may be right. And both may be wrong. I think this has to do with some law of physics concerning multiple possibilities–or was that multiple orgasms? If only I paid attention in physics class, today I might have been better able to satisfy my woman, instead of having to listen to a broken record of, “I appreciate your effort but I’ll finish on my own. No really–stop!”
What I find suspect is that if you listen to most of the Burning Man Kool-Aid drinkers, their answers almost always sound identical, as if you just heard twenty people in a row describe an apple with the words “Juicy and delicious!” to which the only natural response would be, “Okay, where’s the camera? This is a commercial, right?” Coming from self-proclaimed individuals who have burned their school uniforms which society gave them, I find a lot of “uniform” descriptions, which seems not only sacrosanct coming from so-called creatives, but also boring.
The Burning Man peeps, known as “Burners,” claim it is a non-commercial venue but if you look at the cult-like bowing down to this event, one has to question if they haven’t just replaced the corporate slogan of “Coke is it” with “Burning Man is it.” Either that or there are nearly 70,000 androids posing as humans who have been programmed to have the exact same opinion about something that has a lot more depth and range than caramel-colored sugar water.
Whether it is yoga or an apple, Mozart or Burning Man…or life…we all have our own set of eyes and ears and hearts–unless you’re a conjoined twin–and experience everything in a unique way. And even within our unique personality fingerprint, we may experience the same thing entirely differently depending on what particular life challenges, struggles or lessons we are working on at any given point in our path.
So even the same person could have a myriad of different experiences from her “Burn” depending on her emotional weather at the time. If she went seven years in a row and had seven pretty identical experiences, I would question whether she was walking a spiritual path or popping an indefinite squat.
I would hope, if you are an individual, that even after you attend a Burning Man event and thereafter wear your badge of unique hip coolness in the form of calling yourself a “Burner,” that you wouldn’t trade in your own sensory organs and mind for Groupthink. But I find that many anti-The Man groups, whether anarchists, punks or “Burners,” just promote their own “Man” to CEO. Whether they put the word “Burning” in front of him or not, their revolutions are little more than a changing of the guard, dropping certain irrelevant actions, perhaps changing their uniforms from a suit and tie to all black with spikes or fur pants and a silly hat, while keeping those of judgment, opinion, expectation and other separating pettiness.
“A guy walks up to me and asks, “What’s Punk?” So I kick over a garbage can and say, “That’s punk!” So he kicks over the garbage can and says, “That’s Punk?” and I say, “No, that’s trendy!”
― Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day
Personally, I rather listen to Justin Bieber than either Mozart or some “Burner” describe for me what Burning Man is–and by “listen to Justin Bieber” I mean hear him talk about how he’s a musical Christ and dead Jew diarist Anne Frank would have been a Belieber, as this is hysterical comedy, and not his crappy music which is a horrible tragedy.
The only way to have an experience of Burning Man that is your own is not to watch three different documentaries on it, study the official Burning Man webpage taking copious notes from the Survival Guide and memorizing the Ten Guiding Principles put together by founder Larry Harvey, a J.R. from Dallas look-alike with bad teeth, watch countless hours on YouTube of a pink-haired “Burner” say with tears in his eyes that it is Heaven on Earth and he loves you, despite the fact that he never responds to any of your love letters, listen to your experienced girlfriend’s warnings and adulation as every moment you share in the preceding weeks to your excursion together is spent watching her sew as she creates various outfits for the two of you to wear in the desert, which you would have gladly foregone for donning a pair of gray sweats the entire week there to trade in an hour or two of sewing time for some much needed and “I’m too tired for” sex.
This was mostly my preparation, in addition to selling my dog to a Korean butcher for extra cash to help pay for my attendance at this hippie version of a Skull & Bones secret society gathering. But nothing can give you an authentic experience of Burning Man other than actually going and have your own experience, the same way a fruit expert can tell you all about the chemical reactions that occur in your mouth when you bite into an apple but that can never prepare you for the sweet salivatory experience of that first bite. Or bite into a Bieber.
I am an equal opportunity basher, so let me make it clear that I am not just throwing carbon copy “Burners” under the bus but everyone who offers an unoriginal opinion or one that is not based on personal experience–and even ones based on experience only share the relative opinion of the individual and not absolute truth.
A little dialogue about me going to Burning Man ensued on the Facebook page of one of my original un-blog fans who I consider more than a Fakebook friend. The discussion seemed to consist of a bunch of white, older women chiming in unison on what seemed to reflect a somewhat negative opinion of Burning Man. I suppose this was better than having to listen to them talk about hot flashes and vaginal dryness due to menopause.
One wrote how a friend of hers was a Ranger on the Playa, which is basically a cop wearing a Boy Scout uniform, and told her it was a horrible experience and that she would never do it again. I responded with a picture of me dressed as the biblical Adam with three Rangers. While their costumes were definitely different than mine, we all wore the common adornment of a big smile.
When I had asked one of the Rangers if he considered Burning Man a good gig, he enthusiastically voiced that it was a lot of fun. On further questioning he shared that he did on occasion have to bust someone I assume for drugs but, just shy of admitting letting off anyone who gave him a blowjob, overall it was a great gig.
This same truth is taught in Life 101. Not that you can get out of a ticket by blowing the officer, although truth be told this has gotten me out of many a jaywalking ticket, but that the only way to live an original life is to go out and live and experience it for yourself–not for your parents, your church, or the cool group.
Unfortunately, most people are copying off their neighbors papers because they’re too pussified to go out and live their own experience of life without being spoon-fed ready-made answers for any questions they may have. When one travels on the spiritual path long enough he eventually comes to realize that life is not about knowing more answers but accepting and making peace with the fact that there will always be questions.