Marc Merlin’s experience at Burning Man 2005: Psyche

Here’s a truly amazing photo essay of last year’s Burning Man by Google Linux Admin Marc Merlin. It will give you a good idea of the variety of experiences always happening in Black Rock City. There are also links throughout the page to galleries containing many more images.

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!

Burncast

Burncast is a new podcast that covers the Burning Man scene. The first two episodes consist of interviews with founder Larry Harvey and other senior staff. Episode #3 includes end-to-end coverage of the 3rd 2nd Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational, and the most recent episode #4 is an interview with an organizer of one of the larger regional Burning Man-inspired events, the Texas-based Burning Flipside.

Available via the iTunes podcast directory.

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!

Burning Man in Moving Pictures

Burning Man is an experience that’s hard to describe in words, and is the subject of many popular myths. Although video doesn’t do it justice either, here are a few selections from Burning Man of years-past.

Remember, anything “entertaining” you see at Burning Man— whether music, sculpture, costumery, dance, spoken word, or anything else— is not provided by paid entertainers: at Burning Man there are No Spectators.

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!

Burning Man: Hope and Fear

I am reminded of the time a guy with whom I used to go to church showed up from out of town and wanted to spend some time with me. I hadn’t seen him for years and he owed me money, so I invited him over. Of course, at that time my home was Rubel Castle. After a tour of the castle’s many eclectic, eccentric, and exotic sights, we wound up in The Dungeon, (actually an old citrus cooling cellar) where I had my office. We had a pleasant chat and caught each other up on what we had been doing (he was starting a radio ministry in Las Vegas.) He even presented a check for a tiny fraction of the now quite aged loan. In due time he took his leave.

But the next day he unexpectedly returned and insisted I meet him on the sidewalk outside. As we sat on the curb, he revealed to me that he was afraid I was in the grip of satanic evil, and that God had told him to return to warn me. (The previous evening he confided that God’s voice had been speaking to him inside his head for several years now.) When I asked him to be more specific, he indicated the castle. “Evil?” I said, “The place is the very quintessence of whimsicality! It was built by hundreds of people for the sheer joy of it! How can such a place be evil?” But he was resolute, positive that the castle held a definite malefic aura that evinced itself in everything from the courtyard’s painted plywood cutout in the shape of a dragon (which had been made for a local high school medieval craft fair) to the fact that my office was in a room called The Dungeon (the centerpiece of which is that feared engine of torture, the billiard table.) The conversation didn’t go much farther than that— I thanked him for his concern, told him I disagreed about the evil thing and about my need for repentance, and bid him goodbye.

Back in the present, tickets for Burning Man 2006 went on sale yesterday, and already the two least expensive levels of tickets are sold out. This year’s art festival theme is Hope and Fear: The Future. I have attended Burning Man five times over the past ten years or so, and have had an amazing experience every time. Three of my experiences are written up here, here, and here.

Of course, not everyone who goes has such a great time. Apparently a few go clandestinely, purely to research the manifold evils present there, and returning with their innocence divinely protected, pantingly present their findings to the stupefied masses as if they were stringers for Fodor’s Guide to Hell. (Warning, embedded MIDI and really awful web design.)

Two thoughts strike me when comparing these experiences. First, attitudes like those of the writer above and of my castle-visiting acquaintance are perfect examples of confirmation bias exacerbated by radical fundamentalist thinking. My second, related thought is that all great art is like a mirror of the soul; one looks into it and sees the best and worst inside them: for people with only fear inside them, they look at art and see only that which they fear.

Comments? Send a tweet to @ironwolf or use the response form.
I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!