Turning Green in The American Rear View Mirror, Burning Man Analyzed From A 10 Year Distance

BM piece finger playa


In the 1950s, Wilhelm Reich, the jewish Galician-born scientist – more commonly considered Austrian – ( this is entirely speculative: but does this mean that good ol’ Dr. Reich was mixing up those orgone theories with the love of the Bukowina stylee?  Hoopa !! Maybe we’ll have to come back to that thought) psychotherapist and sex researcher attempted a GREENING of the Arizona desert, and his investigations still remain a labyrinth of hidden knowledge.

Fast Forward: Some incredible and absurd and impossible parallels may exist with this year’s Burning Man GREEN theme, and we’ll be analyzing the Man on the XL Terrestrial Couch… from a relatively safe distance of … 10 years to be exact.

But we have warned our team of time explorers and this applies to all ye who enter here: Everything is closer than it appears in the American rear view mirror… and abandon all hope ( in the Jenssonian* sense)  ye who believe This desert shall turn green ! (well ok, so u knew that already)

Ok, try this Rorschach Test with the image above:

1.Does the peace symbol of the sixties hippie movement in the reclaimed desert territories of BM appear to you to be cut off because the Mad Max-in-pink aesthetic of ‘playa Weimar apocalypse’ may be organicly hostile to the Summer Of Love memes preceding it?

2. Note the business man suit sleeve and cuff-link. Might this represent that the ruling elite ( a Nixon-esque figure?), whose ability to wreak havoc and atrocity, has seriously multiplied into the present BM era, continuously co-opts the language of the revolution, and most assuredly cannot be trusted ? I.e. An ingenious work of art akin to the Austrian breakcore groups that recently traveled through the US with the message and name of tour called “Peace Off!”

3. Is the hybrid Frankenstein experiment of the peacenik brain with, say, the SF-Silicon Valley class desert holiday masturbation-shopper, and the Disneyfied corpse of the temporary autonomous zone, a self-decapitating exercise rendered even more meaningless by its containment on a remote uninhabitable plot of land?


If any of these resonated with you, or if none of these resonated, please read further. No answers here, we’re just examining the patient, so to speak.


From one angle, BM is an immense experiment in festivals and community like no other. Is it really any surprise that in the environment of wholly American cultural products, where incessant obsession for churning out the biggest of everything, a man in a 10-gallon Stetson hat ( Larry Harvey ) would invent a mecca of partydom with new parameters? Well it is not so interesting to assess whether this is a good party or a bad party; Every “Burner” (participant) will provide you with incidents of the best and worst of this mutant life form in the Nevada wild. What may need urgent examination here is that this is a phenomenon that is now a most peculiar mirror of our times, a metasticizing movement ( easily as epic and historical as Woodstock or Altamonte, or even Jane Fonda’s transpersonal conversion to Jazzercise) revealing in a far more charged and up-to-date incarnation, both the signs of a doomed empire and a symbolic effort to radically, desperately shift directions. Unfortunately from a socio-political and psychological standpoint, BM might very well be a rudderless ship which crash landed near Las Vegas, possibly mistaking those vulture capital beacons for some alternative jackpot-moneyshot civilization and liberation.

Until we will have time to return to this examination to more fully understand such tangent clues in the mystery of BM such as Alfred Bester, Guy Debord, cloudbusters and orgones, a recent article in the New Yorker on PKD, the other side of “leave no trace” and “no spectator” in the 22nd year of a lost ritual Weekend… For now we must get back to our own art ( and praxis) project, so we leave you with :

An Ode to the [Charred*] Man on the Lunar Eclipse, Aug. 28, 2007

Rather than launch into a comprehensive study/diagnosis of BM, we think it would be best to lay out our full intent right at the start, or at least following that brief incision of a preface.

We consider that there are many creative philosophies and energies that have gone into these gigantic shadow puppet shows of the unbound life which upon return to the normal light will be so quickly reduced to sand castle minatures and figurine shelf-life highs beside the day-to-day operations and delirium of our walled and armoured cities.

So we prepare a kind of constructive/deconstructive remedy at the end of a Time Bandits sojourn, and rather than those six Gilliam dwarves having forgotten to sweep up one small burning ember of ‘highly concentrated evil’, a BM participant may arrive home to quite the opposite: to find that something, some investigation, has in fact been carefully extracted, deposited, leaked in a more pure gift economy form, NOT some email containing an announcement about some decompression salve, nor some teaser tactic or trial persona for another partial escape, but a fully visceral burning ember of lucid home reality which requires immediate fusion with all that freshly tasted access to uninhibited and fully-charged creativity. THis HERE is the desert that needs obliteration and re-invention, or else community exodus!

It would be too easy to merely lay out the parallels with Debord’s addended theory of the Integrated Spectacle ( in Comments, 1988), where BM so neatly and efficiently exemplifies the trajectory whereby on the now double-sided outsides, existence demands a fluid fidelity, a succession of continually disappointing commitments to false products. It is a matter of running hard to keep up with the inflation of devalued signs of life.

But as the deeper inquiring time bandits made aware of their cruel and unnatural habitat outside their purchasable trips on a tether, would they finally bring with them the maps of inversion, one by one, to bring down the pole that strung them to such short sequentialed and shrinkwrapped dreams, and all those long-running nightmares planned for global expansion inbetween !?

(work in progress)

* btw: It wasn’t XL Terrestrials that set the BM on fire early, which wasn’t an entirely uninspired idea, but seems to be right in line with the Full-Monty “Gonzo” INTEGRATION we are refering to above, and of course the media just drools all over it. And even the supposed Sf “subculture” is falling all over it in one of its more popular (short-attention span-) threads at LaughingSquid.

And not so odd coincidence, we were writing this at precisely the same time frame the saboteur attacked… so at least we have an alibi: working another late night at the gotham city crimethink lab.

See : Part 2 – an Abbreviated/ condensed version: Sandbox Insurrections

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