the desert is definitely a place for people to encounter an initiatory experience, but not unless you immerse yourself deeply enough to encounter what some have referred to as profound isolation... in such an alien landscape, which is completely inhospitable to life in any form, one becomes significantly more aware of one's own individuality and personal needs for survival (AKA, "If I don't feel like I might die, then it's not Burning Man!"). Ironically, this also often leads people to recognize one another's needs: although each of us must be radically self-reliant, we also recognize respect & particpate in communal efforts (AKA, "If we do not survive together, then we perish apart!"). People can certainly recognize this relationship in any environment, but it is perhaps significantly more prevalent in the stark wasteland of the Black Rock Desert?
Which bring us to the age-old hermetic question...
"In times of difficulty or danger, in whom do you put your trust?"
I make no claims that anyone has an ultimate, objective, correct, or even authoritative answer to this question... I only ask people to show me how they put their answer into action through life-affirming processes for themselves & their community.
Here are some examples of my responses...
transforming vandalism into volunteerism
Absolve ye selves!
But in response to statements like these in articles from virgin burners (who are well-meaning, but simply do not even have the breadth of experience learned from weeks even, much less years in the dust)...
Adventures in Capitalism: A Capitalist Visits Burning Man
"the price tag and inconvenience make Burning Man unattractive to criminals."
...I could not resist sharing the inevitable rant which came forth (responses deleted to protect the innocent)...
He certainly did not look very hard... besides the "victimless crimes" related to consensual drugs and sex ... theft, destruction of property, rape, & other forms of assault are to be found on the playa, albeit at slightly lower rates than in other cities the same size
There is certainly a lot more than meets the eye going on out there... and I guarantee you will not like what you see if pay attention to the man behind the curtain... brc could perhaps best be described as the world's "happiest" company town... at its roots, it has always been a feudalistic economy of artists running around trying to impress a bunch of Lords and Ladies handing out grants so they can continue to provide an initiatory experience to the newest crop of young impressionable silicon valley execs... let's see what happens when all of the proverbial Dorothies finally realize that all they have to do is click their heels & chant "there's no place like home" ...there's no need for tornadoes, witches, & fairy godmothers... once people have been there & back again, they start to appreciate tending the gardens in their own back yards without the extravagant excess of a pilgrimage to the playa... those mirages out there have a way of ensuring that people are either independently wealthy or living in complete destitute poverty, with little in between ... yeah, now that you mention it, I would rather go to Bansky's Dismal-Land... it would be a slightly more accurate portrayal of the realities that people need to see when they look deeply into the mirror
However, there's certainly still a considerable abundance of independently wealthy individuals to be found out on the frontiers of reality
Obligatory Burning Man Think Piece
"Larry and Sergey and Eric are burners. So are Zuck, and Dustin Moskovitz, and the Winklevii; so are Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Shervin Pishevar."
The federal state & county authorities have been increasingly difficult for brc, llc to deal with... the "Borg" has been talking about shifting the "gerlach regional" burning man festival towards private lands for years (now that plan is supposedly beginning to be implemented)...
"Is Burning Man on the Cusp of Becoming a Permanent Utopian Community?"
Meanwhile, many of the older "burners" have been shifting away from brc and towards other regional burns that are less and less interested in centralized control, but still maintain some degree of networking with one another
And although i thought self-satire was one of the unspoken traditions of burn culture handed down from the cacophony society.. in any case, no one is exempt from fair and accurate reporting when speaking truth to power... unfortunately, most counter cultural revolutions throughout history have all too often been lacking in awareness of their own flaws, especially when they begin to resemble the orthodoxy too much... i just prefer to see people put their money where their mouth is, so to speak... and I see more of the virtues of "burn culture" in burners without borders and other projects in which people are creating more sustainable systems, rather than engaging in outrageously wasteful desert festivals where people spend shamefully ridiculous amounts of money at Walmart outfitting their turnkey camps and vanity campaigns... although there certainly are exceptions to every rule... there are people who still ride their bikes to brc, the AEZ is still a shining example of sustainability, BWB keeps on inspiring service projects around the world, as well as many others... i just think it bears mentioning the recurrent phenomenonae of people who identify as burners who have intentionally moved away from "the big burn" to live near regional festivals and are at least making significant efforts towards creating more sustainable systems