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  • Writer's pictureKaren L

Burning Man--the apex of fake, freaky fun?

I have had enough of Burning Man. Real tragedy persists in our world. I do not care about 70,000 people--can you believe it--who search for misery and consequently marvel at people helping one another. I am weary reading about grownups who spend hundreds, thousands of dollars to replicate suffering and community. I know about this phenomenon because a family member makes an annual pilgimage to the remote location not meant for humans. Worse--the "Burners" turn a barren environment into a circus of fake celebration which is detrimental to the delicate ecology of this place.

Who decided that burning a wood statue was demonstrative of impermanence? Be like monks. Create a mandala of sand and blow it away--barely any harm done. Drive and fly miles to create a lasting footprint on a desert, and you weren't even invited by the animals who live there? If you want to experience the desert, go in winter or early spring not during the heat of August. Community is where people live everyday. Pick your recent natural or manmade disaster if you want to engage in communal living and cooperation. No need to go to Nevada to create community. Humans are constantly committed to preserve life, as we try to avoid danger, illness, and misfortune. We work hard to protect ourselves and the vulnerable from disease and violence. Why invent danger and then survival?

Are the participants of Burning Man so privileged that they cannot see what is front of their eyes? That they have to don costumes which mimic a dystopic world, only to dump the paraphanalia every year? I have seen the boas, glittery vests, platform boots, and ski goggles stored in a relative's closet. Something is rotten in the world if people with money have to waste it, pretending to suffer and need each other. Burning Man began innocently on a chilly beach in San Francisco, but wealthy entrepeneurs saw the potential for revenue. So they created a pseudo city on a remote dried up lake in the barren Nevada desert. I have driven through that grey, dry, empty moonscape; it is not the prettiest desert we have on our continent, nor a place you would want to spend much time. But it is part of our earth and has inherent value. The festival has grown exponentially which demonstrates an appetite for excessive partying and fake survival. Rock concerts and raves are controlled chaos. Computer/video games simulate desperate situations to survive. Virtual rooms enable people to pretend they must escape confinement. These activities are weird. However, Burning Man exceeds all of these activities in its extravagance. The so-called festival is a week long exhibition of scantily clad adults play acting at destruction, risk, and a free-for-all of temptation and desire fulfilled or not. I do believe we are better than this type of gathering. ©2023 Karen Levi

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