Early Burning of the Man

from Laughing Squid

They’re promising to rebuild the Man for the weekend burn. This just all seems ridiculous to me. Of course, this is because I went to Burning Man for the first time in 99, about 2 years after it was last “cool.” I went in 2000 and 2004, and my last burn was really not all that great. It was too big, and it was starting to show the stresses of the population. I really believe that once you get a certain population density, even for a brief period of time, like a week, you’re going to start having some of the same problems that other American cities have. I’m talking about everything from sanitation to crime. The larger the population, the more infrastructure by the Org required to keep things seeming like nothing has changed on the surface. The Man no longer sits on top of hay stacks, and now they have a well oiled emergency services and the risk of DYING at Burning Man is pretty low. Hell, the risk of an unintentional fire is pretty low. They put out the man in 26 min, and it was not fully consumed.

While I do think arson is bad, I find it amusing that Burning Man has been the haven for people who like to blow shit up, burn it, prance around naked, do drugs and give the finger to the Law. Burning someone elses art is also bad. The thing is, I don’t consider the Man art any more because it’s trademarked and a brand. And besides, it was MEANT to burn. Isn’t this just what the over-commercialized, over-run event needs? A reminder of how EPHEMERAL the event is supposed to be? It seems that one of the wonderful things about Burning Man is that the burn symbolizes the end and beginning — it’s a modern ritual in understanding impermanance and letting what’s burned stay burned, at least for the year. Why build another man to burn the same week?

One year. One Man.

To me, it just says, “How American.” This year is called “Green Man.” Some people have called for an increased emphasis on envioronmental sensitivity and sustainability wrt the event. There are a lot of resources poured into the event — fossil fuels, lumber and sanitation are just parts of the infrastructure, let alone what people bring in – RV’s, generators, etc. Whatever happened to dealing with a non-recouperable experience and moving on? I think in 2K one of the Man’s arms didn’t go up for the burn. Did that mean that it didn’t burn and we waited for it to be fixed? Sometimes things don’t happen the way we want. It’s not like the Temple doesn’t burn at the end of the week.

Whatever happened to packing up all your stuff with a tent and rations and water, going out and having a great time with the threat of death?

It’s just crazy.

I’ll repeat at the end of this: I don’t think it’s cool that someone lit the Man on fire early. I do think that people should just let it stay burned and not build another man. “Suck it up and deal.”