Recently, I read about the postmodern festival called the ‘Burning Man.’ This takes place every year in the Nevada desert and lasts for over a month. People, mostly young, from all over, risk the 107 degree heat to experience art and radical community. The website describes it this way:
You belong here and you participate. You’re not the weirdest kid in the classroom — there’s always somebody there who’s thought up something you never even considered. You’re there to breathe art. Imagine an ice sculpture emitting glacial music — in the desert. Imagine the man, greeting you, neon and benevolence, watching over the community. You’re here to build a community that needs you and relies on you.
You’re here to survive. What happens to your brain and body when exposed to 107 degree heat, moisture wicking off your body and dehydrating you within minutes? You know and watch yourself. You drink water constantly and piss clear. You’ll want to reconsider drinking that alcohol (or taking those other substances) you brought with you — the mind-altering experience of Burning Man is its own drug. You slather yourself in sunblock before the sun’s rays turn up full blast. You bring enough food, water, and shelter because the elements of the new planet are harsh, and you will find no vending.
You’re here to create. Since nobody at Burning Man is a spectator, you’re here to build your own new world.
The article goes on to describe it in almost religious terms: a place of ‘radical inclusion,’ ‘an epiphany,’ a place where you are ‘reborn.’ One of the mission statements of the Burning Man festival is to ‘bring positive spiritual change.’ A book I saw recently has said that Burning Man is the new church and it in fact has superceded the church because it is more spiritually effective, more authentic, and has a higher degree of community. Who out there has been to one of these? What is your assessment?