Essay about Burning Man Remains True to its Core Values

Essay about Burning Man Remains True to its Core Values

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Burning Man, an annual event set during the week before Labor Day in the vast Nevada desert, started off small in 1986 as a celebration of the summer solstice. Since its inception as an exploration of a hybrid of modern life and ancient rituals, Burning Man has transformed into a massive, pseudo-utopian haven for all types of creative expression. With Burning Man’s explosion in popularity among almost every facet of the counter-culture movement, the festival has grown from a small group of like-minded people gathering together in the dessert to a full-blown event, akin in scale to Woodstock. This paper will explore the origins of Burning Man, the festival’s transition to its current state, and if the original ideals behind Burning Man can still prevail on such a massive scale.
Burning Man was envisioned by Larry Harvey and Jerry James in San Francisco as a sort of spiritual cleansing event revolving around the burning of personal mementos and souvenirs from the past, along with a human-sized figure made from scrap wood. The organizers refer to it as an "experiment" and describe its aim as "radical self-expression." The idea that you can reinvent yourself at will is a modern notion; in its postmodernism, Burning Man proceeds from the idea that you were invented to begin with. Any personal characteristic sexual bent, character trait, religious belief is only a choice away from being something totally different. With support from The San Francisco Cacophony Society, the Burning Man crowd swelled to 800 and the signature burning ‘man’ grew to 40 feet in just four years. As the festival continued to grow, it was moved to Black Rock City, Nevada, where it currently resides.
The event was conceived from the notion that bohemians hav...

... middle of paper ... of putting meaningful items inside the man before the burning. The burning cleanses the mind and lifts the weight from the body. But many believe that the popularity of this meaningful annual gathering is becoming tainted due to all of the mediocracy and global broadcasting of the once sacred utopia. Alicia Ludena states In Search of the Postmodern, “Postmodern theorists, however, claim that in the contemporary high tech media society, emergent processes of change and transformation are producing a new postmodern society”(Ludena).

Works Cited
Harvey, Larry, LA VIE BOHÉME — A History of Burning Man February 24, 2000.
Ludena, Alicia In Search of the Postmodern
Poschardt, Ulf. DJ Culture. Trans. Shaun Whiteside. London: Quartet Books Ltd. 1998. 393

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