(i offer this 1st because of my obsession with time, and second in partial defense of Burning Man and other festivals, where time is reduced to a correspondence to the physical environment: dawn, sunrise, light, sunset, dusk, dark, and exists as a kind of emptiness that doesn’t need to be filled.)
“… work is something that separates and divides us. For all the cooperation necessitated by joint enterprise and the division of labour in our productive activity, we are still divided as individuals as far as our day to day purposes are concerned. Festive celebration, on the other hand, is clearly distinguished by the fact that here we are not primarily separated but rather gathered together.
…Two fundamental ways of experiencing time seem to be in question here. In the context of our normal, pragmatic experience of time, we say that we “have time for something.” This time is at our disposal; it is divisible; it is the time that we have or do not have, or at least think we do not have. In its temporal structure, such time is empty and needs to be filled. Boredom is an extreme example of this empty time. When bored, we experience the featureless and repetitive flow of time as an agonizing presence. In contrast to the emptiness of boredom, there is the different emptiness of frantic bustle when we never have enough time for anything and yet constantly have things to do. When we have plans, we experience time as the “right time” for which we have to wait, or as what we need more of in order to get the thing done. These two extremes of bustle and boredom both represent time in the same way: we fill our time with something or we have nothing to do. Either way time is not experienced in its own right, but as something that has to be ”spent.”
There is in addition, however, a totally different experience of time which I think is profoundly related to the kind of time characteristic of both the festival and the work of art. In contrast with the empty time that needs to be filled, I propose to call this “fulfilled” or “autonomous” time. We all know that the festival fulfills every moment of its duration. This fulfillment does not come about because someone has empty time to fill. On the contrary, the time only becomes festive with the arrival of the festival. The manner in which the festival is enacted directly relates to this. …It is of the nature of the festival that it should proffer time, arresting it and allowing it to tarry. That is what festive celebration means. The calculating way in which we normally manage and dispose of our time is, as it were, brought to a standstill.”
time as something that we “spend” – time as a form of commerce, and therefore time spent/time accrued=”valuable” and arguably the source of all value in culture (labor time). the quantity is finite, yes, for each of us. but does that mean it should be constantly measured for maximization, or is it the opposite, that only in the escape from measurement that we can live?
“play” is a variety of experience where the interests that constitute the reason and commerce of everyday life are not considered. work-time is suspended by play-time, play being an exercise of imagination. if you extend your definition of work to the consumer who also contributes to perpetuation of the work cycle, this often includes what we would have previously considered play-time – from the kinds of things we would formerly have thought of as non-commerce activities – like camping and other nature-based outdoor sports - to the somewhat opaque commercial activities like doing anything online (facebook), to the more transparent commercial entertainment industries like television and movies. entertainment is almost fully integrated into industry, and thus in modern culture work-time has extended to nearly every waking moment, and into some of the most private parts of our private lives. even when you are not working, you are working.
work divides time. work divides us.
art unites time. art unites us.
.::.Filed in art, burning man, philosophical ramblings | Comment (0)
Burning Man’s Cry for Help (NYT 3/30/12)
More than 10,000 tickets still remain for Burning Man, which culminates over Labor Day weekend. They were originally allotted for a public sale starting Mar. 28. Now, however, they will go only to handpicked attendees who “already have a relationship and contact points within the organization” of Burning Man.
In other words, Burning Man is building its own kind of caste system, choosing insiders and outsiders, curating the community’s most valuable members. Why does this matter?
We live in tremendously creative times. Thanks to the Internet, the tools to make and share art have proliferated. Offline, however, we’re still largely stuck in a culture where some people make art and other people consume it. There’s a dividing line between celebrities and fans, performers and spectators. How often do people get to co-create culture in the physical world?
For more than two decades, Burning Man has been the antithesis of the art establishment, avoiding the social stratifications created by fame and pedigree, embracing a credo of egalitarianism and “radical inclusion.” If you wanted to show your art there — even if your art was stale Twinkies stacked to look like Stonehenge, which I saw my first year — no curator would turn you away. Burning Man is the only American event of its scale that actively attempts a democratic system for face-to-face artistic exchange.
(i kind of don’t get the headline? where is the cry for help?)
(by the way, yes, we have tickets.)Filed in art, burning man | Comments (4)
.::. previous .::.
- the WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE guy. we had a burn barrel in camp, which people would gather around especially in the pre-dawn hours when it was cold. and one dawn there were 10-11 people hanging out, and the sun came up, and everyone was jovial and chatting. our village had a lot of people in it and so i didn’t always know everyone hanging around. and so it was sort of weird when suddenly, a burly dude who’d been there for quite some time, talking, just chillin’, suddenly, in the morning light, freaked out a little bit and in a lull in the conversation, looked around and very startled said “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? HOW DID I GET HERE? HOW DOES EVERYBODY KNOW MY NAME? WAIT….WHO are YOU?” over and over again. we started asking him questions and it became apparent that this tripper dude had taken something unknown earlier in the night and the last thing he remembered he was at his camp, which he knew where it was, but now at dawn he finds himself sitting around in our camp, with no idea who any of us are, or how he got there. he then became agitated because he did not have his backpack, which he maintained that he NEVER took off, barely even to sleep, so where is it? he got up and stumbled away and we wondered for a brief second if he might be a narc? but determined that, nah. after a while he came back and sat down, and sort of glazed over and looked at the fire. and then, a few minutes later, this happened again. WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? WHO DID I GET HERE? WHERE IS MY BACKPACK? and then he relayed that the reason his backpack was so important, besides all the basic burning man things inside, was that there was a book inside, given to him by the “woman he will love for the rest of his life”, who had written an inscription to him, and he really, really needed that book. he was distraught about this. i felt sad for him. he got up and wandered off searching again, not taking our suggestion that probably, most likely, his backpack was back at his own camp. i hope he found it.
- it’s a standard burning man lost tripper story, but it stuck with us and now, kind of like quoting the “WHAT DOES IT MEAN??” double rainbow guy, we will just randomly say “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE? HOW DID I GET HERE” whenever it is even mildly funny.
- the movie theatre at the orange fence, which is a fully functioning movie theatre that seats….20? 30? and only shows movies in the middle of the night was showing this old Veronica Lake film “Sullivan’s Travels” (1941), for which we got in only to see the last ~1 minute. but turns out, the last one minute of that movie is TOTALLY APPROPRIATE for burning man. plus they give you free candy!
- —–>CANDY POCKET.
- +a little more on me not being able to deal with being at the Temple. i think the thing that i have to admit to myself is that i am terrified of people dying. terrified. in a way that seems somehow almost phobic. like i can’t. even. think. about it. i did not go to the only funeral of someone close to me that has happened in my adult life, partially due to cost/travel but also partly because i felt like i would have just been a horrible, sobbing mess of a burden on everyone around me. it was hard not to go to my beloved grandmother’s funeral, but at the time it seemed impossible and so much harder to go than to not go. like i could not possibly go. and it’s not just people i love, although that is really traumatic of course, but like i said – my heart broke open reading any of the inscriptions/memorials there at the temple, for complete strangers. and probably, that Thursday morning when i left because i didn’t want to cry as hard as i would’ve cried if i had let myself, i should’ve let myself. i should’ve let that go through me. because some day…..
- people keep asking how was it? and i keep finding it hard to answer. fun! of course. DUH. i mean, obvi. but underneath the fun i think the reason i keep going back is because it forces me to face a lot of myself that doesn’t get exposed very often. here we have built castles around us, living in our bubbles, our bell jars. there, your castle walls crumble, and on the other side is a huge mirror. who are you, really, when exposed? how do you react to sleeplessness, pain, stress, hunger, insecurity, desolation, attachment, love, joy, ecstasy, mania….to your mortality, to death?
i’ve come again
like a new year
to crash the gate
of this old prison
i’ve come again
to break the teeth and claws
of this man-eating
monster we call life
i’ve come again
to puncture the
glory of the cosmos
i am the falcon
hunting down the birds
of black omen
before their flights
i gave my word
at the outset to
give my life
with no qualms
i pray to the Lord
to break my back
before i break my word
you have set up
a colorful table
calling it life and
asked me to your feast
but punish me if
i enjoy myself
what tyranny is this
-Rumi, from Fountain of Fire
Black Rock City, 2011.
unlike previous years, i did not write anything in my journal while on the playa this year. not a single word. never even removed it from my backpack. it wasn’t that i made a conscious decision not to – i just didn’t. last year i spent a lot of time reading and writing while there. this year i did almost none. i was so busy doing….what?
so i don’t know where to start with this right now, as when i try to recreate history without a record i always end up so confused. what is appropriate to say and what isn’t, out of respect for boundaries, respect for relationships, respect for art, respect for humanity? what did i really feel then, versus what i feel about it now? after this 7th year, am i just repeating myself?
perhaps.Filed in autobiographical, burning man | Tagged with rumi | Comments (5)
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
this many years and i still can’t narrow it down.
once i get there it all seems so immediately and abundantly clear, but beforehand it is like a phantom in the mist. how can that be? like a far away lover you haven’t touched in months – you only remember the smell, the touch, the feel, the other information filed deep, resurfacing only exactly when needed.
i bring things like books and cocktail dresses. someday i should set up The Most Elegant Library Ever on the playa, with deep couches and chandeliers and velvet ropes and lace curtains and walnut bookshelves filled with hardcovers of everything from Sartre to Seuss, where you can sit and drink champagne while reading silently, or have quiet discussions about literary subjects.
however, all moments of periodic dusted and sunbleached elegance aside, in the thick of it, i like to get feral and not give a fuck.
i like to go to burning man and get lost in its dream, subconscious wandering interspersed with bouts of extreme physical hyperawareness and athletic mania. i like to be dirty and unwashed and sunkissed and running on empty and compulsive and punch-drunk and completely alive.
most of this is a personal experience, but at the same time i fall deeply in love with humanity and the people who commune with me and i want to feel all of them.
the rest of the world seems so fragmented, anxious, fluxuated, and holding its breath right now – my own life, and globally – that burning man seems like the safest place to be – the place where we can breathe, the place where we can all be perfect* for a little while, and not worry about failing.
*adj. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose
whether here or there: love.Filed in autobiographical, burning man | Tagged with rumi | Comment (0)