Burning Man Catharsis
The city’s too crowded, no one goes there anymore.
In the midst of our astronomical rent prices across all major cities, we have fewer and fewer creative communities. Cheap rent is a prerequisite for artists, musicians, and other creative folks to settle down. These full-time corporate jobs suck the life out of you, you ideally want a location where you can get by on a part-time job. A little bit of freelance here and there. Ample time and space to focus on your creative practice.
Enter the small art town, the utopic vision of cheap land, cheap rent, and empty buildings that are ripe for a pop-up party. A small community of people who care for each other, and collaborate on some pretty sick projects. In our modern loneliness epidemic, who isn’t seduced by the idea of living on a commune?
There’s a joke on leftist-transit twitter that Disneyland is popular because it offers Americans the opportunity to experience a walkable city in their own country. I would argue that Burning Man has turned into a similarly placating fantasy for corporate workers, yearning to experience life on a village scale.
Take one week a year to get out of your stressed urban life and slow it down, man, take a stroll around the dusty city and get to know your neighbors. Help your campmates build out infrastructure, cook some communal meals, and immerse yourself in art and music. LARP that you are a full-time creative person, and no you’d didn’t rush-order your whole outfit off of Amazon the week before.
Carnival season has historically been tolerated by the Catholic church because it acts as a pressure-release valve for the faithful. Do a little sinning, once a year in a time-boxed way, and it makes it easier to follow the rules the rest of the time. Burning Man offers that catharsis, a week of wild revelry that makes it easier to accept going back to the rest of your life. The rent keeps going up, and the workday keeps getting longer.
The last two friends I’ve brought to Bombay Beach have both said to me, “wow! this is just like Burning Man!” No, friend, Burning Man is just giving you a taste of what life could be like in a vibrant small community. I wish it wasn’t such a rare and exotic thing!