Peter McCluskey (peter_bayesian) wrote,
Peter McCluskey

Reflections on Burning Man

I've been reading Brian Doherty's book This is Burning Man in an attempt to get insights on why people get so much more out of it than I have, and on how Ephemerisle might succeed or fail.
Much of what the book says is familiar enough to seem ordinary, but parts of it gave me a more detailed vision of how different I am.

"You're always working at an impaired level. Lack of sleep, terrible environment, dust, filth, a million things on your mind, never enough food, water ... Everyone crashes and burns"
This is about as different from my perspective as it could possibly be. I experienced it as a rather ordinary environment. The noise interfered with my sleep, but hardly enough to feel unusual. Bringing enough water in a car is trivial compared to carrying enough on my back for a 20+ mile hike. It would only take a few minutes to pack enough dried fruit and nuts to satisfy 95 percent of my need for food. The implication that the playa's physical environment has unusual effects on people's moods is mostly quite alien to me.

"I'm now selective about who I hang out with - only with people who are creative and fun. When I was in high school and college, I went to parties, and no one was doing anything. People were just all bored, drinking and looking for something to do. Burning Man is full of people who need to be doing something all the time, obsessive-compulsive creative people with this hyperactivity."
I feel some of this need to exercise my obsessive-compulsive tendencies (but not hyperactively). But it's hard for me to be inspired by the Burning Man culture. The art aspect of the creativity seems to consume a lot of resources for what looks like pure status seeking. Status seeking can be fine if it motivates people to improve something, but the projects I saw that fit that description were underwhelming.

There must be some way I could put my obsessive-compulsive tendencies to good use at Burning Man, but the kind of vision I'd need doesn't come easily.
Tags: burning man
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