The Illusion Economy

Posted: October 7, 2010 in playa economics

We live in an illusion economy.

Our money — the pieces of paper we all strive so hard to get more of — is not based on, or backed by, anything that has actual tangible value.

The highest aims of the consumer economy — luxury brands, unlimited wealth, ability to waste — have nothing to do with community, connection, love, or real feeling.

We spend our days isolated in plastic cubes, typing on plastic machines, staring into plastic screens, driving in plastic cars down concrete roads, through concrete valleys and  jungles, living in air-conditioned boxes, trying to chase away our feelings of isolation with illusory image-streams that are, themselves, mostly fake.

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Burning Man Isn’t

Posted: September 25, 2010 in the burn

Ever since I got back from Burning Man — and before I went — people have been asking me what Burning Man is.

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The Selfish Burner

Posted: September 21, 2010 in philosophy

A friend who attended Burning Man with me recently asked me two very important questions.

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What Is Burning Man?

Posted: September 19, 2010 in philosophy

Burning Man is a test.

Burning Man is an exercise in community building.

Burning Man is the greatest city on earth.

Burning Man is a summer camp or a playground for adults.

Burning Man is survival.

Burning Man is pure art / pure theater.

Burning Man is freedom through submission to rules.

Burning Man is self-discovery.

Burning Man is a model for the future of humanity.

Burning Man is a totally illusory reality.

Burning Man is a totally constructed reality.

Burning Man is a vision quest.

Burning Man is for personal growth.

Burning Man is pure hedonism.

Burning Man is a modern embodiment of ancient pagan rites.

Burning Man is an antidote for world without rituals.

Burning Man is an antidote for a world without community.

Burning Man is intensely personal.

Burning Man is a living, breathing, working, playing, fucking, shitting piece of art.

Burning Man is a paean on the impermanence of human civilization.

Burning Man is vastly wasteful and intensely ecological.

Burning Man is my true family.

Burning Man is home.


Burning Man is all this and more. Please add what Burning Man means to you in the comments.


What Metropolis Taught Me

Posted: September 19, 2010 in Burning Man 2010
"Home" by Michael Christian - HDR photo by Hunter Luisi

"Home" by Michael Christian - HDR photo by Hunter Luisi

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Burning Man was much different than I imagined. Of course. How could it be otherwise? But what it left me with, how it changed me, can barely be put into words, which won’t stop me from trying my very best.

I thought I was going to get laid. I’ll be up front about that. I thought BM was going to allow me to satisfy my own desires. I thought I was going to be able to get what I wanted. But the playa is not about satisfying your own needs. What is the playa about?

My first stab is that the playa is about impermanence. The city rises and falls in 7 days, or about 3 months, depending on when you start counting. The man stands for 2 weeks and burns in 15 minutes. People are not supposed to live on the desert.

The playa has her own plan for your shit. As soon as we arrived I started losing shit. Some of it I got back later; some of it was gone forever.

This lead me to a sense of non-attachment. It’s just stuff. We are attached to a sense of control in the default world. We experience this illusion of control mostly because generations of us have dedicated our lives to building an artificial system on top of the system of nature, an artificial system we fight to uphold because it gives us an illusory sense of mastery over a chaotic and unpredictable natural world. Oh, there’s a skyscraper — a city built vertically in the clouds. Oh, there’s an airplane, it defies gravity.  Oh, there’s an economic system, built on the unnatural ideas of infinite growth and infinite waste (to say nothing of plundering the wealth of the ages).

There is no controlling the natural world (which is itself an illusion). There is also no need to fear the natural world. We humans have preoccupied ourselves for thousands of generations with building layer upon layer of circuitous, self-referential abstraction. We have been building a labryinth behind us as we tunnel deeper and deeper into narcissistic illusion, not realizing that we are constructing our own prison as we go, and forgetting that that which we are afraid of, that which we are really trying to escape, will always be with us, since it is part of us. We will never be able to divide ourselves away from it.

That is why the wilderness restores us and frightens us. It strips away the labryinth of abstraction we think of as the “real” world and reveals to us our selves, without the masks and costumes. It makes it easier for us to see ourselves as we truly are and harder for us to drown out the inner voice that speaks to us constantly of our true fears.

The playa showed me the true natural way of living. The true natural way of life is giving up our attempts to hide, and releasing our fear of reality. When we can stand true, fearless and open-hearted, in the presence and full glory of that which we most fear, then we will be free, and nothing in this wicked illusion will be able to threaten our peace, ever again.

This is what I learned at Burning Man: that the world is so full of beauty, brightness, openness, and forgiveness, and so totally accepting of us, that none of us need do anything but from total fearless love, ever again.

I want to meet others on this path. I want to build fearless  communities with economic systems that aren’t broken. I want to connect with those seeking a better way, and invite them to build a city with me, where fear has no home and love is abundant.

That is why I am here.  I am playa hanjin, the playa navigator, and I am here to navigate this bright future.