Burning Man is dead, proclaims the San Francisco Chronicle. Grover Norquist and some hackers killed it. So, what comes next? Apparently, low tech partying with carrier pigeons in Bakersfield…
Burning Man got killed by hackers and Grover Norquist. What’s next?
Burning Man is so over.
This isn’t exactly news in some quarters. It’s been 10 years since I last went to Burning Man, and I remember meeting burners who were complaining about the “new people” and their “new ways” back then…the last couple of years have brought such an avalanche of sad developments — from Grover Norquist’s caravan to the luxury camps of tech millionaires — that I think we can all agree it’s time to close the book on Burning Man’s “10 Principles” of radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, blah blah blah.
It was always a stretch of the imagination for the Burning Man organization to espouse those things when tickets cost hundreds of dollars and attending the event requires a time and material investment of several hundred dollars more…
So what comes next? It’s an interesting question, because the need for something like Burning Man has grown, not diminished.
The Bay Area may have a secular culture, but we’re still deeply attached to religious ritual — hence all the desperate talk of meaningful work and businesses that are going to change the world. Burning Man’s annual cycle, detailed behaviorial restrictions and ethos of purification all served the ritual purposes that so many people seem to need. Whatever comes next will likely have some of those elements as well…
My hunch is that the next “event” will start in an unexpected place and focus on being as low tech as possible.
I’m thinking about a place like Bakersfield or Fontana — a place with a lot of foreclosed houses and a distracted population.
It won’t sound as attractive as partying in the desert, but in time that will become a bonus. An unsexy locale will weed out the riffraff and be more environmentally friendly, to boot — reusing and recycling are always better than having to restore an environment that should have been left alone in the first place.
As for the low-tech element, that too will become part of the event’s founding mythology: “Imagine a brief moment in time and space where people gather together to celebrate, via information they receive from handwritten tickets, word of mouth, and carrier pigeons.”
If it sounds good now, it’s going to sound amazing by 2020.
Read the full article at the SF Chronicle.