Deconstructing the cosmos of Cultural Movement @ Burning Man
There is no perfect definition to cultural movement. No matter what adjectives or ideas you paint the canvass of the phrase with, it will always be bordering the exactness of the idea behind a cultural movement. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be exactly wrong to construe that a cultural movement is an intermingling of ideas, emotions and expressions involving varied world cultures that essay a narrative spanning a multitude of human emotions.
Ideas that emanate from partaking in deep discussions, thoughts and problems that confront us, from any area of life that governs our being regardless of how grave or docile the problems are, but one that need an ideation and can morph situational limitations to converge into a giant, creative scalable idea.
Forms of Cultural Movements
Implicit in the idea of a cultural movement is to bring scattered minds concentrated at different parts of the world to focus toward a common celebration. It could be an idea of convergence between technology and climate change. Or, it could be a major game changer, celebrated each year to mark a major literary event that both excites and informs and builds discussion through active intellectual and physical participation.
If you would tread toward the sands of commerce, then you would find that a major cultural movement of our times is the TED conference. It not only informs of ideas and convergences between technology and individualistic intervention on one hand but ignites a spark of intellectual stimulation by reaffirming victory of creativity through manifestations of music, movies, literature, conventions and any path-breaking idea.
Moving on, in music lies the heart of many a creative spectacle. So, if you are a fan of popular culture then Woodstock would be an ideal example to understand an important composite of a Cultural Movement. At the chore of Woodstock wasn’t just music, not only a potent intoxicant to many of our problems but a giant magnet for cultural intermingling. From the Doors to The Mamas and Papas, Jimmy Hendrix to Creedance Clearwater Revival (CCR)- Woodstock brought not just the musical giants of their time but an entire world in front of a singular stage that was brought alive by both- endless musical riot generated by flawless giants of their time (noticeably the 60s) but by an electrifying ensemble of audience not necessitated by the geographical lineage to the United States of America, even though the event catapulted to seamless heights being staged at the US of A.
Just what does the world today need? In the words of Jackie D Shannon who expressed it lyrically well, “what the world needs is love”.
In times of massive economic divide as evidently seen from the lens of an ongoing economic crisis that has an entire world in its hold, our world is marred by several ecological problems, turf wars slinging racial disparities and scattered Geo-political events that have consumed harmony and peace in its wake of damning indignation that is evident in not just a Middle East, Asia but Latin America and Africa to quote.
One is ought to ask therefore- where is the love or culture of communion? Does free thinking and radical self expression still have a chance to prevail over forgings of insular views and biased expressions that have polluted the very fabric of communication. And, communication that isn’t necessarily technology heavy but creatively lit from the spark of human expression!
The answer to many ongoing problems and self- created struggles lies in the very DNA of Burning Man, inarguably world’s largest Cultural Movement. And, this isn’t just another fancy movement.
Break on through to the other side
It isn’t just a party of 70000 folks. But it is a place which is incredible to party at. It’s not a music festival with just music being the main attraction. Although music is definitely a part of it. Famous and bigger DJs come every year to be a part of it. If that’s your thing, that’s your love, then thumbs up! Come and get it. But what makes it not so mango musical is the set on which your DJ will be exploding the beats can be a huge LED pyramid with flame explosions or a stage created by thousands of bikes. You’ll find the master piece art world there created by the burn citizens themselves . Burning Man runs not by just money. But by gifting. True gifting. At Burning Man you learn to be a giver. A giver that is selfless. You are a receiver too. But when you receive you receive with gratitude. You don’t feel the need to return if you are receiving something, instead you connect with the person who is gifting you. You receive genuinely. It’s a place where you see a person’s face light up because of your generosity of even receiving love. It is not a place which has been created to experiment. It’s not an utopian learning arena. But a place of recreation.
Though no definition would for certain capture its essence in totality but it would be just to say that is a celebration of the very spirit called life, one that pervades through a mass movement of music, art and the existential powers two of the most potent form of communications can ever produce.
The Man Himself
Also called the Nevada Regional Burn, the theme based festival( next year, it’s Da Vinci workshop) that may also be construed as “Mad Max” meets ” Woodstock”, the weeklong intermingling of diversity tops up its triumph by burning a giant Wooden effigy marking the end of the celebration. So what does this mean?
There is a man in the center of the city. A man built by burn citizens. The man you look up to the whole time of the week. A man defined by an intermingling of love, communion, longing and by upholding of the gravitas that brings every soul to this corner of the world. A man not invincible but ultimate.
When you are madly in love or deeply in pursuit of burning desire, don’t you just end up burning yourself in its passionate hold? Perhaps, that signifies the spirit of such unparalleled human interaction.
Another parallel meaning could be, the old you which you create and then burn to create a better you. The Burning Man celebration is a celebration not only of music, not only of art, not only of you as an individual but a celebration of the world. It is the celebration of the change that is created. A change that is accepted and loved and admired. It’s a change towards a better version of you.
The DNA of Burning Man
A Musical fanfare,
An intermingling of world cultures,
A magnum opus of celebration of that thing called life,
brace yourself- Burning man is here
Describing the fest called Burning man reminds me of the potential in analogical expressions.
Imagine a giant wheel orbiting around you unfurling magical sparks for 7 continuous days, from which music, art, radical self expression, dance and an uplifting fanfare emanate through a convergence of technology and limitless creativity! Wouldn’t you be willing to ‘share’ the ride with hundreds and thousands of like-minded brains that are only different from you with respect to possessing different passports.
A blazing fest of magnanimous creativity, Burning Man brings alive a massive celebration of life as seen from the diverse fragrances of all these enchanting themes whilst glowing big at the Black Rock Desert at Nevada, United States.
Spanning a weeklong interaction through music, culture, art and individual expression bordering on existential crisis’ and delivering providence through palatable interaction between bodies, minds and importantly, soul- several thousands of people gather each year during the last week of August till the end of the first week in September in the sprawling rustic charms of Nevadan desert.
Away from city lights and from the beaming comforts of city-centric existence, one gets to be part of a massive cultural awakening that is avidly celebrated by the ethos of coming together instead of assimilating through shallow technology heavy forms of interaction.
What you often ignore
What’s interesting is that this isn’t just a festival where one enjoys the spoils of maddening creativity, but participate in upholding the confines where the fest is celebrated. In 2006, Burning Man generated 27000 tons of carbon dioxide. Not that those were early days, since it’s been in constant reinvigorating mode ever since being brought to life in 1986 by Larry Harvey.
Today, all carbon footprint is only skewed to the transportation to the place. The Bureau of Land Management (Nevada) which is responsible for the upkeep of desert, issues stipulations that require mandatory “trash clean up”, “capture of fluid drippings from vehicles”. You can’t literally make the cake and eat it. What’s yours (trash) is dully collected and tugged in enroute to home once you’re done.
How do you commute to and within the fest?
Burning Man isn’t an average hipsters’ wild party riot. It adheres to Strict policy of using bicycles upholds the event’s sanctity with pro environmental conscience. There are special licenses required to commute to the Black Rock City, but once there, you cannot use your regular wagons to move around. Bicycles over 4 wheelers is the policy. Even your ‘creativized’ caravan wagons that you use whilst holding up for 7 long but fascinating days have to tick the right boxes as far as design, theme, expression and interactivity are concerned.
Only then, does it make sense right?
The musical component
Music has its own philosophy. It could be one night stand or a soulful marriage beyond a single birth. It has the power to create magic in us. In our veins, minds and souls. Music is Rihanna, Chris Brown, Martin Garrix, Morrison, Adele and Jackson.
To some- it’s the roadside guitar player, the hum you hum when you’re glee. It’s everything. And is everywhere. Music has an overpowering dimension to cater to our enraged spirit. A weird tendency to fluctuate our moods.
It would be incorrect to think Music is Burning Man. It is just a part of it but an immensely valuable expletive that you serve blending emotional harmony, soulful rumination and expressive lyrical enjoyment. Implicit in Burning Man’s DNA is the revival of human spirit and celebration of togetherness through music. It could be a band, an impromptu act or a giant ensemble of technology making love to rustically charming undertones that border on something like music.
Therefore, the coming together in a fest of whopping proportions has to be marked by the radical touch that only music can serve. To talk of the past, Music festivals date back when Pythain Games were held in Ancient Greece. These games were founded sometime way back in 6th century B.C.
Music festivals are not only associated to blasting sounds and dancing hippies, which you will find aplenty at Burning Man. Music festivals have their own reasons to happen. Like food, performance art, merchandise vending etcetera. These festivals have an untold number and there is no end to them. One among these whimsical and incalculable festivals is the Burning Man.
Every year this city has a new face. A new aura. There what we see is a creation of experience, creation of inspiration, creation of new and unusual art.
You and Burning Man
Burning Man is not your just another music festival, it is a revival. Revival of spirits. Revival of identities. Revival of souls. It is a place where you find and discover what you actually are. There are no restrictions no fake cloaks no being what the society wants you to be.
You want to dance like no one’s watching. You can.
You want to ride a bike with just colors on your body. You can.
You want to scream and sing with that hoarse voice of yours. You can.
You want to look like a caveman. You can.
There are no rules. There is no binding. You just have to be you. Simple. Explore your true being. Explore the unexplored dimensions of you. And let music too help you- find you.
What makes Burning Man the greatest cultural movement of 21st century
Burning Man has unique principles which one follows necessarily to engage in magnanimous fun. Through radical inclusion, radical self reliance, radical self expression, gifting, leave no trace, decomodification, communal effort, civic responsibility, participation and immediacy.
White outs. Bringing something a little too much. Art. Marvelous art. Attempts of creation of Marvelous art. Fire. The fire. Lights. Many, amazing, beautiful lights. And The Temple.
At the heart of the massive outlay of individual congregation is The Temple of Grace, marked by a different look every year. Because every year it’s burnt down and then recreated the following year.
An enchantment of human spirit, it stokes your fears, strikes your anxieties and helps you sober down and disconnect through a passionate revitalization of the senses. You : Connect to your loss, hits, misses, emptiness, blissfulness, happiness and even misery.
By the end of the week as you see this Temple crumbling to ashes, in silence a power rises that lifts you up.
Is this Nirvana as we know it. Well be there for a week in your life and experience levitation to find out.