Sunday, August 31, 2014

Burning Man 2014

Burning Man 2014 -- the Playa after the rain
The Burning Man Festival, held every year at Black Rock desert near Reno, Nevada, is the closest thing in our modern God-is-Dead Era to a religious pilgrimage to a sacred site. Burning Man is reminiscent of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in which Geoffrey Chaucer describes the adventures of a group of pious English pilgrims journeying to the shrine of St Thomas Becket at Canterbury cathedral near the end of the 14th Century.

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour...

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open eye
(So priketh hem Nature in hir corages)
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimage.

In modern English:

When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March's drought into the root and all
And bathed every vein in sweet liquor with power
To generate therein and sire the flower...
And many little birds make melody
That sleep through all the night with open eye
(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)
Then folk do long to go on pilgrimage.
"Then longen folk to go on pilgrimage". Not in April as in Chaucer's Tale. But in early September, just before the autumnal equinox, tens of thousands of people drive out to the middle of an empty desert to create their own temporary Canterburys, Stonehenges and Ka'abas on the sands of the Black Rock Playa. Burning Man still awaits its description at the hand of a Chaucer-class bard. But in lieu of that yet-to-be-famous Black Rock poet, my friend and neighbor, Bruce Damer, PhD, traveled to Burning Man this year to give a few talks and to take lots of photos which he has been sharing with his friends.

Here's Burning Man 2014 through Bruce's eyes. Thank you, dear Doctor Damer, Our Man in the Playa, for recording some fragment of this modern-day pilgrimage for the enjoyment of us stay-at-homes.

May the spirit
of Blessed Sasha Shulgin
be with you
as we mine new magic
out of the old mystery.

Some kinda impromptu temple in the desert?
A shrine to fallen members of the tribe
Homage to Sasha Shulgin who passed away this year
Burning of "The Embrace"
The Destruction of the Temple

Doctor Bruce himself performing at Burning Man 2014

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