240 pages!! And I’m back from Burning Man.

Burning Man is an experience which I both love and dislike but, in the end, I value what it has to offer. It’s refreshing and eye-opening being away from the internet (not that I don’t love you, internet), being away from all my normal contacts and friends, being in a completely different world. The saying “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” applies here, and indeed, for many people it’s just an excuse to wildly party and take alcohol, pot, acid, molly, ketamine (!?!?), and other drugs I’ve never even heard of. Oh, and the random sex! And the weird nudity! It’s also dusty and filthy and hot and loud, and you have to maintain a little campsite, and for some people this activates their “Lord of the Flies” territorial trigger and leads to petty squabbles, the dark side of every small community. Even I’ve gotten grouchy after working in a camp kitchen all evening and I’m not proud of it.

But then there’s also the strange, unexpected encounters with friendly, welcoming people, folks from all over offering you water, or food (rarely), or alcohol (always), or hookah, or books and stickers, or whatnot. The chance to be equally welcoming to strangers. The bizarre giant installation artworks, the jerry-rigged and totally unsafe modified cars, the way el-wire and other luminescence transforms a dusty tenty city by day into a rainbow-colored glowland (I’m told it’s extra beautiful when you’re on LSD) at night. The rituals and dances and giant bonfires. The seminars and consciousness-expanding exercises and yoga/chakra practice and games (some madman, not me, has even run tabletop roleplaying games at Burning Man) and discussions and other little ways to do things you don’t do every day.

Getting away from other people, today as always, is a privilege: a Burning Man ticket costs ~$300, not counting food and tents and supplies. On the lamest level, Burning Man is basically a boutique hipster refugee camp, despite the praiseworthy decommodification elements (no corporate logos allowed, no exchanges or sales allowed within the gates, except for the inevitable cafe at the center camp selling coffee and ice). But getting away is also a vital human necessity: you become a different person in different surroundings and this is one of the greatest blessings (and sometimes, one of the scariest risks) a person can experience. I enjoy Burning Man. Going to unfamiliar territory, on more or less your own terms, is a gift. I like to escape the world, even if I know it’s an illusion, it’s not permanent, that the world will always have the power to snap its fingers and call me back.

NEXT UPDATE: Wednesday!!

(UPDATE: Sorry for the delay, the new page will take a little longer than expected. Please hang in there…)