The “Burning Man” is a yearly event in Nevada that almost perfectly encapsulates a connection between technology and a spiritual experience of it. Beginning from indie roots in 1986, it’s grown to a 70,000+ attendee phenomenon that sees (for better or worse) visits from the world’s top tech elite.
Burning man is both an intrinsic part of Silicon Valley and a DJ party in the desert. It’s a place where folks are free to run around in sparkles and spandex and leather and nothing, covered in dust. A place for rich people to party and nude hippies to dance around the fire. But most of all it’s an experimental prototype for human technological possibility in the middle of nowhere that stands on the principle of radical acceptance of everyone.
It’s not easy to explain an entire city full of nearly 70,000 different people. But for the curious, allow me to try.
People who’ve been to Burning Man sometimes talk about the drugs, the parties, the music, and the tech elites at Burning Man. What they don’t really mention before you go is that there is Burning Man the festival and then there’s Burning Man the religious experience.
The beautiful, brain stimulating art, LED lights, costumes (or lack thereof), the mind-numbing throb of constant music and drum beats pulsing through your entire body, the openness, the love, the incessant hugging and the lack of a true night’s sleep all combine to bring about this wildish mental state observable in even the most curmudgeonly soul.
You breathe all of that in and carry it to the temple structure way out past The Man, then, when you get there start reading messages scrawled about the intricate wood work structure about regrets, sanity, suicide attempts or loved ones who’ve died. You might just lose it right there. Many do. You can hear the sobs among the quiet reverence within the wood cut walls.
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