Last year Burning Man made critical mass in the world of festivals and rose to the mainstream, as we report here, becoming the elite hotspot of Silicon Valley, celebrities and members of the jet set in search of transcendental experiences, satori scheduled, Enterogens and a little dust and sun. Some celebrate that people like Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Bezos (some of the VIPs who have recently attended) can give themselves a taste of Burning Man’s off-grid vision and off-grid and expand their mind, hoping they will change their business philosophy ; others believe that it is contradictory that these types of characters attend and come to co-opt the festival, when the idea of Burning Man is precisely to flee from the type of civilization that Silicon Valley companies are creating. Will a CEO's cosmic Black Rock experience become a brand new idea for that new killer app that will make him have an edge over his competitors, or to free himself from the ultra-capitalist mentality? Of course, if all you want is to go to drugs with class, in the midst of top-level psychedelic art and pretty girls dressed as goddesses or apocalyptic tramps to stimulate the trip, Burning Man is still a good place. But many of the old burners believe that this was not the essential spirit of the festival; There was a different consciousness. It was more about art and freedom; They wanted to build another world, but this has become a Disneyland for adults.
This year, one of the journalists most linked to this community, Daniel Pinchbeck, has written in Reality Sandwich an interesting essay on why, for the first time in 15 years, he will stop attending this festival in the Nevada desert. This is what Pinchbeck of Burning Man thought on the crest of psychedelic technology in the 200th year, and this is what he thinks in 2015. Here are some paragraphs of his recent article:
This year I will not go. There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that I feel that Burning Man - an institution in its own perennial process of change and evolution - has strayed from its path. I hope it's only temporary. I know and love many of the people who create the festival, and I believe in their vision and intention.
Burning Man has accomplished many incredible things, opening a whole new dimension of individual freedom and expression. At the same time the festival has become a victim of its own success. It has become a massive entertainment complex, a bit like Disneyland, for a contingent composed mostly of a millionaire elite. It has always had a bit of this vibe, but it has become more pronounced in recent years. The potential for true liberation or awakening has become increasingly dark and remote.
[...] In Burning Man, there was always tension between two visions of worlds, which he would call hedonistic libertarian and anarchic mysticism. I feel that, as a result of its rapid growth, the festival has become a magnet for the wealthy elite (the people of Silicon Valley, the owners of the media and their groups, the people of Ibiza), the balance has overturned in favor of libertarian hedonism. Art carts have become new yachts, representing expressions of massively inflated egos. Wealthy camps spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a vehicle to strut it out there, with a velvet cord vibrate. Increasingly, the Burning Man culture feels like another version of the self-absorbed, nihilistic and unconscious vision of the liberal economy that is rapidly annihilating the life of a shared world.
I remember, a couple of years ago, I stayed next to a camp that had been built for the founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté and his friends. The camp was empty during the week. There were many gypsy caravan-style shops, waiting for Europe's guests to arrive on the weekend. There were also some Mexicans who worked during the weekend, building large umbrellas and decorating the cars. No one had offered workers a place to stay in the luxurious tents carefully protected from the sun. So they had tended a small nylon tent in the sun. This image summarizes what Burning Man has become, inexorably.
Pinchbeck laments the decline of Burning Man, since it is (or was) one of the few places that currently offers an opportunity to live initiatory and transformative experiences. Burning Man "revealed to us our innate abilities to build a new society or redesign it based on creativity, community, inspiration and compassion."