"...be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now ... Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." - Rainer Maria Rilke
10 July 2005 - 2:00AM EST
As I write this it is 55+ days until the Man burns.
As you read this - it will be (click HERE) days away!
I will add updates here and there - if energy and time allow. Just a lot of rambling thoughts in my head right now I would like to share...
This trip to Burning Man at this point is mostly mental and physical preparation - getting mind and body in shape - gym, riding bike, reading reading reading. This part has become such an amazingly major project in itself - the careful planning, studying of logistics, and of course searching for the ever-evasive spondulics.
"A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind." - Lewis Mumford
For perspective: in my 53 years on the planet, I have done surprisingly little traveling by myself; and camping - only once by myself and certainly never in the desert.
I had looked at images and read descriptions and had thoughts about going for a few years - but somehow always from that detached distance with which one looks at travel books - perhaps a bit of daydreaming, but no leaps towards any kind of action.
This year the images opened as if for the first time - demanding attention - and behold - I saw myself there! - and from then onward it was just a case of how to make it a reality.
I'm a native NewYork City boy - playfully arrogant with the glow of Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx in my bloodstream. Even as the earth dramatically shifted on it's axis earlier this year - oh! you didn't feel it? - it still didn't completely shake off the dream to someday move back there. While I delight in spring peeper frogs and the magnificence of the stars and Aurora Borealis, and the need to be close to that sometimes, nature abhors my vacuum. I love the roar, the splendor and churn of human activity. (Besides, unless you can find time to head into the woods, Vermont is mostly television-consumer-culture suburban life - which I never understood/appreciated, with no real urban center nearby... Thank goodness for Montreal a hundred miles away.)
My favorite things about my visit to this planet have been human beings and some of the things they create - the music, art, words, architectures, foods, films, pornography, et cetera. Of course the opposite is true also - the worst things I have seen, from gods to wars, are also human creations.
I love my Solitude - time to work, create - later to share. It is something I can find here or in a city (there is plenty of space for anonymity and a very different kind of solitude in walking down a city street filled with people). But alas, solitude's dark twin - loneliness - that painful silence which also has no geographical restraints - comes around regularly too.
I went to New York the weekend after the buildings crashed to earth. Walked the pain streets until feet blistered and a toenail fell off. I have this little canister of ashes... And a little bottle of water from Lourdes from a rambling trip to around Europe some 20 years ago... What miracles would mixing the two together bring? Nothing that wouldn't be outdone by buying a ticket to the Burning Man festival.
I will be looking for the solitary moments - just me and gravity hanging out - endless horizons in all directions but down - stars above, desert to the left and right, back and front. I will also be looking for the magical connections - through individual words and eyes, the roar of music and art, human flesh, fire - exposing my heart - taking in - some of it just to absorb like a gorgeous wine, some to reshape and hopefully give back.
And yes, bring some of it back, dust in blood - fiber clearing the veins to keep open the heart dams. I have this other canister of ashes - from more directly personal things that crashed to earth this year... perhaps I can mix them with the playa dust, maybe some spit and tears and piss and semen, make a clay, build something new. I've made some peace with Surprise - learning to breath deeper when she's doing the rug-pulling thing, accepting graciously when she delivers Joy - and am available for Charm and Awe.
"Art is a form of catharsis." - Dorothy Parker
Unless I include this whole preparation process, the trip in itself as part of the creative act - the willing of the canvas... this writing as program notes - then the art comes later - I am only making available the space for it to happen in.
Start by drawing a horizon line: beginning of perspective class.
"Resolve to be always beginning - to be a beginner!" - Rainer Maria Rilke
Right now it's all about logistics, reading about survival, and money gathering: selling stuff on ebay and OWO stuff I designed at CafePress; making strange music compilations for friends; even some tech support on their computers and cleaning their cars for spare change.
Two weeks ago a wrench was thrown into these works when while going to pick up my kids my car's transmission ate itself. Instant response: cancel trip. But a day later, more calmly analyzing the situation, listening to friends who, knowing me, said "but you have to go!" - I decided to take a loan out to fix the car and keep the mad savings and accumulating going for the Burning Man trip. Where there's a will...
Yes, yes dear friends all around, supportive in all kinds of ways - it helped me decide yes that i could do this, to say yes to the desert expanses and draw it close to me and smell the dust perfume yes and my heart is going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
According to the internet map I will be traveling 2943.1 miles. Probably an airplane from Burlington to Chicago to Sacramento, California. Current plans are to leave crack-of-dawn Saturday 27 August - spend day in Sacramento buying the things I need that I can't be traveling with. It appears easier to rent a car in Sacramento than Reno - where the rental folks are not too happy to rent cars going into the middle of the desert. I will spend the night there (cheap hotel or beforehand find some kind person with floorspace to share), then head towards the festival early Sunday. A car drive - 130 miles to Reno (where they say money can buy anything, but I won't have much) - then another 120 miles to Gerlach, a small town a dozen miles away from - Black Rock City, population 35,000+ (of which no trace will be found after the festival). Set my site up and help setting up the theme camp (see link below) and make this my home for about 8 days. I will be leaving Burning Man early on Monday 5 September, with hopefully a flight back late afternoon/evening. Tuesday 6 September, decompression at home. Then back to work.
I'd like to try to go to NYC once before then - to touch base with my other home - just in case I don't get back because some crazed Southern California Athiest Left-Wing Hippie Sex Cult conscripts me.
"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." - J.R.R. Tolkein
Maybe a bon voyage pot-luck party at my house on August 13th or thereabouts? Tell me what you think, offer me jobs, or anything else - right here.
Interesting/fun links below.
"I live not in dreams but in contemplation of a reality that is perhaps the future." - Rainer Maria Rilke
• a positive "religious" perspective
• a scary "religious" perspective
• burning man panorama (click on image & move)
• some great photographs and even more photographs
• from the google satellite
• burning man panties
• burning man polls
• my home camp
Additions - July 22nd ...
• events list
• 2004 census
• theme camps 2005
Additions - Aug 5th ...
22 days til I leave... Time for some endless thanks - to the many dear friends who have poured out support - without whom this escapade would not be possible - Angela and Eric, Cathy W, Christa and Steven, Gail F, Joan S, Joel D., Jodi and Morgan, Kate P, Kate S, Laurie F, Lynn B, Mark F, Wayne M, Zena W.... and so many others who have provided inspiring words, including some great folks on the Poly-Paradise e-mail list.
Additions - Aug 19th
• daily events (what would you do?)
• theme camps (where would you fit in?)
• aerial photographs (parachuting anyone?)
Leaving in a week. Alex.
A month after returning I finally put the words together and uploaded my photographs onto the web. You can read it here and see it here.