E50
Burning Man Live | Episode 50 | 04|27|2022

The Magic When Art Happens

Guests: Tyson Yunkaporta, Caveat Magister

Tyson Yunkaporta is an artist and scholar of the Apalech Clan in Australia. Caveat Magister is a Burning Man philosopher. They explore ceremony, circumstance, and how art is not about the object. They talk through the power of play, mining the margins, and what indigenous peoples have known that modern people are rediscovering. 

They discuss Black Rock City, Regional events, and the impact of Gifting, Radical Inclusion, and the ‘wrong’ white people. They explore ideas that are uncommon and uncomfortable: 

  • the ethics of creating spaces where magic is more likely to happen
  • taking art back from the Priestly class to restore balance to the world
  • how Burning Man has maintained integrity, if it even has… 

Deakin.edu.au: Dr Tyson Yunkaporta

Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World (Harper Collins Publishing)

Beer with Bella: Tyson Yunkaporta (New York Times)

Turn Your Life Into Art by Caveat Magister (Burning Man Journal)

Excerpts from “Turn Your Life Into Art” by Caveat Magister (medium)

The Scene That Became Cities (Penguin Random House Publishing)

Burning Man Journal: Caveat Magister

Fascinating Stranger

Our guests

Tyson Yunkaporta is an academic, an arts critic, and a researcher who is a member of the Apalech Clan in far north Queensland. He carves traditional tools and weapons and also works as a senior lecturer in Indigenous Knowledges at Deakin University in Melbourne. He lives in Melbourne.

Caveat Magister, aka Benjamin Wachs, is frequently mistaken for a fictional character. He has lived in a Buddhist monastery in India, was a founding member of Burning Man Project’s Philosophical Center, and the founding board chair of The San Francisco Institute of Possibility. His book The Scene That Became Cities is considered the definitive exploration of Burning Man’s philosophy. Visit his website: fascinatingstranger.com

Transcript

STUART: Welcome back invisible friends to another episode of Burning Man LIVE. I’m Stuart Mangrum and this show is, uh, well, I’m not sure exactly how to describe it. I mean, it’s definitely not our usual blah, blah, Burning Man, blah, blah. This one is pretty special. Longtime friend of the program Caveat Magister, author, my friend and colleague in the Philosophical Center, recorded this amazing conversation about art and magic, Burning Man and Bush Doofs, colonialism and control, with Tyson Yunkaporta, an artist and scholar of the Apalech Clan up in Northern Australia who’s also a researcher and senior lecturer in indigenous knowledges down at Deakin University in Melbourne. 

It’s long. It’s a bit rambly in places. It’s interrupted by screaming children and at one point an actual swarm of bees. And I just can’t stop listening to it, so I want to share it with you. So here we go. Here’s Caveat Magister in conversation with Tyson Yunkaporta.

CAVEAT: So, hi!

TYSON: Hi. Major Caveat. 

CAVEAT: Caveat Magister, my nom de playa yeah. 

TYSON: Nice.

Although it was first used for me in an academic fight at graduate school when someone said, “If they can shut him down, then they can shut any of us down, at which point it’s caveat magister; let the teacher beware.” That has become my handle.

TYSON: Well, I won’t get didactic on you then. I don’t have that in my pedagogical arsenal.

CAVEAT: It’s bullshit, anyway.

TYSON: Most things are.

CAVEAT: When you get down to it.

TYSON: Mostly reality is just a series of heuristics that we attempt to try and swim through the quantum soup.

CAVEAT: It seems like. At least I find that behaving as though that is the case does better for me than behaving as if it’s something more solid and real. 

TYSON: Yeah. Heuristics that have the rigor of collective sort of aggregate wisdom over time; they tend to have a bit more integrity. 

CAVEAT: We’re able to innovate, but we’re not smarter than the people who came before. 

TYSON: We can collectively respond. I mean, there’s a volcano every now and then, and floods over here. And we are able to collectively respond when it’s like, okay, all the old heuristics no longer apply because that mountain’s no longer there, and everyone’s dead except the five of us. So, yeah, but there is still that continuity. There’s a through-line. The pattern changes, but it’s still the pattern.

CAVEAT: I’m a big believer in an idea that I’ve come across that I find best expressed by Eugène Ionesco who said that it’s the job of the avant-garde to rediscover eternal truths. It’s not that we are contradicting eternal truths, it’s that they have to be rediscovered for the moment they’re in. There’s a lot that we can inherit, but we can’t simply inherit it. We have to go through a process of rediscovering it sometimes, and we’ll relate to it differently because there is the internet now, because we are in different kinds of crises now, because…

TYSON: Well, the problem with the avant-garde has always been that the only ones who are doing that work with integrity are the ones you never hear of. If you know them, they’re probably gammon. Gammon, that’s a word where they say bullshit. Ah, man, there’s so many pretenders. You find them sort of going out to the margins as much as possible and mining, mining the margins for those rediscoveries, rather than collectively retrieving forward from what really is and remains, which is a lot of things. 

Every time your grandma spills a bit of salt and picks it up and chucks it over her shoulder, every time you’re collecting the wishbone off the chicken, and you don’t know why. There are solid things. There are a million things like that that happen all the time. There are things to retrieve forward. There are patternings that you find in those moments of disaster when the mutual aid structures just pop into place and everybody knows what to do, and behaves in perfect ways. We’re like whales bred in captivity. We still know the migration routes when you let us go. Humans are pretty deadly like that. 

CAVEAT: I love that metaphor. 

TYSON: Yeah. But there’s a lot of gammon stuff. So there’s a lot of people who will mine the margins to bring back little pearls, you know, little gems, and then own them. And then a lot of your avant-garde artists that are the most famous, your beat poets, all your everything else. Every generation it’s something new. A century ago they were mining like queer culture, and then all these straight people were mining that for their sort of Bohemian side of things. They were mining the occult, and then just inventing stuff. It’s Bohemians, and then it’s beat poets. And then all the way up, mining all different things. Then mining black culture in the United States, and then we’re mining this and that, until finally, you get the peak of the evolution of the avant-garde, which is that bland thing that mines all of them at once across many dimensions of social space and squeezes it into one pair of skinny jeans. And that’s your hipster.

CAVEAT: Yeah. It’s not that I think the occult is all bullshit, but it does really seem like the occult gets massively popular during times of extreme bullshit. 

TYSON: Yeah. This is amazing that we’re having this conversation. Yesterday I wrote a paragraph and then last night, my Viking friend Rune Rasmuson, who’s a Nordic animist, is trying to organize a big ceremony for the Northern hemisphere, a sort of call-and-response thing. We started having a yarn and he introduced exactly the same concept. And we’re talking about the same thing now. It’s amazing. Do you want me to read this paragraph to you? 

CAVEAT: Yeah. 

TYSON: It’s just a paragraph. I mean, it’s a long-ish one, but I think you’ll like it.

Hang on a sec… 

Man, the bees are coming to the house. Yeah. So I got to go, Look I’ve got to, I actually have to go immediately because the bees are actually coming into our house and going next door and we are in lots of strife. So I’m going to have to go and deal with this swarm. I’m trying not to get stung too much. Sorry about that. Catch you next time.

Before we get started, where are you located in your timeline, genealogy, and place?

CAVEAT: I’m a writer and artist in San Francisco, and for the past 15 years, I have been delving deeply into an artistic lineage here, that while not wholly unique to the Bay Area, was concentrated in it. I’m thinking of groups like the Suicide Club, the Cacophony Society, then Burning Man, as well as smaller groups that no one outside the scene has ever heard of.

I have become something not only a participant in that with my own art developing in the process but also something of a chronicler of it. Then Burning Man invited me to be in its Philosophical Center when they founded that. I worked closely with its primary founder, Larry Harvey, and in 2019, I wrote what is currently considered the definitive book on Burning Man philosophy and culture, “The Scene That Became Cities.”

And then in 2021, I wrote a book on San Francisco’s independent art scene, not so much as a history, although there’s some history there, but as a ‘how to’ book with my contention that over about a period of about 30 years, they were taking a form of artistic expression that Alejandro Jodorowsky called Psychomagic, and developing it in new ways and bringing it to new heights. It’s not that we invented Psychomagic, we certainly didn’t, but I don’t think a secular, even atheistic culture, has done what San Francisco Bay Area artists were able to do with it for about 30 years, creating in many ways, miracles without religion.

TYSON: So you were retrieving forward through a tradition that has a continuity that connects to something prior, but trying to maintain the core of integrity of that one, which I imagine… I mean, this beehive, the reason it swarmed was because a moth got into it and it just, you know, sort of laid the larvae in there. Then the larvae took over and we’ve had to kill the hive because of that. 

How have you managed to preserve the integrity of that tradition through Burning Man despite the sort of infestations of Californian ideology and stuff like that, your Ayn Rand meets Ram Dass kinda business that’s flowing like silicon and kind of just eating away at the sides? You’ve got what’s coming into your hive all the time there, but you seem to have maintained the integrity of it. So how have you managed that, just with good practice?

CAVEAT: That’s an ongoing question. There’s not one answer to that. Whether or not we have successfully maintained our integrity depends on who you ask. 

There’s a very bizarre transformation that happened between the late nineties and the mid 2000s when Burning Man in Black Rock City, in the Black Rock Desert, which for its first decade was inhabited by people who were doing all kinds of radical sex practices, who were firing guns. They had drive-by shooting ranges. They were setting off fireworks. 

By the late 2000s this was considered one of the major spiritual pilgrimage sites in the Western world for new-age spirituality. What happened? Did something fundamentally change? Was it a transition that still preserved the integrity of it? This is still a controversial subject. It depends on who you ask, but what fundamentally happened was that we let everybody in, and for a variety of reasons the Burning Man Black Rock City event started to appeal to all kinds of people outside of this community.

TYSON: So it sounds like you’re the moth. You’re the moth coming into this wretched hive of scum and villainy, all these deplorables. Ah, that’s mad. You’re coming into a bunch of like frat boys and militia rejects doing drive-by shooting ranges, and you have laid your larvae in there and have awareness become peace, love, and mung beans. It’s pretty cool. I like it. 

CAVEAT: It’s remarkable. And whether or not you think that something fundamental was lost or something fundamental was preserved, it really depends on what you were there for. During this period when it was more archaic and, you know, there were guns and fireworks and people were just doing whatever, it really was a kind of a frontier space. People were coming out to the Black Rock Desert and seeing it however accurately as a tabula rasa, as, you know, a space where they could behave as though they were out on a frontier where there were no rules. 

And then gradually over time, they imagined the city into existence. Black Rock City was the temporary city that’s built every year out at Burning Man, started out as a joke. It started out as people saying, “Oh, ha ha ha.” Somebody put up a sign saying “Welcome to Black Rock City.” And of course, there was nothing like that. 

But then somebody wanted to create a cafe, and somebody wanted to create a radio station and gradually as a kind of creative joke, this infrastructure started coming in every year. And then eventually, roads came in, and eventually, they started planning things for all the different spontaneous villages and theme camps that were emerging. And so an urban area…

TYSON: Once you have roads, then Leave No Trace becomes problematic. 

CAVEAT: We’re still leaving no trace. The roads disappear when we’re done. 

TYSON: Ah, nice. 

CAVEAT: Yeah. We are the largest Leave No Trace event in the world. But it meant that suddenly you could find people, people had addresses. It also meant that speed limits came into play because you know you can’t just drive fast anywhere. You know, there are pedestrians milling around.

TYSON: Do you have ceremony to come into the place and the people of the land there and the entities and spirit of place there? Do you have a ceremony to seek that permission for that place and then ceremony to clean and leave no trace with in spirit when you leave? 

CAVEAT: This has also evolved over time. it wasn’t present initially. But over time, yeah, you had a number of practices that developed. First of all, the Black Rock Desert is on land that was originally Paiute territory. When Burning Man established a temple, a temporary temple every year that gets burned at the end of the event, it started inviting a group of elders in to bless it, annually before the event begins.

Similarly, there are rituals, smaller and larger, that the people who are coming early to set up the city’s infrastructure do. There’s something called Early Man, which has sort of a collective early reenactment of what they’re — pre-enactment, actually — of what they’re doing.

Before that there’s something called the golden spike ceremony when they determine where the structure of the Man is going to be out in the desert each year. They have a ceremony in which a golden spike is pounded down to mark that access, that place. And everyone who participates in the ceremony, at least in theory, gets a turn with a sledgehammer to help pound that spike down.

TYSON: How do you think it would change the energies of that, and therefore the patterns and structures of what becomes built, if instead of a golden spike, you attempted that opening ceremony with a golden ring or a golden cup. 

CAVEAT: I don’t know. 

TYSON: Like if you tried it with a, if you basically tried it with a pussy rather than a dick one year and see what happened? 

CAVEAT: I think you would find a lot of support for that. The spike actually measures something, so how would you use the ring?

TYSON: Yeah, well, it measures, it penetrates. It’s pounded into the earth, but if there was a ring or a cup that was laid upon the earth and the dust invited to fill it. That might be something else. 

CAVEAT: That’s a fascinating question. 

TYSON: I think if you had women leading that ceremony one year. Or maybe you might do both and see what comes in. So you have this balance then from men’s business and women’s business. That’s something that most cultures that have managed to survive more than a millennium have that. They have that women’s ceremony and men’s ceremony as your foundational keystone of coming into place and being in place. There is both men’s and women’s business there. That would be something to find out as well. I mean, it might well be that that site where you’re doing that is a men’s business site traditionally, so you’re responding to those

CAVEAT: I was just going to say, I think the closest thing we have to what you would call a women’s business counterpart to that is that the flame that eventually lights the Man near the end of the week is initially created in a cauldron and then preserved throughout the week and then taken to light the Man. 

TYSON: Oh, nice. Oh, yeah. Well, it’s there. 

CAVEAT: That ritual was established by one of Burning Man’s cultural founders, a woman named Crimson Rose, who has led it and shepherded that through the entirety of Burning Man’s history. 

TYSON: That’s pretty cool. Well, this is all very exciting. 

I should introduce myself too, and try and locate myself here. So I’m like three and a half thousand kilometers south of my homelands, that’s right up the top of Australia, I belong to a clan up there called the Apalech Clan. I do have ancestral ties down in the south. But they’re sort of older pariah ties with not much continuity.

Going culturally from that my people, my family, are all in the north here in Australia — what’s currently known as Australia, but you know, it won’t always be. I’m currently on now Boonwurrung country here with permission from senior elders to do some of this work and do it carefully.

I’m a very marginal person, a very damaged person, lots of pathologies, and therefore don’t know very much. I don’t have a lot of wisdom in any of the worlds that I interact with, but I get that same kind of trickster energy I guess that you have. 

There are some interesting perspectives that come from somebody who’s kind of out of balance in things. It’s not a great way to be in the world, but there are some interesting things that people like to know, from somebody who’s inhabiting a space, but it is kind of a bit broken.

In most grounded cultures there is that interest in finding the perspectives of people who have those asymmetries, physically or mentally. Most traditions have that. There’s not a lot of ableism in cultures that are grounded in the land. Because you know often that that shriveled seed, that’s the one that’ll give you the plant that will still be standing after the locusts come through. So I’m the crappy little seed, bad seed. 

I’m still a boy at 50. And I probably will be till I’m about 60 or 70, until I can come properly into things again. But very happy to have the perspective that I have. Happy to be a cautionary tale in the world, and be able to help people to find ways to do things carefully, respectfully, properly, but without judging people. 

CAVEAT: I was wondering if you wanted to start off by reading the paragraph.

TYSON: All right. I’ll just read this out and then we can play with it.

There is certainly magic in the world, but it only works when you don’t try to control and scale it. Spiritual practitioners are severely limited by location and relation in their work and can only do so much healing and cursing and rainmaking.

It’s a bit like the placebo effect in medicine research. Scientists must acknowledge that the magic of belief can have an effect on health outcomes, but they are smart enough to know that while this must be factored into their analysis, it is pointless to attempt to harness the placebo as a health product for mass distribution. 

The field of positive psychology attempted to scale magic beyond local applications in the positive thinking industry, but that only resulted in a pandemic of narcissism in a global financial crisis. 

Another way to put it is in Star Wars terms. There is indeed a force that flows from all living things and binds them. But as soon as you gather a Jedi Council, a bunch of lightsabers in a training program based on child abuse, the whole galaxy is pretty much fucked. 

CAVEAT: It strikes so many chords in me. One of the things that I really emphasize in my recent book “Turn Your Life Into Art” is that you can’t create this sort of thing mechanistically. You can’t build a mechanism or a machine where, you know, you have an input and an output and you just go through the process. You’re creating a garden, you’re creating an environment where the conditions where lightning is more likely to strike, or fairies are more likely to inhabit, but you’re not in charge.

TYSON: Yeah. There is no industrial purpose at all for magic. It’s not for that.

CAVEAT: Yeah. There was a degree to which, I mean, you can sort of aim it in certain directions. You can try to do something for a broad outcome, but the moment you try to do it for anything other than its own sake, really, it just slips away. 

TYSON: Yeah. That was in the middle of a big conversation we were having in our lab about zero-point energy, and why that doesn’t work. You’re trying to extract energy from a void. You know, whenever you get a void, like a temporary vacuum, and temporary vacuums do happen in nature, immediately creation rushes in to fill it. Potentially there’s energy there that you can harness, but… You know, so we have geckos here. And there’s geckos all around the world, too; that little lizard, you know, it employs that with its feet. That’s why I can, its toes can stick to any surface as it does that. Those little temporary voids, but you can’t scale that to the size of a crocodile, for example, thank goodness that that doesn’t work. You know, so these things don’t scale and they’re not meant to be replicated and then mass-produced.

CAVEAT: Which is the other area that really spoke to me. There’s been an ongoing debate in Burning Man culture about, “Well, how do we reach more and more people? How do we reach more and more people?” And eventually, people start to say, “Well, how do we scale?” And I’ve always been very partisan in this. I’m saying that, no, it doesn’t scale. You can’t scale. You can make it bigger than you think you can; nobody ever imagined 20 years ago that there would be 80,000 people and there would still be some magic there, but you can’t scale it because that implies taking away all of these elements that are necessary for the experience to be what it is. And once you do that, you lose the experience.

TYSON: Yeah. When you scale the village, you lose the village, you know? It’s too big. 

However, there can be lots and lots of villages. There can be lots and lots of Burning Men all around. These can be interrelated and fractally nested within a sort of a loose conglomerate, like a syndicated kind of thing. You can have distributed networks of villages in this way. That’s how you can scale. But at the local level, it’s small, or it doesn’t work. And magic works the same way, unfortunately.

CAVEAT: There aren’t shortcuts. You have to put in the work every time and you’ll get all of it in and, you can’t get away with half-assing it in some way, or try to form a shortcut or try to cut out the non-essential bits, you always have to put that effort in, each and every time.

TYSON: That’s it. Yeah, you really do. That kept coming up in the zero-point energy thing as well. It’s that idea that, if it’s energy just coming out of nowhere, then it’s coming from, in some way, it’s coming from that world of spirit, it’s a different energy. But you have to have a balance of inputs and outputs when you’re doing your practice spiritually. That bad sorcery that’s always finding loopholes and illusions for stealing, for stealing energy, and for making something that isn’t is, something that shouldn’t be is, you know what I mean? And depleting somewhere.

Basically, sorcery is just an extractive practice applied to magic. But that’s all we could see when we were looking at all these different, perpetual motion machines, all this kind of stuff. It’s stealing energy from another site there. And then I was talking to Canadian First Nations elders about that, and they were saying where you would have to do ceremony. People would have to do ceremony to send energy back. But then they said the physical energy that you would use up before that ceremony to make it enough, then you might as well just have those dancers and people in the ceremony, they might as well just be on a treadmill in the first place making them, you know what I mean? So what, what would be the point?

CAVEAT: Yeah, this raises a question: is there a code of ethics for this kind of magic? What are the ethical guidelines? What are the ethical groundings? I reject absolutely the notion that, you know, well, if we’re doing some kind of art, then, we’ll have just unlimited free expression. No, no, no. That doesn’t work, but I’m not entirely sure how you start. 

TYSON: In our cultures if anybody’s saying the word magic, they’re just public enemy number one, you know. There are so many things that we do just every day, and then there’s ceremony and ritual and there’s all these things. And then there is the miraculous, and there is the the things that other people would call divination going on, things that other people would call blessing, binding.

And then there’s magic, which is people trying to exert their will on the world by sort of stealing energy and putting it somewhere where it shouldn’t be. People using the image, the name, all these things, the blood, or the hair, that stuff, that no good stuff.

We’re so paranoid about that that basically the protocols of that are bound up with your everyday living. So for example, nobody’s ever allowed to be alone in our community. If anybody’s walking on their own or going somewhere on their own, then they’re under suspicion for doing black magic, straight away. So, you’re always together with other people. If that’s happening, then you’re in relation. And if you’re in good relation, then nobody’s doing black magic. The people who do sorcery are the ones, the solitary ones that go off on their own, and they do things that cause horrendous disruptions.

But then there are practitioners who are accepted by the communities. They might be a hundred years old or 75 years old or something, and they’ve just so ascended in their knowledge that they can do cursing and blessing, and it’s neither light nor dark. They’re called on to do healing and to apply the knowledge here and there. But often you’ll find those people are kind of pariahs as well. They find themselves on the outside. I mean, and nobody can look them in the eye. They can’t play with children. Children can’t touch them or touch any of their belongings. You don’t go near them; they’ll make you sick, just from the power that they’re carrying around, you know? 

But even they can’t scale it up. Even in all their knowledge, it’s like in Aladdin. When Jafar becomes the most powerful being in the universe, which is a genie, but then he didn’t realize that comes with being locked in a lamp and having to do what you’re told. What’s the line? “INFINITE PHENOMENAL COSMIC POWER! In an itty bitty living space.” That’s how it works.

It’s all going to bring us around to the arts in the end because art, image, these are all the sacred things that every human being is patterned to do every day. It’s how we make meaning. I think it’s even pre-linguistic. I think it’s what we’ve always done as a species. You know you got those carved homoerectus shells with really amazing carvings on them and all that sort of thing.

When you’ve got a million years of practice behind you as a species, then it becomes supra-rational. It becomes the only way that you can actually make meaning. And the only way that you can get around all of the chunkings and heuristics that we use otherwise to make sense of, you know, navigating the quantum soup. Art allows you to do other things. Art’s amazing like that, but it’s become something else. 

CAVEAT: I’m really struck by the degree to which the art scene out of which I emerged, the art lineage, it plays with this kind of thing, but it has no social strictures around that. It’s very undeveloped in terms of saying, “Okay, here’s what we ought to be doing with it,” as opposed to a sort of experimentation of, “Well, could we do this? Would this work? How would this go?” I don’t know if that’s setting us up for something or if that is in fact the right spirit that we have to be in right now.

TYSON: It’s funny, there’s something about the marketplace, and it’s — I won’t call it a free market because it’s not — but there is a free-market ideology in there which is very dog-eat-dog every man for himself, individualistic. Rampant individualism, and that’s the ideology that drives it to make sure that there are all these people out in the world behaving in these irrational ways, as individual nodes, just pinging around, bumping into each other, doing stuff and reacting. That’s how this free market that’s not free, this series of oligopolies, et cetera, actually works. But art within that as an expression, there’s like this idea that it has to be highly individualistic. Art can’t be made from the civilized center; it can’t be made from the metropolitan center; it can’t be made by the people who want to own it. It can only come from the margins. That’s how these civilizations create margins, center adjacent, adjacent to the center to be able to produce any meaningful art at all. Because you have to be in touch with some kind of reality and you have to be weirdly, have to be fairly liminal to do that.

TYSON: Art, we have, Aboriginal languages, we don’t have a word for it. There’s no word for it because why would they need to be? I don’t think most humans had a word for heart until fairly recently because you don’t have to talk about it. It’s not an abstract; it’s not a field; it’s not a discipline. Art is bound up in your life. Art is how we do. Art’s just how we do. It’s how we be in the sacred every day.

So what happens when you take these massive populations and separate them from the land, separate them from the sacred, separate them from each other. And they’ve got nothing. And you’re mining art from the margins of that, you’re driving people insane all over the place.

CAVEAT: It sort of echoes to me of Burning Man’s own journey. Early on, it became a bunch of artists going out to an absolutely desolate space, you know, a dried-up lakebed in the desert, and playing city there, and doing the art there, and quickly deciding that they wanted this to be a decommodified space.

That of course, it takes money to buy your gear and to get your trucks and to go there. But once you were in that space, there isn’t any commerce that you’ll let that go. And so no art is sold. It’s just made, it’s made communally. And over a period of 20 or 30 years, this group of artistic ne’er-do-wells created a temporary city that became absolutely a center for wealth to seek after, you know. 

So it created through nothing but play and creating art, and temporary play and art at that, this massive center of temporary prosperity and value that now is very difficult to keep decommodified, because the wealth wants in, the wealth wants to grab it. And it really, to me, speaks of this degree to which you can generate this kind of value through art and through decommodified art, even as that has also been one of the more controversial things because it’s harder than for artists to make a living outside of that.

You know, there’s a constant refrain of, “Well, we create art in here. We have trouble making a living as artists out of here. How fair is this?” And yet, clearly, something is working. There is a difference between art that is made in decommodified circumstances and art that is intended for the marketplace.

TYSON: Hey, hang on a sec. I’ve just got to try and tell him to be quiet. They’re not going to listen to me, but I’ll try. 

CAVEAT: I understand.

TYSON: Ah, man, I tell you, I do not belong in this realm where I’m talking to people and artists and people are interested in my work. It’s just. My life’s not set up for that. My life’s full of really screaming kids and really angry people and things smashing around my house all the time. I don’t know how other people do it. I don’t know how people insulate themselves from the mess of being with other people in order to do all these things. I don’t know how they do it.

CAVEAT: I’ve had a long-standing response to people who tell me, “Oh, you’ve lived such an interesting life.” And I say, “Well, I’m a writer. And so you’ve read about the 20% of my life that gets written about, and that’s very interesting, but the rest of my life is me hunched over a computer doing this.”

TYSON: Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. it’s funny. So you talking about Burning Man, and you know and there is that real sort of Silicon Valley kind of culture of this, these exciting spaces where innovation happens, these environments of innovation and group dynamics that produce innovation and these amazing geniuses, you get them in a space with this equipment with this stimulus and amazing things happen. That’s kind of what Burning Man is too. 

It just kind of shows that the infrastructure doesn’t matter anymore. You know, places aren’t just places, and communities aren’t communities. These are things that have utility and they’re ephemeral and they can pop up. I mean, everything’s a fricking pop-up something now or a start-up something. Pop up, startup. Bloody… I don’t know. And then there’s all these integral theorists telling us to clean up, grow up, show up. It’s all these ups. 

But the place isn’t that important, and it’s not structural and you can see it’s pretty much like a metaverse already of the way these economies and our lives and communities are structured now. So place is unimportant. Our home is unimportant. It’s just lightning fast. And increasingly even the borders, sovereign borders of nations aren’t important. It doesn’t matter what country you’re living in. Sovereignty means something else now. And all of those at the cutting edge of that understand, it’s like, Burning Man’s like this little nation and it’s kind of sovereign and unto itself, but also what does that mean? It’s leaky. It goes everywhere. 

It’s so weird. I dreamed about it last night because of you telling me that story yesterday of how it started. And it started with, sounds like, quite rednecky, how it started; people running around with guns. Every colony starts that way, with lots of people running around firing guns, like the worst people, and it’s just wild West and horrific and they’re all killing each other and it’s just rape and murder all over the place. And then once they’ve claimed the space and they’ve settled in, then the gentrification starts, you know, what we call gentrification now, but it’s basically more middle classes and wealthy people then move in, and sort of civilize the space that’s been cleared.

It’s amazing, isn’t it? Just the way you described it to me, it made me laugh so much. How it started out, but then what it became, and the ideals that it encapsulated, and then the spirit that grew out of that, it’s very interesting to me.

CAVEAT: One of the things that made it work as well as it did was that… The guns were very real, the drive-by shooting ranges were very real, but there was also a way in which everyone was playing at it, as opposed to really doing it. Well, there was a ritual at the center of it, to begin with, you know, it was the burning of the Man. They started with burning a Man on Baker Beach in San Francisco, and then when the police shut that down, after three years, they moved it out to the Black Rock Desert. 

So there was always that ritual at the center of it. And then, you know, because they were in the Black Rock Desert, they could do whatever they wanted, and so they brought the guns, they drove fast and, you know, they shot off fireworks and all the things. But they were also playing at it in the same way that they were playing at building a city. And it turned out that the city turned out to be real. They played it into existence. And then the ritual remained. 

Because of that artistic spirit, that playful spirit that was there, something like that could emerge with a — not entirely without bloodshed — it had its first death in 1996, but largely without. And as a result, then people could say, “Okay, something’s working here.” And then the Burning Man’s 10 Principles weren’t codified from a blueprint or on high, they were someone saying, “Okay, when our community is working, what actually is happening?”

TYSON: Well, look, the power of play is amazing. You can move mountains with play. Look at, you had your insurrections last year, the storming of the capital and all that kind of thing. It seems to me that most of what was behind that was people just sort of LARPing, playing. And not just on the day, but you know, in the years building up to that, it’s, people just playing this fantasy role-playing game, and just being able to invent, and it’s, oh, there’s magic in it, and fantasy, and there’s God and the Devil, and there’s white hats and black hats and it’s… it’s a beautiful game. Yeah. 

It’s become one of the most powerful forces on the planet right now, these movements that develop out of almost pretty much just grown-ups playing. It’s worth trying to harness some of that for good. 

CAVEAT: I know a lot of alternative reality game designers who, when Qanon really started picking up, suddenly were terribly fearful about their own art, because they realized this is a thing that we could have created. This utilizes many of the tools that we are trying to do on purpose. And suddenly there was a concern. Is it ethical for us to do this? How do we harness this for good? Because it was this kind of artistic expression in a way.

TYSON: That’s it. These things get away on you. You have to have a stable community where everything that happens, the entire, every sort of movement, every protocol, everything is sort of set up to keep things in balance. 

My community is quite out of balance right now. So where most of my family lives, yeah, there’s a lot of that traditional law that sort of kept things in place for a long time has kind of become disrupted. And particularly over the last couple of years, there’s a lot of disruptions and incursions that sort of come when economies, national economies, get in trouble. Yeah, things have become very unbalanced, very unstable, and you see a lot of things eroding. 

And so what you see emerge there is black magic sorcery like running amok. People are doing things all the time. Once a week, I’ve got another phone call, or a text message, someone sending me a photo of an injury that’s been done to them with a spiritual attack. And these things also, it becomes, it arises in the landscape as well. Things get out of balance and the right ceremonies aren’t being done at the right times, and things happen.

Now when things get out of balance, that’s when everything gets mischievous and weird, and there’s so much of that happening in the world right now, I can’t get my head around it. It’s like these just twirling masses of people in these big live-action role plays doing incredible things.

Art is the only thing that can save us, there. And we’re not doing that. We’re doing something else. And when art is commercial, what can it be but propaganda, you know?

CAVEAT: Yeah. Something that you had said in our last email exchange about the paragraph you wrote that we opened this with is that you wanted to take this away from the priests and give it to more people. Is that one way out of this mess?

TYSON: That’s just what I wanted to ask you. How do we do that? I don’t know. If I knew how to do that, I wouldn’t be talking to you, I’d be off doing it. I have no idea. How do we take art back in a way from this priestly class? 

We have it too, you know. We have an Indigenous middle-class now. And, I didn’t know, I just sort of was just doing the things that I normally do. And then someone said it was art. It’s just the things that I do all the time. So someone grabbed a bit of that and put it in an exhibition, and suddenly I find out that it’s a whole different kind of community. It’s very cutthroat. There’s all a lot of competition for the white gaze in the Aboriginal middle class in Australia, particularly in the arts community. It’s cutthroat competition for a number of grants and special opportunities and fellowships and residencies and all that kind of thing. There’s only a handful of those for Aboriginal people. So you find out pretty quick, you’re not bloody welcome, and you’d better not be doing art. I’m like, “That’s all right. It doesn’t have to be in the gallery or anything, but can I just keep doing my stuff?” It’s full on.

CAVEAT: That is in many ways something that I think Burning Man has done very well. I can only speak to this context, but there’s an amazing experience that happens when, first of all, you get people outside of not only their comfort zone figuratively but quite literally, when you put them into a difficult environment.

And then because it’s decommodified — with the exception of ice purchases, which are seen as essential to people’s survival, and for a long time coffee because that was seen as a human right — there’s nothing to purchase. So you can’t win through commercialism; you can’t win through this sort of money, power, status game that people are playing. 

And then people if they stay there long enough because it’s remote enough and hard enough to get in and out of, there are few day-trippers, you can do anything. There’s no program set out. You don’t have to do this on Monday and this on Wednesday, it’s just full of other people who are following their own idiosyncratic visions of what they want to do.  

And in that environment, people often have the experiences of what I call applied existentialism, where they suddenly have to ask themselves, “If I can’t really chase after money or status or power, what do I actually want to do with my time?” A lot of people actually have a kind of a freak-out reaction. It’s very difficult for them. And then at some point, they hit a kind of intrinsic motivation where they finally say, “Well, I can’t win. If I can’t do anything then I guess this is how I want to spend my time.” And that changes everything. 

TYSON: Wow.

CAVEAT: And usually what they end up wanting to do, aside from really weird idiosyncratic stuff that’s just in their head like it is for all of us, usually what they end up wanting to do after a while, is find community and create art.

And everything sort of builds off of that. And that has a profoundly transformative experience. I think, for all the effort to be commodified to take commerce out of art is again very controversial for people who want to make a living doing art. And I understand that frustration. But you know, once that is off the table, you’re doing it for yourself; you’re doing it for your intrinsic motivated reasons, and that starts to change everything. That can have a cascading effect on people. That’s one that I think people who are at the center of the post-industrial digital consumer capitalism 21st century are deeply hungry for. I think in so many ways they’re cut off from their own intrinsic motivations.

TYSON: I want to ask you about recidivism rates which I imagine would be 100%, but I’m thinking more in terms of time. How long does it take a person, once they return to a world of rivalry and competition, how long does it take them before they’re completely back on the old track again?

CAVEAT: I don’t have a statistical answer for you. 

TYSON: A sense. How long does it take you? 

CAVEAT: Oh Lord. Well, I’m one of the people whose life has been fundamentally changed by this. And so while it’s never the way that it is on the playa, out in what we call the default world, it has fundamentally changed how I relate to a whole lot of what I do. Honestly, I was never a person who was any good in communities at all. I never thought I could be in communities.

And then, first, at Burning Man, I encountered our principle and tradition of giving gifts (which I think is far better understood by Indigenous peoples) that the gift is not just the tchotchke that you give, it’s actually the experience that comes with something. Actually, when you’re in a decommodified environment, it gets more and more potent, the more it actually means to the person you’re giving it, to the person receiving it. This was mind-blowing for me. I had never understood any of this.

First I saw it and I went, “Oh, I want to have some part of this.” And then I spent years learning how to do that. And that became a process of increasingly diving into my art and taking it in a new direction.

How do I give a gift? I can write something. How do I write something that in this environment will be meaningful to the person who’s receiving it? That question really transformed the way in which my writing engages people, and suddenly I had a whole series of experimental art projects that really engaged people in a way that I’d never imagined that I could before. Once I could give people these kinds of gifts that started to connect me to community in a way that I never imagined I could be. And that has changed my life. 

Some people come and never go back, and that’s fine. You know, we don’t proselytize at them, you know. But a lot of people have their own journey like that. They encounter something, they realize that something else was possible. That’s really the trick: the realization that, wait a minute, it doesn’t have to be the way I thought it had to be. There are other ways, and maybe I like those better. And when you go back to the rest of your life, you are struggling with that.

TYSON: Yeah. You have to have to be able to apply what you’ve learned there into a world that’s driven by command and control.

So your billionaire will go along and they might see this amazing interconnected set of relations. And then they go back home and they feel great, and it’s this dark side light side thing. Everybody thinks that interconnectedness and relatedness must be the light, must be the good magic. But, you know, it has bad applications, too.

CAVEAT: Absolutely. I could point you at well-off entrepreneurs who have genuinely been changed in a way that I would regard as positive by Burning Man, but I’m skeptical that it happens to the extent that we would like to think it does precisely because when the really rich go to Black Rock City, they tend to isolate themselves in it. They tend to create their little, we call them plug-and-play camps. They have their parties there, but only go out in sort of limited groups. They sort of sightsee, and then they go back to their really comfortable ritzy areas. People are worried that, oh, they’re ruining Burning Man. Look, they exist, they’re ruining it. No, they’re not. They’re not doing it because they’re irrelevant. They’re barely a part of any of this thing that we have built. That’s also why I think it has less of an effect on them because they’re not really connecting…

TYSON: They’re not really there.

CAVEAT: So I think that is a problem. Clearly, they’re impressed, but are they really benefiting from it in the way that we would hope? I think often not as much as we would like. 

TYSON: It’s been amazing talking to you about this. I have a completely different picture of Burning Man now in my head. I’m a bit intrigued and I kind of want to come and have a look. Two days ago there’s no way, no force on earth could have dragged me into that place. I’d have to check in with those elders there, from that place first, but otherwise, I tell you, I’d definitely check it out next time around. It sounds really interesting. I’m going to get totally kicked out of the decolonial justice league for saying that, but… 

Nobody likes you over from that side of the fence. I guess you’re an easy target, though. Yeah. And it’s kinda, it’s fucking low-hanging fruit.

CAVEAT: We pull in some people who, you know, are truly terrible. That’s the downside of Radical Inclusion. There’s a moment in my new book where I talk about how I want to try to describe the role of the artist in this community, and the term that I really want to use is “art Shaman” because I think it speaks to it so perfectly. But I’m not willing to do that, not only because of the colonial implications, but because it will just attract all the wrong white people. It’s going to attract all the white people who say “Oh, I have an energy workshop.” and “Look, I’m a shaman and oh, can I realign your chakras?”

TYSON: It’s your next book. Your next book should just be like “The Wrong White People: An Anatomy of What Ruins Everything.” 

CAVEAT: That is good, actually.

TYSON: It’s true that they ruin everything. And I know there’s too many of us over here who like will just… Here’s that heuristic again, that chunking where we’ll just go, “Oh, white people are terr… white people do this,” No, no, the wrong white people. You don’t even need very many of them. And it’s not just white people. It’s everybody. Everybody’s done the workshop since 2016. Everybody’s done it. It’s in my community. It’s in my family. You see it everywhere: absolute narcissistic abuse and control going on the whole time, and just these 5D chess attacks of just insanity going on all over the place.

That’s usually the reason for my recidivism rate after a life-changing experience. It’s usually only two weeks because the narcissists that you are in relation to will just smell it on you. They’ll see you glowing. They’ll see you standing straight and tall and just so vital and happy, and they’re just, “Oh, I’m going to have to wreck that.” They’ll rip your ride down real fast. They got lots of tricks. I can’t figure it out. I can never unravel it.

CAVEAT: it’s a practiced skill. I think, you know, they put the time in, they get good at it.

TYSON: Yeah. Well, that’s a meritocracy, isn’t it?

CAVEAT: Narcissism is a meritocracy. That’s genius. That’s absolute genius. There’s actually a saying that Burning Man culture has, which is “Don’t marry your parakeet.” People come to Burning Man. They have life-changing experiences, they go home and suddenly they want to change everything. “Don’t marry your parakeet” means if you want to do something like that, wait a month, wait a month and see. Give it a little time.

TYSON: A cool-off period.

CAVEAT: Yeah. The experience of the people who I know have been profoundly changed by this, it’s not a one and done, that’s sort of what we were talking about earlier about there being no shortcuts. That’s where I see the success cases. They’re not like, “Okay, I’m different now. I’m all better.” It’s, you know, “Okay there’s something I’m going to work on here that I want to really get good at, and that is going to take ongoing effort, so I’m going to start putting the time in.”

One of the ways in which people I think internalize this is when they start to see that there is something that they can get a sense of mastery over, not in that, “I control it” way, but “I get really good at this” way.

One of the ways in which we keep the event, a Leave No Trace event, is that there are hundreds, thousands of volunteers who, when it’s all over, stay late in the desert and comb it for small pieces of trash — we call it MOOP, Matter Out Of Place. They’ll spend days there, weeks there, some of them a full month, doing that. 

They take incredible pride in being good at this. At some point, it went from being a chore of, “Okay, I have to clean up my room,” to “Look how well I can do this.” And that combination of esprit de corps and a sense of internal achievement is really profound for that.

There’s a moment that is sort of an aha moment where when people are in Black Rock City or at a Burning Man event, and they see something weird and amazing that they sort of understand, and then they think, “We could do that, and I could help make that better. I have an idea.” That’s the aha moment. When you’re not just a spectator of, “Oh, that’s so amazing,” but “Oh wait, I have something that I could offer this if I worked at it,” and that’s when they’re coming back, this is going to change their life.

TYSON: Has this become a bit of a thing? There’s a lot of festivals now that kind of like that? Like in Australia, we have they call them bush doofs. I don’t know if you’ve heard that term before. “Doof,” I think that’s supposed to be like the sound of the beat because they have DJs and that, you know, doof, doof, doof, so you bush doof. It’s usually out of a natural setting. These people tend to go around kind of like gypsies from one bush doof to the next, so that’s kind of where they live is just in these temporary things that only go for a few days. And then they move on to the next one. And I’ve met people, I’ve only been to one of these things because I was supposed to, I had to go and speak at one of them, and I hung around. I talked to everybody. I was like, “What’s going on here?” Some of them, they just go around all around the world. They just basically live at these things, they go from one to the next. So there’s a circuit. 

CAVEAT: There are a couple of different things happening here. One of which is that it’s its own thing completely independent of Burning Man. There were raves that existed that had nothing to do with us, and that’s its own circuit. Yeah, DJ culture is very much an ascendant thing. 

TYSON: That hasn’t morphed with this other thing?

CAVEAT: No, it has. There’ve been cultural exchanges. There’ve also been a lot of Burning Man imitations. People have tried to do that all over the world. And usually, to me, they tend to epitomize the attempt to do this as a shortcut, because of course the first thing they want to bring back in is money. “Well, of course, there’ll be vending.”

TYSON: Yeah. They didn’t let it evolve. It didn’t emerge and it has to be emergent in a place. It has to be its own thing.

CAVEAT: There are no stages at Burning Man, if you want to have a stage with an act, you bring the materials in, you build it yourself. That’s fine, but there’s no, like the five stages where we have a different activity each night, that doesn’t exist. Anything like that is participant created. And so actually there are hundreds of things like that over the week, but they’re all, all very much because people put in the time and effort. And that’s the point is that you have all the choices you want to make. You can do that or whatever else.

These imitation events tend to be a lot more focused on, “Well, okay, and you know, Monday night we’ll be doing this…” And so that’s part of it. 

And then they also tend to have much more explicitly spiritual (spiritual quote-unquote) ideas. Burning Man has 10 Principles that we follow because we discovered that when we do what makes this thing work. We don’t ask anyone to believe in any particular version or vision of reality. Your spirituality is your own. We’re creating this environment. Come and find yourself in it. So there are all these imitations that generally don’t go anywhere. Some of the better ones have ongoing existence and some people like them, and sure. 

Another thing that happens is that Burning Man actually has official regional events around the world. People want to do this locally where they live. And that is great. The notion that you can only do this in the Black Rock Desert is nonsense. So if people say “We want to create something like what you do in our location,” then great, please do that. If you want it to be an official Burning Man event, then it has to follow these guidelines: No commerce, Leave No Trace, that sort of thing. Within that basic structure, yes, we will absolutely help you out. We’ll connect you with other Regionals.

TYSON: Does it run on volunteers, and if so, is that all rostered and organized and recruited. Or is it sort of more organic? 

CAVEAT: They tend to be largely, if not exclusively, volunteer-run. Most of them are almost entirely run by volunteers. There are very few paid staff. And in fact, many of them officially say, “We don’t want to do paid staff.” The Black Rock City event in Nevada that has paid staff, absolutely. It has an organization that runs it, but it’s also largely volunteer-powered. You take away the volunteers, it doesn’t happen. And in fact, you take away the volunteers and it wouldn’t be itself at all.

Most of the Regional Events, they’re not told how to do this, it has to emerge from the community in terms of, what is going to work here, for you guys. We provide a level of expertise. We offer conferences. Some of our volunteers can help you guys out. We’ll connect you with people. 

TYSON: It seems like a pretty interesting natural experiment to run to explore every aspect of the problem of: if your research question was focusing on capital, like where people store their capital long-term is in land art, precious metals. If you’re asking a research question of, “how might that be undone as the foundation of a society, of a global economy, of a global culture?” That’s what underpins everything, this liberalism sort of pattern — how might just those basic, that keystone part of the land and art as capital, for example, how might one begin to move enough people away from being complicit with that and playing that game to actually have something viable begin and grow?

CAVEAT: Burning Man is a social capital system to an extreme extent, one that we’ve not seen, I think, in a lot of other large places in the West, at least in America. 

When people talk about how expensive it has become to go to Burning Man and do these things, what they almost always miss is: that’s true if you are a cold outsider to the community. At that point, you know, yes, you’ll have all these expenses, it’s going to be difficult. 

If you’re connected to your local Burners or you’ve been going to the desert for a while, then all kinds of doors open up for you because people want you there. And there’s a community that does this. If people have a good experience because you’re there or you bring things and people see you as helpful, then, oh yeah, heaven and earth can be moved to make that happen. It’s something that is really not well understood by people who are looking in from the outside. It’s one of the most important elements of how this has developed. 

TYSON: So somewhere in there is the answer of how do you take art away from the priestly class because you have to manage the value of these things, maintain the value of art and artworks and the sort of ecosystem that’s out there. It has to be maintained. It has to be a bit of a caste system. Art must be in order to hold its price and even increase its price. That price is always based in this economic system on limitability and excludability. This piece is rare, and, you know, how many people are excluded from enjoying this? That’s what makes it valuable is whether or not people can be excluded from it.

And that’s the thing, the magic trick, that illusion that’s been pulled over the entire planet. So if we could figure that out with art, how to make art something else that is not a store of capital. Art of course always is valuable. I’m not sure it’s supposed to store value as an abstract kind of thing.

It should be disposable. I guess that’s what’s good about the ephemeral nature of Burning Man. Sorry, man. I had to finish that thought as it worked its way up.

CAVEAT: It’s one of the major advantages, it turns out. I certainly have my own sort of special items that I have that have historical value for me because of how I was given them or who, or what have you. But yeah, I find art is at its most potent and most effective when it is a limited experience and one that you give — often even to strangers. Some of the most potent experiences I’ve had giving my art to people when it’s really the magic has happened, right, the synchronicity has come upon us. We were having the experience with touching someone in ways that they did not… So they’re complete strangers, they have no idea what’s going to happen or who I was like, “Hey, can I give you a gift? You seem like you need this.” I think the ephemeral nature of it, I think the giving away of it, I think the connection to intrinsic motivation

TYSON: That allows it to not be about the object. When I teach young fellows how to carve, I do live woodcarving with all the traditional stuff, do that alongside them and I’ll be making, and they’re watching me, so I’m demonstrating and then they join in and start making their own thing and I’ll finish up something. I’ll make sure it’s something just beautiful. And then it’s just perfect, I’m hand smoothing. It might take me 12 hours to make it or something, and the final part of the lesson there is I throw that on the fire. The noise that comes out of these people: “Aaaagh, what are you doing?” That’s not where it is. The thing that you’re holding in your hand now, that’s not what you’re taking away from this. You’re taking away the knowledge of how to make that you carry that with you because you can make that whenever you want.

And I keep waiting for that one young man who is going to throw his on as well. They never do. It’s always like Lord Of the Rings. “Throw it in… No, it’s my precious.” People like their preciouses.

CAVEAT: There’s an artist who I’ve worked with in the past, who said “The artifact is not the art. The artifact is residual proof that art happened.

TYSON: That’s it right there. Where does it all end up? It’s just the burnt man. What will be the residual traces that Burning Man will leave in the world?

CAVEAT: We’ll find out. I have a sense of what we want it to be. To the extent that we are a global community, I think that’s one of the really interesting things about it. 

I no longer feel like the really interesting innovations are coming out of San Francisco. I think they are coming out in our hinterlands. It is people who are trying to do this in places of the world where, you know, we never imagined there would be Burners until they suddenly contacted us and said, “Hey, we want to be connected.” They’re the ones who are finding the interesting next steps.

The center is no longer as relevant as it once was. And I think that’s actually very exciting.

TYSON: Sweet. Art makes transformations, I suppose, in places and with people.

CAVEAT: It makes it possible. 

TYSON: Yeah. I think that event does that. 

CAVEAT: This has been such a pleasure.

TYSON: I’ve just loved it. You’ve just been amazingly patient with me, with my brain being all over the place. I’m sure you’ll do some kind of magic editing there.

CAVEAT: If you are in fact ever interested in coming out to the Black Rock Desert for Burning Man or connecting with some of the Burning Man events closer to your neck of the woods, I’d be delighted to facilitate that. 

TYSON: That’d be great. I imagine when I’m about 90 or something.

CAVEAT: In theory, we’ll still be around. If it ever comes up I’d be delighted to facilitate.

TYSON: That’d be awesome. Thank you so much, brother.

CAVEAT: I enjoyed this so much.

TYSON: Me too. It’s just preaching to the choir though, aren’t we? Like each other. That’s always the worst conversations. They’re great for us, but like horrible for everyone else to try and listen to it. It’s like, oh my God. Yeah, it’s just been awesome. 

CAVEAT: All right. 

STUART: All right. Thanks, everybody for listening. Burning Man LIVE is, was, and until further notice shall always henceforth be a production of the Philosophical Center of the completely, thoroughly, 100% dyed in the wool non-profit Burning Man Project, made possible by generous listeners like you, who every once in a while pop a few bucks into the finely crafted artisanal begging bowl that we like to call donate.burningman.org.

I’m Stuart Mangrum. Thanks to everyone who made this show possible, but especially to my closest collaborators: producer Andie Grace, Technical producer, and Story Editor Michael Vav. Thanks to kBot for voicing the intro this time around. Thanks to Shannon Ongaro and Molly Rose for some qualitative consultation. Oh, and thanks, Larry.


more