Two Flames: The Story of Green Man 2007

By Doctress Neutopia

 

 

Burning Man's founder, Larry Harvey, picked the theme for the annual 2007 festival as “Green Man,” which meant the ecological man. Artwork on the playa was designed to reflect the theme, building a world which lives in harmony with nature.

Actor and retired lawyer, Paul Addis, has been charged with a felony for lighting Burning Man's “Green Man” effigy on fire before the official scheduled time of its burn, September 1st.  Instead, he chose to light it to coincide with a rare total lunar eclipse August 28th at 3:00 am. Lighting the fire to coincide with the lunar eclipse, defied patriarchal time, and moved us toward recovering our sacred alignment with the cosmos.

So, what were the reasons why Addis torched the Man? According at Wired interview he said, “The celebration of individual expression and community-building at the core of Burning Man has been lost in recent years as the event has become too "suburban." A spontaneous act like prematurely burning the Man was an attempt to recapture some of the original spirit of the event.”

By lighting the fire, Addis became the personification of Green Man. Burning the effigy during the eclipse took our collective memory back in time to the Neolithic era when the great festivals at architectural monuments such as Avebury, Stonehenge , and Newgrange were held in celebration of cosmic events such as lunar eclipses.

The defiant premature burning of the Green Man reminds me of the story of Saint Patrick. He realized that he would not be able to change the chiefdom system of Ireland by converting one person at a time to Christianity. He needed to make a big statement that would broadcast news about his Christian god, an action that would be talked about around the country long after his action occurred.

During the great annual festival on the Hill of Tara, Ireland 's spiritual and political center, the custom was for the king to light the paschal fire. Everyone in the valley was informed not to light a fire for the night until the king lit the festival's bonfire. The fire symbolized his power and chiefdom.

Patrick went to the Hill of Slane, a hilltop in view of Tara, and gathered wood to light a huge bonfire. Before the king could light the huge paschal fire, which could be seen for miles around, Patrick lit his fire defying the king's authority. Immediately, the king ordered his army to ride with him to the Hill of Slane to fight the army that was responsible for disobeying his word. When he arrived, he found one man, Patrick, who said he lit the fire to tell the world about the light of the love of God within him. The king was so impressed by his bravery, that instead of killing Patrick, he converted to Christianity.

So, you can see that I am in support of Addis' brave action. Setting the effigy on fire before Larry Harvey lit the match challenged his authority. Addis torch was the shamanic art of shifting energies. Perhaps Addis' performance has stirred up the Burning Man ashes so much so that something new and more meaningful has a chance to grow.

Responding to his unscheduled burn, bloggers voiced complaints similar to Addis in that the annual celebration has lost touch with radical self-expression and its spontaneous, subversive roots.

I can testify to the above sentiments because I was suppressed by the Burning Man establishment. In 2001, after attending Burning Man, I wrote a short story about my journey through the Nevada Test Site to Burning Man which ended on September 11, 2001. The theme of Burning Man that year was “The Ages of Man,” so my piece was an ecofeminist look at the Burning Man project. 

After posting the story to my web site, I sent the link to the Burning Man editor, so that she could add it on the Burning Man web site page designed especially for stories that participants had written. But my link never appeared on their site. After sending numerous emails to the editor, it became apparent that my story was being actively ignored or censored by the Burning Man establishment.

My essay, and now, my campaign, is about moving the Burning Man festival from northern Nevada 's Black Rock desert south to the Nevada Test Site. The move is not only a symbolic protest against the immortal and stupid war in Iraq, and the commercial culture that supports it, but a protest for changing the direction and funding of the military industrial establishment away from war and armament production toward building a prototype arcology, an architectural theory developed by architect Paolo Soleri, one of the experts in Leonardo DiCaprio's 11 th Hour.

In a world that is heating up because of global warming, our only defense is to restructure civilization by building a network of car-free, toxic free, organic, high-tech/high touch, cradle to cradle industrial arcologies. If artists don't demand our money to be redirected so that we can build a truly creative, awe-inspiring society, who will?

Artists of the world need to come together to protest for the right to use our money and our state land to build 21 st century arcologies. To begin this process, what better place to start than by “Burning the Man” across from the Nevada Test Site where the biggest and baddest burns have been conducted?  Isn't it time to Burn the Man at a place where the US government has wasted billions of dollars developing weapons of mass destruction, money that could have gone to assure our species' long-term survival by building sustainable arcologies on Earth and in Outer Space? What greater symbol of peace and love could there be than to take Black Rock City with its population of 40,000 people, to the Gates of Hell—the Nevada Test Site—and demand our money be re-channeled in a way that funds building a new world in an image of paradise?

So, it is time for the Burning Man organization to evolve to the next level of development. To do this takes the superpower of the people under the guidance of the “creative minority.” By overthrowing the US corporate military regime and replacing it with a vision of development that builds a model that fuses together sustainable city design (arcology) and radical creativity (Burning Man culture) there is a chance that artists could liberate the world.

Bringing Burning Man back to its subversive roots could cause shock waves throughout the world media. Burning Man could truly become a social movement that Harvey dreams about fusing art and politics for the transformation and salvation of humanity. To go up against the global corporate military regime, we need to fight fire with fire, symbol with symbol, religion with religion.

But, alas, as in the real world, the Burning Man staff didn't take time out to reflect and understand the significance of Addis' wise action. Instead, they called it a selfish publicity stunt. They rebuilt the Man so that the Saturday night's “Burn” could go on as scheduled.  It seems their Green Man effigy was only “green washing.” Rebuilding it to re-burn it only caused more CO2 to be cast into our dying atmosphere and more forests were destroyed to provide more wood for the “ Green Man. ” Addis writes,Burning Man should stop the disingenuous Green Man immediately. It's all a lie. If you want to know how much a of a total lie it is, run a Google satellite photo of Burning Man right now and count the number of RVs there. And they're telling me it's an environmental movement? Bullshit. There are people sucking gas up there faster than they are passing it.”

Had Harvey, Burning Man's prophet, actually given up on community building and conflict resolution, and gone for profits as Addis claims? Unlike the tale of St. Patrick, I'm not suggesting that Harvey convert to Christianity, but instead, I'm asking him to find reverence for the sacred Earth, Gaia. Christianity devised the unnatural time system that is not aligned to stellar events which enslaves the world now. It is the Christian judicial system that puts Gaia loving, green environmental activists in prison for acting to save the global ecology. It is the system that arrested Addis and charged him with a 3,000 dollar bail.

What I am asking of Harvey is to rekindle his spontaneous, revolutionary, evolutionary, or lovolutionary roots within him, and rebel with all his heart and soul against the nuclear fire that could cause all of us to become burning people. I'm asking him to embrace the green Goddess within him and move on with the next phase of Black Rock City 's development, making it a sustainable model of a utopian arcology on Earth.

It's time for Harvey to follow the themes of the past two Burning Man festivals: the Green Man and the Utopian Man by finding the way to actualize them. If art can't be manifested into daily life, then the festival is phony. If Burning Man doesn't have a great social purpose for the good of the planet, it is nothing more than a hedonistic, nihilist week of superficial pleasure for the few who can afford the price of the ticket. For the Burning Man staff, the festival then becomes a ten million dollar a year money-making machine for them to live on for the rest of the year as Earth slowly suffocates.

We can transform Burning Man if we allow the royal art of city making to be liberated. By allowing the best and most noble ideas to lead the event, we can find a way to bring an end to nuclear terrorism by rebuilding the world using designs that unite sacred arcologies and radical self-expression.

Can you imagine the mass ecstasy and profound celebration of 40,000 people Burning the Man—the Nuclear Man—across from the Nevada Test Site? What a massgasm! The thought makes my mind radiate with supreme joy! It's fighting the ignorance of poison fire with the intelligence of sacred fire!

Addis stated that he torched the Man as a “reality check.” It's time for a Larry Harvey to cash that reality check, not bounce it.

 

 
 



 
 
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