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June 01, 2005



So...ahem...will you be joining leblanc and I in the desert this summer for a little more...ahem...burning?


Hey Lily!
I don't think I'll make it to the desert this summer - but I'll be burning somewhere that weekend. I will make it there some day, just have to get my schedule worked differently than it is now, to have that kind of time off to travel and be there, and decompress afterwards! I'll be with you in spirit though!


You already are!


This just begs for a long, rambling answer addressing all the interesting points you're bringing up, but if I had the time to do long rambling posts I would write on my blog, and I don't because I don't.

Firstly, I know (or believe I know) how little your current environment agrees with your overall outlook on life and I am supremely happy to see that you seem to have found a way to address that discrepancy through those pockets on the flip side. I am myself toying with the idea of visiting a similar kind of pocket, xplore 05, in a few weeks but am unsure if I can find the time and opportunity.

But, and yes there is a but, or several in fact:
For one thing, you were part of a small, self-selected group of like-minded people, which is a major reason for why this worked as swimmingly as it did.

Related but different: there is evidence (and it is my firm belief) that the human sociological and psychological makeup is geared towards communities of no more than a couple hundred or thousand people, max. Most of the bloody, stupid, irritating, and sometimes even harmful rules of society are there to mediate the damage done by violating that limit.

Thirdly, as much as I like those pockets of freedom, I realize that they are basically a cop-out because a) people usually go back to their "normal" lives at the end of such events, b) those pockets are overwhelmingly not self-sustaining because people bring all kinds of stuff from the evil outside world to sustain them, c) those pockets could not possibly be self-sustaining on a large scale. Or, as Joshua wrote so eloquently: "if everyone currently living on the planet lived in a small cabin with a wood-burning stove, the globe would be uniformly covered in cabins and there wouldn't be a tree left standing."

So, I think that ultimately the right way would be not to flee to such pockets, but to make the rest of the world more like them as much as possible.

That said, I'm also envious as hell! ;-)


Gudy - I could refute much of what you have said, but that's not the point. I do want to say, I'm tired of trying to make the rest of the world be the way I think it can and should be. So I will flee this world every chance I get. I've given up hope on this world being anything other than what it is, and I think it will become a much harsher place to live in the years to come.

The way we lived for 5 days is sustainable - but not in this society. And there are people who have found ways to live this way, all the time, not just in small pockets. This movement is growing, and who knows, maybe it will be the one that survives when society as we know it comes crashing down. Because our current society is not sustainable either.

I looked at the link you provided, and it is a different kind of pocket - out of the mainstream yes, but different than what I have found.

I take exception with the word "cop-out". It was anything but a cop-out to participate in building a community that values inclusivity, respect, self-reliance, and giving. And everytime one of these communities comes to life, it changes the world, a little bit. A few more people bring this way of life into the world.

I hope you enjoy the pockets you find that you need!


Gah, it seems that I'm not at my communicatively best right now. Heck, *I* could refute much of what I wrote above because it is not what I had actually meant to write. So, firstly, I'm sorry about being *much* harsher than I intended to be. And secondly, let me try again in the hopes that things may be clearer this time around:

Start with "cop-out" - no it's not, and I regretted that word almost as soon as I hit "Post". What those pockets are is highly advanced escapism, and you acknowledge as much. This is not bad in and of itself, but it *is* a significant change away from the Gale I know, who someone here once described as wanting to save the last starfish on a beach even on the last day of our planet.

The way you lived those five days may very well be sustainable, but not for 6 billion people on this planet - the numbers just don't work out (but then, as you point out, the same can be said about our current way of life). BUT, should this society come crashing down - and I grant you that it quite possibly may - this movement is certainly better suited for survival than the average guy. OTOH, a catastrophic failure of our society may quite possibly cost a few billion human lives, which is exactly what will make that style of living sustainable again *on a large scale*.

Yes, my kind of pocket is different from yours. But then, I'm not ready to flee society wholesale, so I'll try to become part of a group that tries to subvert a part of it that is important to me personally (here: the way we deal with lust, sensuality, and sexuality) so that a) the whole becomes more bearable for us (and I'm afraid we'll need every bit of help in this respect in the coming decades) and perhaps b) those changes radiate out to other areas of life and other people around us.

Yes, I'm aware that this may not work, or if it does, work too slowly to have an effect before it's too late. But I hope that we, too, may change the world, or a small part of it, a little bit. And may each of us find happiness on their way.


thanks for allowing me to vicariously escape this current mundane work pocket through your post...

just. incredible. and fascinating to even consider this experience.

is there anything like this happening in or around southern california?



Melina - There are lots and lots of events like the one the Gale attended in LA, OC and San Diego. If you go to Burningman.com you can access the regional groups and it will give you more info. There is also tribe.net that lists events in So.Cal as well....and then of course THE burn occurs in Nevada this summer. :)


Hi Gudy - thanks for clarifying your thoughts. I now very much agree with what you are saying. And, I didn't mean to suggest that either of our "pockets" are more valuable - just different, and the burn communities are very widespread and growing, as Lily points out to Melina, with an established set of ethics which create the environment I experienced.

I am aware that my loss of hope and willingness to work on changing this world is a radical departure from before. And it has been painful. But living in this country, and this location specifically - I do feel hopeless and helpless in bringing about the kind of world I want to live in. I believe we are headed for an all out war of culture and freedom - some predict an armed civil war is in our not-so-distant future as we are becoming a police state and our civil rights are being taken away. And in some ways, I'm choosing the side I will support and fight for and becoming a part of it. I am no longer willing to spend my energy trying to change the masses that will not change. I will live my life the way I want the world to be - and in so doing, like you said, hope that it adds to the growth of this mindset as we show that this IS possible, even on a large scale.

It is interesting that you mention a wide-scale decrease in the population - because there are many who believe that is exactly what the neo-cons are hoping for, and may try to bring about, through more wars, provocation of nuclear attacks, and the use of biological warfare on our own land. Because everyone seems to agree that the current world population is not conducive for the kind of control they want. I know who I want to be in community with, if and when these worst-case scenarios ever take place.

One of the things I wanted to communicate, and didn't do so well - is that every time these communities come together, we prove the nay-sayers wrong - those who say people can't live together in this radical environment of personal freedom. In our current society, they are right - but, it is in our human nature to live together peacefully, even in the midst of extreme diversity, if people would choose to do so. And maybe, that is what I hope to do, to save that last starfish on the last day of our planet - model a way of life that brings hope to others.

Melina - Lily is right, out where you are, there are tons of ways to get involved in these communities. Let me know if you need help finding them. It is a life-changing experience to attend a burn, and I'm encouraging my kids to go to one, as soon as they are 18 and can take responsiility for themselves. I am still thinking through all that this means for me and my life. But I encourage you to go if you have the least interest in changing your life.

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