(We’re basing this discussion on Terry Eagleton’s “Culture and the Death of God.” Read all the book club entries)
To everybody who’s apologized for falling behind on Book Club: I’ve fallen behind too, so let’s make it official. Book Club moves slowly, and nobody has to be embarrassed. A chapter a week was just not going to happen.
But we’re making progress!
Okay … here we go …
Today we’re going to talk about money and economics.
If Burning Man, as I’ve argued, has many of the attributes and contradictions if Romanticism, there’s one more that should be noted.
Here’s Eagleton’s description:
“If the movement is divided against itself, it is largely because it is both a product of middle-class society and a protest against it. Its flamboyant individualism is among other things an idealized version of the entrepreneur; yet it is also a rebuke to the faceless civilization he is busy fashioning, one in which men and women are reduced to so many cogs and ciphers. Spiritual individualism is to be prized, but its more possessive variety must be countered by some more corporate forms of existence, whether in the form of Nature, Geist, art, culture, world-spirit, political love, medieval guilds, ancient Greece, utopian communities or the Kantian consensus of taste.”
There is it – and Burning Man has been living that contradiction for decades. Burning Man as we know it could only exist in a world of capitalist excess, and it is easiest to participate in by those who are living high on that excess. Can there be any real argument on these points? Yet Burning Man’s values explicitly call for us to undermine the motives and impacts of these same systems of excess. Burning Man is like the landlord who raises the rent while voting for public ownership of buildings.