Burning Man 2017: Radical Ritual

“We are among the first peoples in human history who do not broadly inherit religious identity as a given, a matter of kin and tribe, like hair color and hometown. But the very fluidity of this—the possibility of choice that arises, the ability to craft and discern one’s own spiritual bearings—is not leading to the decline of spiritual life but its revival.”
―Krista Tippet

Beyond the dogmas, creeds, and metaphysical ideas of religion, there is immediate experience. It is from this primal world that living faith arises. In 2017, we will invite participants to create interactive rites, ritual processions, elaborate images, shrines, icons, temples, and visions. Our theme will occupy the ambiguous ground that lies between reverence and ridicule, faith and belief, the absurd and the stunningly sublime. The human urge to make events, objects, actions, and personalities sacred is protean. It can fix on and inhabit anyone or anything. This year our art theme will release this spirit in the Black Rock Desert.

In Search of the Sacred

“There is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the consecrated spot cannot be formally distinguished from the playground. The arena, the card table, the magic circle… all are in form and function playgrounds, i.e. forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.”
— Johan Huizinga

Sacred things appear to come from some profoundly other place that is beyond the bounds of space and time. It is as if a window is thrown open on another world that is more real than real. This absolute uniqueness of all sacred things releases powerful emotions: joy, awe, wonder, dread, and, in its most transcendent form, pure exaltation. The sacred speaks to us of vastness and of union with a power larger than our conscious selves. The sacred gives us access, it is felt, to greater being.

This year’s theme is an attempt to reinvent ritual in our post post-modern world. For this purpose, we will disregard assertions of belief and concentrate instead on the immediate experience of play. Beliefs contain, define, and limit meaning. They can reduce truth to a rational commodity. But play can free us to envision truths of which we have no proof or warrant. Such play, as we conceive it, breaks down the distinction that divides belief from make-believe. Whole-hearted and creative play induces self-surrender to experience that is beyond the scope of reasoned thought.

Temple on a Plain

“As one longtime participant wrote, ‘Burning Man employs ritual, but it is ritual removed from the context of theology. Unhindered by dogma, ritual becomes a vessel that can be filled with direct experience.”
―Lee Gilmore, Fires of the Heart

2017-final-work-man-web-image

From the playful invitation to make angels in the dust that greets participants who enter Black Rock City, to the Temple Burn that signals its demise, Burning Man is permeated with rituals. These rites speak of soulful need; the desire to belong to a place, to belong to a time, to belong to one another, and to belong to something that is greater than ourselves, even in the midst of impermanence. Throughout all ages temples have been built in order to induce these feelings.

When workers of the DPW, our Department of Public Works, arrive in the Black Rock Desert, their first task is to locate the exact position of the Burning Man, for it is from this very spot that our entire city is surveyed. Then a gilded metal stake is pounded in the ground, and over many years this action has evolved into a ritual. Each member of the crew takes up a hammer, and with a single stroke, imparts an ounce of energy that is confluent with their common effort; in some sense they’ve created Burning Man.

This year we will erect a temple that will commemorate the Golden Spike. Circles surrounding circles will converge immediately beneath the Man. We will mark this space with an omphalos, a sculpture that will represent the navel of our world, its central hub and gathering place. Passing through the spine of Burning Man, this axis will continue upward, emerging high above the temple as a golden spire. Participants are invited to contribute to this shrine, and to the hundred niches that will penetrate the temple’s walls. These offerings should be construed as gifts that will embody what our culture and its city means to you.


As always, any work of art by anyone, regardless of our theme, is welcome at the Burning Man event. If you are planning to do fire art or wish to install a work of art on the open playa, please see our Playa Art Guidelines for more information. To apply for a grant to fund the creation of artwork for Burning Man 2017, see here.



Theme by Larry Harvey and Stuart Mangrum, text by Larry Harvey

Man Pavilion design by Larry Harvey, Andrew Johnstone, and Jack Haye

Illustration by Andrew Johnstone and Jim Pire

About the author: Burning Man

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194 Comments on “Burning Man 2017: Radical Ritual

  • LEMUR says:

    bring back the old man……

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  • eggchairsteve says:

    “the Temple Burn”…. one wonders will there be no “temple” this year??

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  • Osjo says:

    Why would you hide the man?

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  • ifellfromthesky says:

    Golden Spike is not a ritual , it is a popularity contest full of catch phrases and phony statements with a cringe-inducing pecking order on who “speaks”

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  • terbo ted says:

    this theme sounds like the name of a seasonal drink at Starbucks.

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  • Victoria Rose says:

    I like it

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  • Steve Farris says:

    I was hoping that this year’s theme would be “WWF Superstars of the Mid-1980s”. Oh, well. There’s always next year.

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    • The Hustler says:

      They actually had a Wrestlemania-type of contest to decide the theme.

      Stuart gave Larry the burliest piledriver the world has ever seen — the sympathetic groans from the audience still reverberate through the secret meeting facility, which is rumored to be just outside Whitefish, MT. — which resulted in this theme beating out “theocratic autocracy in post-post modern society.”

      It’s a good thing, because that other theme is just not as good, and it doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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  • ChiliPepper says:

    Bring back the old man! I do not choose burning man for ritualistic purposes.

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  • BRAVO!

    “There is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the consecrated spot cannot be formally distinguished from the playground. The arena, the card table, the magic circle… all are in form and function playgrounds, i.e. forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.”

    Indeed, The World’s Biggest Playground!

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  • Complain In The Membrane says:

    You motherfuckers will complain about everything.

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  • The Hustler says:

    The themes seems to get more abstract and “create-your-own-adventure,” in a way. I’m not upset about that.

    I know I have to reread the text again later to let it completely sink in … but, the man isn’t on a pedestal, he/it isn’t calling for all to admire him/it.

    It’s almost as if Larry and Stuart are telling us this whole Burning Man thing is more than just a large effigy, an idol — false, real or otherwise — or perhaps even any of the staff or volunteers.

    It’s going to be odd to not see the figure standing tall and neon-lit, stepping out of the dust, dusk and chaos.

    Every year Burning Man is exactly the same, and every same year, it’s a completely different thing.

    You guys, Larry and Stuart, really kicked it up a notch with this one.

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    • Lovebomb says:

      thank you for this comment!
      there is really no reason for mourning..

      “only change is steady”

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      • michelle geil, (wyatt periwinkle) says:

        Thank you for your thank you, Loveb. Simply and elegantly stated. And yes, “the Hustler”, this whole Burning Man “thing” is so much more than just an effigy (-: It’s our desires, hopes, live-out-loud wakeup call, call-to-order of the universe, singing our bodies electric and bringing our agonies and ecstasies, fears, triumphs, dreams and nightmares to life, and sharing them with those who accept us as we are. In a word (too late!): yay.

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      • Lonesome Driftwood says:

        Except that it too changes …

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    • roissy says:

      Besides only part of the description has been “cut and paste” from the Vault Of Heaven year…

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      • Sara says:

        “Create-your-own-adventure” would be an awesome Burning Man theme! With spontaneous post-apocalyptic and dungeons and dragons type role playing games on the playa. Gift giving of quests and experience points.

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  • Tripod says:

    Burningman 2017: Jack in the Box

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  • Professor says:

    In light of recent events in Oakland could we NOT burn the Man inside a structure. Please.

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  • Bob Heacock says:

    I liked the “Old” Man, the skeletal form with lights on the ribs and shoulders, and waxed coffee sacks tied to his legs and arms. The “New” look of the Man is uninspiring, and the “clown buttons” are ludicrous. Bring back the old design——and the old “Man Kcrew” that built it. Burning Man, in its own right, is rich with tradition and ritual, and the “New Look” Man is a violation of what so many of us knew and loved.

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  • Paul Ragano says:

    I’m Excited!
    Nothing matters and everything makes a difference.
    I’m Excited

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  • s. says:

    last year: tiny upside down headless dude.

    this year: dude in a box.

    but will the plaza be open for more then 3 days?

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  • Cooter says:

    Can we get some clarification. the article seems to imply that the borg is merging the temple and the man but is kinda vague. Is this correct? Seems odd to talk about sacredness then rearrange the things and traditions that people find sacred.

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    • Lovebomb says:

      they just say they build “a” temple over the man, why should that imply that the temple disappears?

      i cant find a single sentence to worry about that..

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    • Youngen says:

      Exactly… And in light of Oakland, and a recent painful death this weekend in the Midwest burner community, not having the separate Temple – and as such, the separate Temple Bjurn – is a painful thought. The Temple aids in closure. It also celebrates positive things, not just closure for loss, but this is a very important and integral part of what the Temple means to many of us. Abd to possibly not have that space in the sense that we are familiar and ritualistically comfortable with, for those of us grieving these big losses and more, it’s a painful raw edge. For the burners who just lost a sister especially. The thought of not having a very ritualistic, symbolistic place at Burning Man to grieve that loss, something that many have been able to look to in past in times like this, to help let go… I dunno. I dunno, words are hard right now. There’s a lot of raw, a lot of pain in the community, and clarification on whether or not the Temple – especially the Temple Burn – will be had in the traditional *ritualistic* sense, would be immensely helpful… This is in no way stated in my part to draw out drama. Please, if you feel the need to respond to my statement, keep it gentle… Like I said, for many of us, this is thought processes about this announcement, and coming out of a place of a lot of pain and loss and grief. Bear with me. Bear with us.

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      • Jimmy Peckerwood says:

        Chill out bro. Just cos some rough things happened in Oakland def does not mean we need to change things at Burning Man. Is rough all over. Get some rest and when you feel that need to whine just go ahead and hit the pillow instead. Or go hug a tree or knock back a pint. Do what you need to stop from letting your experience make you precious and superior. Some rough stuff happened. Oh well. It does. Roll on bro.

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      • D. Notfunnyatall. says:

        I think this speaks volumes about one persons experience of the temple

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    • Nickie B says:

      ^^ exactly this

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      • Stu says:

        If the intention is for the ‘temple’ mentioned here to replace “THE” temple I think that would be clearly stated as it would such a big change. I think they are wanting to simply bring the idea/notion of ‘ritual’ toward the man – but without taking away from the unique meaning/relevance/use/importance of the temple.

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    • Megan Miller says:

      The intention is definitely not to merge the Man and the temple. We anticipate there will be a temple as there has been in past years, and perhaps several other temple-like or otherwise sacred structures throughout Black Rock City.

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  • Mike Skaar says:

    And the journey home begins again. :-)

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  • roberto dobbisano says:

    will bass nectar be there?

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  • lolz says:

    ‘Disappointing 2.0’

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  • Nickie B says:

    I’m not even going to comment on my opinion of the overall theme, but I will say this: Combining the Man and Temple is a TERRIBLE idea. WHY?!!! The Man is a loud party, where people get shit stolen, and you can’t even differentiate which art car the music is coming from. The Temple is a quiet, sacred space to get self-care time, away from all that. Why would you take that away from us?!

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    • CP says:

      I feared the same thing but I believe an earlier commenter may have it correct: surrounding the Man will be “a” temple, not “the” temple. Wouldn’t make much sense to have a theme that honors rituals while doing away with one of the most meaningful rituals for many Burners.

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    • Playa Nai'a says:

      Zackly [sniff!]

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    • Larry Harvey says:

      Combining the Burning Man and the Temple is indeed a terrible idea — that is why we are not doing this. The Temple will recur as always; that is the nature of ritual. In recent years many other different kinds of temples have sprung up on the playa, all of which have a unique intention, and we are hoping this year’s art theme will spawn many more.

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      • Nickie B says:

        Thanks for clarifying! It sounded like it was THE Temple. Either way, the Man is going to be quite a bit different this year, and I appreciate that. This *is* the REAL Larry Harvey, right?

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    • manfromsnowy says:

      maintain the sacred space I have never been in a 40,000 person crowd, with no sound but crackling embers, no sounds, was a really powerful expression of oneness, I was definitely stunned by the silence.

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      • G says:

        . . . . . This. Yes, you frame it so well.
        It is the 24 hours later counterpoint to the raucous rowdy Man Burn.
        Wild celebration followed by silent contemplation. Such an amazing contrast and counterpoint.

        I spent many hours there stirring up and going through the grief for mother this last burn. The crowd’s silence was such a gift because I was worried someone would choose to “express themselves” with some sort of over amped PA system.

        So back on topic. The illustration above? The Man in a cage? Seriously?

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  • Maid Marian says:

    Please accept our apologies. This item went to print prematurely with placeholder text.

    We are proud to announce the 2017 theme: Phoning It In

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  • WhyIsTheTempleAndManOne says:

    no doubt a cost cutting measure so they only have to build one structure. I guess the ticket sales werent enough to subsidize the land they bought

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    • Snarky Fuck says:

      Well, they fired the Man Crew and put the man base crew in charge of building the Man. Last year we all saw how well that worked out. So this year they’re firing that crew and giving it all to the temple crew.

      “We believe this streamlined approach will achieve greater efficiencies and unlock shareholder value. Greeters will be handing out copies of Who Moved My Cheese to help you through this transition. “

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  • Moralcompassthatpointstowardsin says:

    Moving the man into a temple seems like the next logical next step to create a new-age religion. Can we have a separation between church and my burn please?

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  • David Leon says:

    BRING BACK THE OLD MAN!!! PLEASE

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  • Bob says:

    Can’t make everyone happy. If your energy leads you to complain then find something else to do. Let those who choose to engage have their fun and go seek out for yourself that which makes you happy. Entitlement doesn’t look good on you.

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  • turnerbroadcasting/ Pedro says:

    In software, we call a test product development a spike. The idea of ritual without meaning is a little strange. I am thinking of the Japanese Tea Ceremony – each element holds meaning – harmony, and tranquility. Truths that have no proof or warrant are sometimes things that point to a future predictive power. For example, I could ask the State of Nevada .. is it true, to say that the Burn is a live entertainment event? Or is that just a lie. Interesting theme.

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  • Sebastian says:

    Hiding the man is different. I dig it.

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  • Chowski says:

    Many virgins, much sacrifice! Blood will flow.

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  • Amber Dawn says:

    I absolutely love the idea; highlighting how important it is for us to have ritual, finding the sacred in everything. I can’t wait to create something that embodies this and I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!

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    • Savonnette says:

      Amber, I love your post! I was a little disturbed by the Man in 2016. Smaller, weird, too intellectual; I can’t see it from away; I’m gonna get lost…. When I saw the drawing of the 2017 one I became even more disturbed until I read the article. Duh! Yep. Nothing is permanent. Change, accepting change and thriving in it is an absolute necessity for us to become and remain ALIVE. Otherwise, we are “phoning it in.” 2016 Man, I owe you an apology.

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  • [k]raig says:

    Daft Punk at the Sacred Polymer Trash Fence at 2am.

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  • Shannon says:

    The Man-burn ritual of screaming,, “Sit down! Don’t be an asshole! SIT. DOWN.” will not be effected.

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  • Smalarpi says:

    Thank you for bringing ritual as the theme!

    I was thinking of doing a large ritual of sorts for next year as I felt our community (old and new) needed to have more opportunities for such partitcpation. Now I know I will :)

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  • Liz says:

    “We need a playful theme. Get back to our Cacophany roots.”

    “Playgrounds? DesertWorld? Merry-go-fuck-yourself?”

    “Reinventing Rituals.”

    “I don’t get it.”

    “See there’s this philosopher I read in college.”

    “But there’s nothing playful about…”

    “And we’ll build a second temple. A Man shrine!”

    “Again, that doesn’t tie into play…”

    “Sacred spaces!”

    “Sigh. I’ll get the drums and incense.”

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  • Arthur says:

    This is just begging for a “Hey Koolaid!” “Oh Yeeeeeeeah”, climax

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  • Will Chase says:

    Nice work, Larry. It would be interesting and illuminating to do a Journal series exploring ritual and its role in societal development.

    In fact, I’ve been thinking about writing a post about the effects of the decline in fire-centric community gathering spaces in Black Rock City in recent years. You know where to find me.

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  • Lof says:

    What is not gonna turn on himself this year ?

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  • decker says:

    Dear Santa,

    All I want for Xmas this year is for some wealthy patron to fund a large-scale art piece that is a 50′ tall wooden man, standing on a structure. You know… to really f^$k with ’em.

    Thanks!

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  • Mel says:

    I miss seeing the man as we drive in. The last 2 years he was not visible from the line

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  • Mel says:

    I miss seeing the man as you drive in.
    The last 2 years he was no visible when we drove in

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  • Joe says:

    Can we PLEASE at least TALK about reducing carbon emissions this year? Or is that too radical?

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    • Chowski says:

      You should host an earnest and informative talk about that. Let me know when and where so I can be sure to avoid it.

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    • I DON'T HAVE CHAKRAS says:

      Have you invented a new type of carbon-free fire? Its burning man, not sitting-and-contemplating man….

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      • Joe says:

        I just mean REDUCING. I’m not trying to encourage carbon neutrality, but did you SEE the catacombs this year? That was an insane amount of wood! There’s got to be other ways to make art that shows the temporal nature of reality without burning up the entire damn rainforest.

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      • Joe says:

        I actually just had a really good idea.
        Build something out of concrete and then explode that shit, demolition style.
        Yeah, it’s a lot of cleanup, but burn art has to clean up their burn scar too, so it’s comparable.
        You could also build a giant mandala and slowly drip water from top to bottom, eventually washing it away.

        Once again, I’m not saying we should stop burning the man, but maybe limit some of the other installations?

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      • Good Idea Contrarian says:

        Go home, joe… this is not a fisticuffs you wanna engage. We burn shit and blow stuff up. Its apocalyptic. We all saw what happened when they tried to do “Green Man”… twice the men got burned and it was ironic.

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      • WhiteGhost says:

        “the temporal nature of reality” can best be demonstrated by burning up an entire rainforest.

        It’s a radical ritual that we practice each year.

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      • roissy says:

        “I actually just had a really good idea.
        Build something out of concrete and then explode that shit, demolition style.”

        You haven’t checked, but concrete production is responsible 7-11% of all C02 worldwide…
        Brick would be better… And wood could be carbon neutral…
        And I hope you are doing your part but not attending this year and showing us how it is done…

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    • Tree Girl says:

      Art for Trees has been raising funds to plant trees to replenish the wood we burn at Burning Man for the past few years. It would be great to bring more attention to the effort: https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/art-for-trees-2016-burning-man-and-beyond

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    • G says:

      Last time they did that, two Mans got burned. I got a two for one that year.

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  • placebo says:

    It’s a Turducken of Burningman…

    would that be a Burnducken?

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  • Sweet Baby Ray aka Prince says:

    Jack in the box.. wouldn’t that be amazing if the man would rise out of the temple before the burn! Lol

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  • Hooper Gladley says:

    “Radical Rituals”, eh? Sounds like my bathroom habits after a hard night of drinking followed by a ravenous 2 AM run though through the Taco Bell drive thru.

    But hey, I’ll be there regardless what Larry calls it!

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  • I DON'T HAVE CHAKRAS says:

    Not every burner is on acid 24/7 their entire lives. I am having a hard time telling the difference between this theme reveal article and the output articles from the new age bullshit generator. Like… are you trying to get me to join a chakra cult or something? I just want to burn shit in the desert, what the fuck.

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  • Peter Worline says:

    Not sure I like it. I prefer the the man with no skin. He was distinctive and interesting. This one looks like a clown with his big buttons. BM is about freedom. He looks trapped. This design just reminds me that 2017 is the year we all got trapped by the clown Trump presidency.

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  • lotus says:

    realease past
    embrace present

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  • Paradise says:

    Putting the Man in the Temple: Is this perhaps the last Burn?

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  • The Punisher says:

    Finally, A theme that speaks directly to the 1% Burners in attendence!

    Radical Rich, y’all!

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  • Jeromeo says:

    Next year’s man was better.

    I say we burn the damn thing to the ground!

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  • johnnyjet says:

    sounds like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring –

    yes the old man was better but bring back the burning dancing man and let’s get rid of the fire spinners

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  • Everyone's thinking it says:

    This is so contrived.

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  • Everyone says:

    Make a stick Man.
    Make him huge.
    Stop themes.

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  • Angel Angle says:

    Are you seriously corn-dogging the man with the Temple?!?! This isn’t a cute pig-in-a-blanket that your mom’s boyfriend thought he was impressing you with when he took you camping while your dad was in town. GTFO… Two unique experiences wrapped into one on such a grand scale is bullsnatch. Shame on you, I’m running away with dad on his motorcycle until you make this right…

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  • D. Notfunnyatall. says:

    Why emphasize ritual and the FV@K with the role that the ritual has played? Its more proof you don’t understand the nature of ritual and are trying to push people into the categories of experience that make sense to you. Barf.

    I barf my religious experience on you.

    Barfable.

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  • Bentham Foucault says:

    Its kind of like the Panopticon! (Dare I say, “Manopticon”?) Which is both kind of brilliant and kind of scary.
    I like that it’s different than other years, but it will be weird to not see the Man in all his celebratory nature being above everything else… I always get this sense of happiness riding around mid week and seeing the Man with his arms down, face pointed at 6, just making sure we are all getting down and doing it right. He has this stern approval about him. I find it comforting. It gives me the feels.
    Should be cool. Change is nice.
    Manopticon 2017

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  • Zippo says:

    I don’t think anyone would disagree with the statement that the “old” Man was more visually interesting to look at, and more “venerable”, in the ritual sense we’re discussing here, than the “new” skinned Man with the clown buttons. BRING BACK THE OLD “MAN”.

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  • JV says:

    This theme is like someone in a movie about Burning Man entitled “Radical Ritual” turning to the camera in the middle of some dialogue explaining what Burning Man is to say the words, “radical ritual.”

    It’s not like the theme has ever had much influence on the rest of the art, but geez, this is uninspired. Burning Man is a radical ritual, duh. It’s like having a theme for Coachella be “Music Festival.”

    By the way, I very much like the idea mentioned by a few people here about an independent art project duplicating the look of the Classic Man, for lack of a better term. I’m not gonna do it, I’m too lazy and just like complaining from the sidelines, but maybe someone else will. I’d take a picture in front of it and post it to Instagram.

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  • Dusty Nipples says:

    I’ll be returning home for the first time since 2010. I will be very sad if I’m not able to see the man at the center of our city. He is our beacon. Please reconsider this structure and do not hide the man inside of a building. That would just be wrong on so many levels.

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  • Baker Beach 89 says:

    Sounds like an ideology, so….what’s the theme?

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  • Richard MacLennan says:

    Maybe the theme should be “Diversity”, and BM should be open to everyone not just some people (“BM snobs”) with preconceived notions of who is and who is not appropriate for BM.

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    • chow says:

      Everyone is welcome. Even you. Buy a ticket and come. Sorry, buy a ticket, get a tent, some clothes, food, water, shade, and something to share. And then come. No one is stopping you.

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  • Grand Funk says:

    Well. This sounds horrible. I guess next year won’t be my 15th Burn after all. :-(

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  • Shrugs says:

    No More Smoldering Clown Man! Bring Back Ribby!

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  • Somebody says:

    Love the theme, but would prefer to see the Man stand on top of his temple, visible from all parts of Black Rock City…

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  • PLEASE!!! Bring back the Regionals Burn Thursday night around the Man!!!

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  • Larry Harvey says:

    We intend to do this; this time more closely encircling the pavilion with shrines mounted on pedestals that we will provide. This may make it possible to burn them on Saturday night when the Man is burned — more details to follow.

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  • Whisper says:

    The man needs to be visible. He needs to lord over the event. Please consider putting him on a pedestal again, or at the very least, change the scale of this structure by an order of magnitude.

    Generally, I love and can get behind new ideas, but hiding him in a building/temple feels like a repression of the spirit of the entire event.

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    • Larry Harvey says:

      Were we to place the Man on a high pedestal so that he might “lord it over the event”, I think this would produce a firestorm of criticism, leading to charges that we were exalting Burning Man to the status of a god. He is not a god, nor is he in any way supernatural. He is just larger than we are. By placing him directly on the ground and encircling him with a mezzanine, we will bring people into more intimate contact with him than ever before. We are the ones who create him, he has not created us, and this is the whole point.

      I know it is difficult to imagine this on the basis of a small illustration, but when participants enter into this space, I think many will experience three basic perceptions: the Man will suddenly tower over them in a very immediate way (this is called transcendence) , and he will also feel closer than close, as if identity directly emanated out of him (this is called immanence). Finally, when they look around them, they will see a honeycomb of niches that embrace them, each encapsulating whatever people bring to this experience. Any good temple should accomplish these three things. But as to the Man standing in for the Lord, like some Medieval potentate, I don’t think people have much stomach for that anymore.

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      • Whisper says:

        I see my choice of words gave the wrong impression. I meant ‘lord over’ like a building can ‘lord over the surrounding area,’ It wasn’t intended as a spiritual reference. I can see what you are aiming for in the feel of the place and it’s something I really CAN get behind.

        That said, I think the man’s iconic size, position, and visibility are important to the experience of burning man. It’s, in my humble and personal opinion, one of the primary things that separates BRC from a ‘just a collection of stuff in the desert.’ Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many, many other things. I’m just implying that having the man in the background gives brings the city together and gives it a visible focal area. That’s why I commented about changing the scale of your design. If you like it, stick with it, (and honestly I think the concept is beautiful) but make it bigger and more visible from afar.

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      • Whisper says:

        A) Apologies for failing to proof-read that. I clearly double typed a word.

        B) Upon 10 further seconds of reflection, you could accomplish the same thing with a larger spire or a beacon. (Google “World Trade Center Morial lights” as an example of the kind of beacon I am describing.)

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      • Baker Beach 89 says:

        But the Temple is the problem, The Temple requires commitment to view the interior. 1st came the trash fence, now only a window remains,…..unattainable with out a devotion consisting of a passage though a portal. What price will the patron pay to play…….This is a baptism!

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      • Somebody says:

        So are you saying the spire on the top of the Man’s temple will tower higher than everything else so that it is visible from all points of the playa? Will there be a way to determine direction the way the Man has traditionally helped in navigation (like a compass does)? Those are my main concerns – it can be very confusing and disorienting without the centerpoint of our Great City showing which way is north…

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      • Somebody says:

        …or rather, which way is 12:00.

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      • Whisper says:

        Exactly, Somebody. It’s an important landmark in all respects.

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      • epiphanystarlight says:

        LOL… I love it. I was struggling with the ritual aspect until this comment. <3

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  • freaky says:

    let th eman be free……It does not belong in a cage

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  • Virginia Bennett says:

    My question is how will the Man be visible to the 70,000 participants when he burns? The theme is very exciting, but there is something odd about this design of “containment” of the Man. New concepts and challenge to traditions, absolutely, but are you sure you don’t want to rethink this??

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  • angle says:

    Can we get an additional tier created so that the perspective that is experienced at the first tier leg, waist and stomach level can also be experienced at the chest, neck and head level – this should bring the closer than close full circle and ulta intimate – not sure if this would diminish transcendence or not – but I would love to see that shit!

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  • The Agnostic Man says:

    Bottle the universe in an unforgiving paradigm and you have your God.
    Don’t forget to paint him Gold…… for gold will not burn a bias color.

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  • Elliot Naess says:

    Referring to this year’s Man Pavilion — the well established name of The Man’s accompanying structure — by the moniker universally recognized as the name of a completely different structure (which burns on a different night) is preposterously confusing.
    Please own up to a slip of the tongue and make the correction.
    The illustrations suggests to me a Pagoda. This even alliterates with Pavilion.
    Thank you.

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    • Larry Harvey says:

      My tongue has not slipped; it is your mind that’s slightly out of kilter. The structure that will surround the Man is in form and function a temple. You may expect to encounter many temples this year, but we don’t want you wandering around in circles, so you may call it the Temple of the Golden Spike, if this will comfort you.

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  • Indigo says:

    We want the original man. More skeleton, less clothing!

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  • th_meanreds says:

    so the whole theme is going to be an amalgam of new age spirituality based loosely on asian religions? call it for what it is! why not make it more inclusive and add christian motifs? at least a Man on a crucifix will be visible. so what’s the Temple going to look like this year? who approved this!?

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  • Lewis "stitch" Kawecki says:

    The illuminated man is an important landmark for navigation at night. The man’s shape is instantly recognizable. I love having the man on a base because I can see the heart of burning man from any location in burning man, but this structure will now be indistinguishable from the rest of the art at burning man. I don’t like having the man hidden, please free the man.

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  • Peace says:

    I love this theme. Burning Man is full of rituals that should be honored. One of those is the ability to look out from camp and see the man standing in the middle of the playa. So it’s a great theme that isn’t honored by the design for the man. The man design kinda feels like a “fuck you” to the community.

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    • Peace says:

      then again maybe a “fuck you” is a good thing to get people out of rigid thinking.

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      • Larry Harvey says:

        It is perversely touching that so many people have reacted in this way. They say they’ll lose their way without the Man to guide them, but this is about more than navigation (the spire of this temple will extend one hundred feet in the air and will pulse light upward, making it a reasonably handy landmark). I think this visceral response goes deeper. I don’t want to sound patronizing, but it is almost like the panic of child who is deprived of the sight of a parent – they are used to the Man feeling omnipresent. Our entire city, in fact, has been designed to abet this impression, and in this, I suppose he really is like a deity. In one sense we are saying that the Burning Man is really just like all of us; he lives in a house, and if you want see him you must get up close and personal, you must pay him a visit and maybe bring a housewarming gift. So I agree with you: sometimes people can gain something from a little provocation.

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      • Peace says:

        I will miss seeing the Sun come up over the man from the top of our kitchen. That’s one of my rituals. Like another person said, when I saw the design, it felt like a punch in the stomach. But I don’t want Burning Man to become “feel good”, or easy, or routine, so hopefully I’ll learn something new from my own discomfort and maybe I’ll find new rituals.

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  • Unworthy Plebe says:

    There is way too much hate going on here – either people need to chill out about this new MAN design, or we’re going to have to turn over security detail to White Privilege Ocean. Perhaps it might be best if this new up-close experience is monitored by Paid Employees of the More Important People. A true red carpet experience, with attendant velvet ropes, would both add value to the transcendence and insure that the cool chick with all the black feathers would be able to get a clear selfie for her Instagram before being mobbed by the rabble. I like where this is going!

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  • Dr. Bungee says:

    One negative trend developing at BM is the existence of ever increasing lines. Lines for Embrace, lines for Totem of Confessions, lines for the Lighthouse… I understand that with more people coming to BRC, there is going to be a whole lot of waiting going on. I’ve also met some amazing people waiting in lines. The last two burns had interesting gathering areas around the man. The plaza with it’s Guilds, and the Maze with the Carnival, were both much fun, but the crowds became almost unbearable. This new design looks like another people trap in the making.
    Oh well, it’s probably time to stop bitching, and take a trip out to deep playa. But isn’t that now DMZ territory? Maybe I’ll just go back to camp to protect it from the hooligans.

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  • Starshe says:

    Wow!im excited!sounds amazeing..will be building ritual costumes all year for this!

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  • Paperman says:

    I like it. It invites group participation. Small and large. Very excited about creating a inviting camp to play in.
    Think the temple /pavilion around the man would be nice if not to tall but very wide with lots stairs. And you could make the top and sides just a support frame. Looks a little top heavy in the sketch. The whole thing needs to be less cute please. The man has become too cute. Like Danish furniture.

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  • johnnyjet says:

    Michael Tilson Thomas “Keeping Score’ ‘Stravinsky ‘ The Rite of Spring” with the lecture before the performance…….It’s Burning Man

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  • T-Rex says:

    Hmmmm….Components are an essential part of Rituals, and the Man Standing tall in the background (or foreground) is a fundamental component of countless rituals we’ve developed, as well as the shared ritual of Black Rock City, and in this year of rituals we’re………boxing him up!?!?

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  • T-Rex says:

    Oh, never mind, I get it — The man was a bad boy last year for standing on his headless head and not standing tall, so he’s grounded in is sacred house ’till 2018………

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  • G says:

    Just dreaming here . . . .
    If I had the money, and the BORG would grant the “art installation” placement on the playa. I would build an old fashioned man, and have an old fashioned style burn on Thursday, one with drum circles rather than the deafening cacaphony of sound blasting art cars, one less technical and show business, with more of a tribal paleolithic feel to it, one where the crowd would all walk in unison around him chanting “burn him, burn him”, one that would be far more intimate and personal than what the Burn has become. (I am not knocking what it has become, don’t get me wrong)
    Gimme that old time Burn-ligion.

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    • Larry Harvey says:

      If you really want to a stage a kind of Reformation that revives the one true and right practice of Burning Man ritual, you could emulate our origin on Baker Beach. This would have the advantage of requiring no funding at all. That Man was eight feet tall and made from scrap lumber, and our effort manifested all ten of the Principles, particularly Radical Self-Reliance. You needn’t passively yearn for institutional help. Why piggyback on the shoulders of the current event? I can’t guarantee we’d place this next to the great Burn (to tell the truth, we wouldn’t), but we didn’t need a greater burn to validate our effort.

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      • G says:

        “Why piggyback on the shoulders of the current event?”
        100% self reliance is not possible in BRC because ORG approval and placement needs to be obtained (don’t get me wrong, organization is what makes it all possible and has my utmost respect). Might you pull a string or two for this idea? :)

        Having it placed out in open playa nowhere near the Greater Man would be the best choice. Out in the point three area would be good.

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      • Larry Harvey says:

        This is a reply to G’s post entered below, to which our system doesn’t appear to allow me to reply:

        You are certainly welcome to construct a man, although I would appreciate it if you didn’t literally copy ours. In fact, I rather like your idea. We allowed someone to do just this a few years ago. If you don’t require a grant, I needn’t pull any strings, and I think the placers could put it in the area you propose. If you encounter any problems you can cite this post.

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  • Twan says:

    The “Radical Ritual” theme has been done, over a period of years by the late, great visionary artist, the one-and-only Pepe Ozan, and his Burning Man Operas of 1996 thru 2002.

    http://www.burningmanopera.org

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  • strike anywhere says:

    Any ritual is the opportunity for transformation. To do a ritual, you must be willing to be transformed in some way. The inner willingness is what makes the ritual come alive and have power. If you aren’t willing to be changed, don’t do it. What would be the point. Preparation for the ritual is the ritual. Beliefs seldom become doubts; they become ritual. They become intrinsic parts of social heritage, themes of public celebration. Don’t let physicalities block your ritual, let your ritual follow you home. It can be as easy as lighting a match!

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  • Judge says:

    Wow. What is THIS happy horseshit?

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  • Paperman says:

    I’m seeing two strongly felt ideas here. Make the structure around the man big enough so that it isn’t too crowded. Like the flying saucer was. And make it more open than the quick sketch suggests so that we can relate to him a little more if not right on top of him. Not a deity at all, just feels real good to look over and see him when ever you look. And why a pagoda? no reason to lean towards any building style that has nothing to do with the theme. Could make it look like stone or like Angor Wat. When you put the man on the pavilion was over built but was great to meet people, was just great for meeting new friends. Maybe the outside like a Mayan temple – nothing but stairs. Please make it so it isn’t too crowded.

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  • Anne Tara says:

    Would someone engaged in planning this theme please address the clear Asian/Buddhist influences of the design of the man? This really looks exactly like a Buddhist style stupa spire on top of a Chinese style building, which feels disturbing to me when I consider that the Chinese government is actively suppressing and destroying ancient Buddhist ritual lineages in the Himalayas. Right now.

    While we acknowledge that we haven’t inherited a religious identity and deserve to develop our own rituals, let’s be careful not to appropriate the religious identities of peoples who are struggling to maintain their rituals and lineages in the face of colonialism and capitalism. Huge bonus points for contributing some tiny percentage of the money you make on this event to support organizations that preserve traditional Buddhist rituals.

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  • Larry Harvey says:

    If culture is a property, it is a highly erotic form of property and subject to all kinds of canoodling. The structure that you call a stupa is actually a pagoda, which is in fact an East Asian appropriation of the Indian stupa — this occurred back in the 4th century BCE. This may seem like a niggling point, but it illustrates the fact that cultures have been imitating one another since the beginning of time, irrespective of national boundaries. The history of culture is one long orgy of emulation.

    We of course are merely appropriating a sacred style of architecture. But we are imitating its expressive form and not its content. I can agree it would be tasteless to replicate beliefs we do not really share — this would feel like ridicule, it would be a kind of travesty. I think, however, that your critique hints at one of the excesses of identity politics, that it almost seems to assume that living, breathing culture should or could be copyrighted.

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  • wILD bILL .:)"(:. says:

    Well put, and I agree with Larry Harvey. There are so many cultures and so many beliefs out in the world, and is one the only “right” one, to so many, yes, are they the same one, most likely not. It is the challenge of the ages, and on going interpretations that bring us together, and seemingly separate us to the point of fighting over and over again. It the real truth in the golden spike, or The Holly Grail? Would we be here if we know the whole truth? Many have questions, and many have answers,,,,,,And it may be a life as we individually see it. If you want a temple at Burning Man, build it, and it will be. I am grateful for every temple every year( 15), my guess is there will be one again this year as well, who is going to design it, fund it, and build it? We have about 252 days to get done, before it will burn on a late summers eve, in September 2017.

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