The Temple of Whollyness has been revealed. It’s a massive pyramidal complex made entirely of interlocking puzzle pieces of wood, without any metal hardware. This kind of construction looks and feels organic, like something naturally produced by intelligent life forms — because, of course, it is.
It’ll also go up like the Fourth of July.
This is the method for which its creators have become known; Gregg Fleishman, Melissa “Syn” Barron, and Terry Gross, A.K.A. Lightning Clearwater III, brought us the beautiful Otic Oasis in 2011 and 2012, as well as the pistil inside the base of last year’s Man. These, like the upcoming Temple, were made only of simple, wooden shapes wedded to each other with pure geometry.
Otic Oasis, located far out on the fringes of the city, has been so named because it provides much-needed tranquility, which is in short supply in Black Rock City. Thanks to the structure’s remoteness and the intimacy, Otic Oasis was an ideal setting for conversation and reflection. It’s a thrill to imagine a Temple with the same construction.
My relationship to the Temple is complicated. I always feel like I’m taking up space there. Last year, my friend Sarah and I stayed at the Temple for 24 hours just to see if we could, and we made it through, but just barely. We were buffeted the whole time by the pain and sadness and joy and wonder Templegoers scrawl on the walls and scream to the heavens. It’s overwhelming. The Temple is the most intense place on the playa. It contains so much. So the shape of the container is critical. It sets the tone.
The tone of this year’s Temple will be heavily triangular, a 64-foot-tall pyramid with for 20-foot pyramids at its feet. It’s a grand, pleasing form. Its particulars are unusual, but its general shape recalls the great monuments of wonder humankind has built for many ages. It will be a worthy container.
Anyone interested in the power and legacy of the Temple at Burning Man would be remiss without reading Moze’s seminal document, Spirituality and Community: The Process and Intention of bringing a Temple to Black Rock City. I’d also submit the story Sarah and I wrote, 24 Hours At The Temple Of Juno, as a document of the kinds of crazy, wonderful things that can happen there.