A reading list inspired by, but not about, Burning Man

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few weeks ago a call went out on the Burning Nerds list:  ideas for books and articles that aren’t about Burning Man in any way, but that contain ideas and concepts that make you think of Burning Man, or could be applied to Burning Man.

The result was a pretty amazing list, and I’m including it below for your perusal.  There’s what sounds like some pretty amazing reading recommendations there.   It’s particularly interesting to realize:  this is what Burning Man makes people think of, and then delve into that.

Ideally the list should be organized alphabetically, or by topic … but I don’t have that kind of time.

Meanwhile, the most comprehensive list of academic books and articles about Burning Man per see (should you be inclined to stay on topic) can be found here.



Fischer, K. W., & Bidell, T. R. (2006). Dynamic development of action and thought. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Theoretical models of human development, Handbook of child psychology (6th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 313-399). New York: Wiley. (p) pp. 313-336, 347-399

Fischer, K.W., Yan, Z, & Stewart, J. (2003). Adult cognitive development: Dynamics in the developmental web. In J. Valinser & K. Connolly (Eds.), Handbook of developmental psychology (pp. 491-516). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Gee, James Paul. “Learning and Games.” The Ecology of Games: connecting Youth, Games and Learning. Edited by Katie Salen. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. 21-40. doi: 10.1162/dmal.9780262693646

National Research Council (2000) How experts differ from novices. In Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., Cocking, R.R. (Eds). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. (Washington, D.C. ) (pp. 31-50)

National Research Council (2000) How children learn. In Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., Cocking, R.R. (Eds). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. (Washington, D.C. ) (pp. 79-113)

Palinscar, A.M. (2003). Collaborative approaches to comprehension instruction. In A.P. Sweet & C.E. Snow (Eds.) Rethinking Comprehension: From Research to Practice. (pp.49-76). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Steele, C. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52(6), 613-629.

Tomasello, M. (1999). The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Chapter 1: A puzzle and a hypothesis; Chapter 2: Biological and cultural inheritance.

Weigel, M., James, C., Gardner, H. (2009).  Learning: Peering backward and looking forward in the digital era.  International Journal of Learning and Media. Winter 2009, Vol. 1, No. 1, Pages 1-18 Posted Online March 3, 2009. (doi:10.1162/ijlm.2009.0005)

Gross, J.J. (1998). Antecedent- and response-focused emotion regulation: Divergent consequences for experience, expression, and physiology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 224-237.

Matsumoto, D., Yoo, S.H., Nakagawa, S. Culture, emotion regulation, and adjustment: Multinational Study of Cultural Display Rules. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 925-937.

Srivastava, S., Tamir, M., McGonigal, K.M., John, O.P., Gross, J.J. (2009). The social costs of emotional suppression: A prospective study of the transition to college. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 883-897.

Georges BatailleThe Accursed Share (New York: Zone Books, 1988 [orig. pub. 1949]).

Claude Lévi-StraussIntroduction to the Work of Marcel Mauss (London: Routledge, 1987 [orig. pub. 1950]).

Jacques DerridaGiven Time 1: Counterfeit Money (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1992 [orig. pub. 1991]).

Lewis Hyde, “The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property” (New York: Vintage, 2007 [orig. pub. 1983]).

Bronisław MalinowskiArgonauts of the Western Pacific (Available online, [orig. pub. 1922]).

Mauss, Marcel (1967(1925) The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. WD Hall, Translation New York: W.W. Norton and Company

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale (Popular Culture and Philosophy, Vol. 4)

Hoff, B. (1983). The Tao of Pooh. New York, N.Y: Penguin Books.

Ruiz, M. (1997). The Four Agreements. San Rafael, Calif. : Amber-Allen Pub. : Publishers Group West.

Morgenstern, E. (2011). The Night Circus.New York, N.Y: Doubleday.

Kenway, J., Bullen, E., Fahey, J., & Robb, S. (2006). Haunting the knowledge economy. Routledge: New York, NY.

Achter, Paul. 2008. Comedy in unfunny times: News parody and carnival after 9/11. Critical Studies in Media Communication 25 (3): 274-303.

Bakhtin, M. M. 1968 [1984]. Rabelais and his world. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Berger, Peter L., and Thomas Luckmann. 1967. The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1979. Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Boyer, Dominic, and Alexei Yurchak. 2010. American Stiob: Or, what late-socialist aesthetics of parody reveal about contemporary political culture in the West. Cultural Anthropology 25 (2): 179-221.

Cross, Andrew. 1998. Neither either nor or: The perils of reflexive irony. In The Cambridge companion to Kierkegaar, eds. Alastair Hannay and Gordon D. Marino, 125-153. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

DeLoache, Judy S., and Alma Gottlieb, ed. 2000. A world of babies: Imagined childcare guides for seven societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Deloria Jr., Vine. 1969 [1988]. Custer died for your sins: An Indian manifesto. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Fernandez, James W., and Mary Taylor Huber, ed. 2001. Irony in action: Anthropology, practice, and the moral imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1986. Of other spaces. Diacritics 16 (1): 22-7.

Hutcheon, Linda. 1995. Irony’s edge: The theory and politics of irony. New York: Routledge.

Hinkamp, Dennis, and Lenny Jones. 2001. “Strip, dance, burn / use it to start something” advertisements.Piss Clear 14 (7.3): 8.

Miller, Megan. 2012. Back Rock City 2012 Population Update. Blog posted on December 11.

Miner, Horace. 1956. Body ritual among the Nacirema. American Anthropologist 58 (3): 503-507.

Turner, Victor Witter. 1969. The ritual process: Structure and anti-structure. 1966. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.

TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism  by Hakim Bey



About the author: Caveat Magister

Caveat is Burning Man's Philosopher Laureate. A founding member of its Philosophical Center, he is the author of The Scene That Became Cities: what Burning Man philosophy can teach us about building better communities, and Turn Your Life Into Art: lessons in Psychologic from the San Francisco Underground. He has also written several books which have nothing to do with Burning Man. He has finally got his email address caveat (at) burningman (dot) org working again. He tweets, occasionally, as @BenjaminWachs

13 Comments on “A reading list inspired by, but not about, Burning Man

  • Moze says:

    I’ve been waiting for this post Caveat. If I may, I’d like to add a few more to this list.

    The Golden Bough, A study in Magic and Religion. Sir James George Frazer, 1922: Collier Books

    You already mentioned TAZ by Hakim Bey

    The guy who writes the Burning Man themes has introduced me to a massive library of books, but a just a few of my favorites are:

    The Sacred and the Profane, The Nature of Religion. Mircea Eliade, 1957: Harcourt

    the Idea of the Holy. Rudolf Otto, 1923: Oxford University Press

    The Rites of Passage. Arnold Van Gennep, 1960: The University of Chicago Press

    And here are some books that I’ve collected that mention our event. I don’t include many of the multitude of photograph books, but here you go:

    Burning Man Live, 13 years of Piss clear. editor Adrian Roberts, 2009: RE/Search Publications

    This is Burning Man. Brian Doherty, 2004: Little, Brown and Company

    Burning Book, A visual history of Burning Man. Jessica Bruder, 2007: Simon Spotlight

    The Man Burns Tonight. Don Cortez, 2005: Simon & Schuster

    Inspired Madness, the gifts of Burning Man. Dale Pendell, 2006: Frog Ltd.

    X Force 75th Issue BASH (Mar Vol1 #75), Welcome to the exploding colossal man shindig and hullaballoo. John Francis Moore and Adam Pollina, 1998: Marvel Comics

    the people of BURNING MAN, portraits of revolutionary spirits. Julian Cash, 2011: Regent Publishing Services

    The Burning Man: A Modern Mystery. Interview with Darryl Van Rhey. Gnosis Magazine Summer 1995

    Enabling Creative Chaos, the organization behind the Burning Man event. Katherine K. Chen, 2009: The University of Chicago Press

    AfterBurn, Reflections on Burning Man. editors Lee Gilmore and Mark Van Proyen, 2005: University of New Mexico Press

    Theater in a Crowded Fire, Ritual and Spirituality at Burning Man. Lee Gilmore, 2010: University of
    California Press

    the Tribes of Burning Man, How an Experimental City int he Desert is Shaping American Counterculture. Steven T Jones aka Scribe 2001: Consortium of Collective Consciousness

    My friend Matt said Burning Man is a chapter in this (bought it but haven’t read it yet) The Blood Price. Jon Evans, 2005: Dark Alley

    Eye of the Burning Man, A Mick Callahan novel. Harry Shannon, 2005: Thompson Gale (bought it but haven’t read it yet. Affinity told me it casts a negative light on the event)

    The Girl Who Tried to Catch the Man. R.J. Thomas, 2008: Wild Shore Press. (Not sure what to say about this. It is a bunch of words in book form so there’s that.)


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  • tanny says:

    Just a few more to piggy-back on this great idea:

    Hunt, Mike. 2001. Why am I such a douchebag?: The theory and politics of group dynamics .San Francisco: Routledge

    Harvey, Larry. 1996. People Will Work for Free: How to exploit human labor in exchange for spirituality points. Santa Cruz: Mustacca

    Suckup, Joe. 2011. Hispsters are better than Real People: How to co-opt any movement or anything cool and make it suck . San Francisco: Jannice

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  • Disco Ball says:

    Careful, Caveat. You might actually be encouraging people towards academia with this list. I know you wouldn’t want to do that. ;)

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  • Parker East says:

    Was pretty disappointed with how academic leaning this list was after being super excited at the description from the JRS…

    It would be nice if it was split into categories.

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  • domitype says:

    I agree with Parker East – what about the works of Robert Anton Wilson?
    But if you are sticking to the academic: “No Go, the Bogeyman: Scaring, Lulling, and Making Mock” by Marina Warner gets into the roots of monsters and festivals – many of those festivals parade and/or burn effigies.

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  • 手機殼 says:

    children should commence finding out in regards to the fact of disasters after they are youthful. Teach

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  • lone wolf says:

    i would have to agree with parker east . i was hoping for a few fiction or simi fictions or even biographies to be referred too..how did hichhikers guid to the galexy not get on this list.?

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  • debby says:

    Another suggestion on the fiction side: _The City, Not Long After_, by Pat Murphy, which is the first book I thought of when I heard about this list.

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  • Cort says:

    “Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America” by Brian Francis Slattery.

    Future-dystopian American road novel, with a cameo from a certain unnamed bacchanalian retreat in the desert. Far out.

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  • osho says:

    I love this! What about Tom Robbins? – specifically, “Jitterbug Perfume” and “Skinny Legs and All.” Terrence McKenna anyone? “Invisible Landscape” and Trialogues with Ralph Abrams and Rupert Sheldrake (Tape). “The Illustrated Rumi” is a Playa favorite around camp as well. These storylines, discussions and images are highly evocative. Of course anything by the real Osho.

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  • Triken says:

    how about Michael Talbot’s “The Holographic Universe”…
    a whole ‘other’ way to look at Everything!

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