Radical Ritual


2017 Art Theme

  • 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 …Read More

Latest Post in the Series

What Rituals Do

  • Is Going to Burning Man a Hero’s Journey?

    “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” – Willa Cather   Do you have a story of how you got to Burning Man? I do. It started with an artist friend leaving the city where we’d met and travelling …Read More
  • The Connection Between Ritual, Art, and Play

    UCLA Anthropologist Dr. Megan Heller studies play — how we do it, why we do it, what impact is has — and when I asked her if she had any thoughts about this year’s theme, “Radical Ritual,” she came back with a challenging question: What’s the difference between “ritual” and “play?” Think about that question for …Read More
  • How Rituals Help Us Navigate the World — and Our Psyches

    Ritual, Dr. Tanya Luhrmann says, is the way we connect the world as it ought to be with the world as it is – and orient ourselves to it. Her anthropological work has taken Luhrmann into communities ranging from contemporary witches in England to Zorostrians in India; instructors and students studying psychiatry in America; and …Read More
  • On Radical Repetition — or, Is Larry Trolling or Enlightening Everyone by Recycling Past Themes?

    You don’t need to be a Burning Man veteran to realize that Radical Ritual, the 2017 art theme, shamelessly rips off Beyond Belief, the 2003 theme. Don’t believe me? Look it up. Sure, that year’s Man stood on top of a vaguely Mesoamerican pyramid, and this year’s Man will be shrouded by a vaguely East …Read More
  • Across This Line, Everything Will Be Different

    Consider the tea ceremony. The elegance of each stylized gesture. The deliberate pace. The simple beauty of its rustic implements. How is it that this ancient ritual is so definitively and quintessentially Japanese? Viewed through the lens of mass culture, it can be hard to understand. Why not just microwave some water, dunk in a …Read More
  • Why Ritual is Relevant

    If the crisis of Western Culture could be reduced to a bumper sticker, it might be this one: “Nietzsche Was Right.” In 1882, Nietzsche put some stunning words in the mouth of a character: God is dead, we have killed him, and the implications are staggering. Let me quote from the passage: “Is not the …Read More
  • Radical Ritual: Spirit and Soul

    Our art theme in 2017 is Radical Ritual. This leads to an obvious question: Just what is so radical about ritual? …Read More

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