Words of Larry

     
I do not want to die, I hate the idea of dying, its not so much the injury, but the insult. If people lived for 300 years you would get life stories for the first 130-200 years, all this person did was Fuck Up again and again. Then on year 230 that's enough of that...And who knows, given enough chances, the problem with life is you do not have enough chances, you better be alive to the meaning of things while you have the chance.  
     
Belief is thought at rest.  
     
Black Rock gives us all a chance to heal, to become ourselves.  
     
Historically religions have pretty uniformly derived from some kind of primary mystic experience. The charismatic figure goes out in the desert, comes back with this wonderful visionary message for their fellows, and that vision then gets translated into a religious observance .  
     
It avoids a self-conscious relationship to the act. We live in the most self-conscious society in the history of mankind. There are good things in that, but there are also terrible things. The worst of it is, that we find it hard to give ourselves to the cultural process.  
     
Originally the core ritual around the Man was the raising and the burning. That required that people act together, perform a cooperative action that had enormous expressive quality. But essentially we didn't have to assign any meaning to it. It was very apparent that we were going to raise him.  
     
They become the keepers of the mystery. They place themselves between the communicants of the religion, and the immediate experience. And then they dictate the terms on which you can have contact with this wonderful mystery. We don't dictate those terms.  
     
They had been assigned a role. They were a member of the greater whole. They shared our same goals. Through the simple act of helping out.  
     
We encourage people to invent ritual, to invent games. Every year someone will devise some kind of performance art. You can call it performance art, you can call it ritual. I think performance art is basically an attempt to recreate ritual, for the most part, at least that's the impulse behind it.  
     
We take people to the threshold of religion. Our aim is to induce immediate experience that is beyond the odd, beyond the strange, and beyond the weird. It verges on the wholly other.  
     
Well it seems to me, that all real communities grow out of a shared confrontation with survival. Communities are not produced by sentiment or mere goodwill. They grow out of a shared struggle. Our situation in the desert is an incubator for community.  
     
We're like Disneyland in a sense...It is a lot more active and a lot more entertaining than Disneyland, but we are Disneyland turned inside out. Disneyland is about purveying a commodity, we are about creating a spiritual experience.  
     
When society is reduced down to a mere vending machine that serves merely the individual, unrelated to their fellows, unrelated to their community, unrelated to any sense of the greater well being of a society culture ceases to happen.  
     
Its sort of a metaphysical space, its such a perfect blank, its more nothing then you will ever see, in the context of absolutely nothing whatever is, is more intensely so, and that is what began to happen to us as human beings, it seems to illicit self expression, you could author your own reality and there was nothing around you as there is in our normal life to contradict that so it tended to make everyone an artist in some sense and what we have tried to do here is to create a context for what we call radical self-expression. We ask people to come in with their inner reality and project that out onto the world in an immediate way.  
     
We live in an over mediated world, in which the world appears to be what people see on a television screen and which self-expression reduces down to the mere consumption of goods.  
     
They have internalized the ethos they have learned here and now we are seeing a movement arising across the nation which we are helping to organize...With representatives across Canada, across America, Europe & the Far East...So now we are not an event we are a social movement.  
     
We are helping to create a new way to look at culture to look at Art, to look at our role in society in the coming century. People will begin to apply the essential values they have learned here through the politics in their home town and begin to engage in a civic dialog because they have seen a city that is based on these principles, that functions. That is how civic altruism and wearing a cow costume come together.  
     
Everything changes except The Man, he has remained pretty much the same over the years, we are not changing him anymore, he is like the center, the axle of a wheel, everything whirls around him faster and faster, he remains fixed at the center.  
     
That's the liberal conundrum, what are you doing about the racial thing, we have always been word of mouth and people come; one reason people do not leave their neighborhood is they are afraid of what might happen. The other side to it is there are all these white folks coming out here to find community, but if you do not have any money and your in your neighborhood; it will take bites out of you and afflict you, but at the same time if your dependent on finding your own resources and your living with people in some type of relationship, then you have more community then people who could live anywhere and everything is convenient because they have money; they can base their whole world about who they are individually, for the rest of it, they do not belong to anything; so they are willing to go out to a desert in the middle of nothing to get communal. As soon as you take it and turn it into a product and selling it on a mass scale it does not mean anything anymore; its just entertainment.  
     
The big problem with our society is consumerism; its just gobbling up cultures, gobbling it up and spitting it out for money. Its seems to me the only answer to that is something that starts like consumerism does with the individual; but instead of starting with some ideology that's what we believe is why we are all together; just start with you, the immediate and then you discover community and then you discover civics, then I think maybe you can change the world. I do not think you are going to change the world with a bunch of preaching; it won't work, we will just start burning everybody's property. That's the alternative to Burning Man is the Mall riots of the 21st century.  
     
In 1990 standing alone in the desert next to the man and thinking the thoughts I thought, I would be esteemed by the world as a lunatic; in-fact I was considered a lunatic. The advantage people now have is that they are surrounded by people equally as crazy as they are. So if they say, I am changed and your changed, I think it is a small step, a leap of faith but a step, to say that what is within us can change the world.  
     
The trouble with America is that it is a continent, with two neighbors only, who are patronized as inferior to the greater United States. We are an insolent country, we are a parochial country, scarcely aware of the rest of the world. That has become worse in the last 50 years, because Americans only know what they see on television. It's not surprising that a country would act out of ignorance and it is not surprising to me that our country would be prompted by fear because our world is dissolved into a great consumer spectacle; we are out of touch with the rest of the world, we do not have the communal experience, or the historic perspective that Europe had.  
     
What we produce is not monetary capital but social capital, a vast gift giving network. I do not see us as a counterculture, just an other culture. A gift economy has nothing to do with exchange, a gift is given without an expectation of return. If you are looking around your world for community, you will find it where gifts are given. In a world where no gifts are given, there is no community and if there is no community, there is no culture.  
     
You could not live in Black Rock City, people say that to me, wouldn't it be wonderful to have this all year round; they are lucky they survive for 8 days, no one could live in a perpetual state of celebration. At some point you have to turn off the lights and say the party is over.  
     
It takes a long time to discover what your gifts are...The trick is to find what you are that coincides with the world, it could possibly fit in; then suddenly your dream is there and as in a dream you step into the frame and suddenly everything in your world is meaningful and you were born to be in it; and everything is animated and you were meant to be there. Now how are you going to figure that out unless you keep doing stupid things.  
     
We have invented a kind of formula here, we give them a task that takes them out of themselves and in doing so, they completely forget themselves, their not concerned weather they are having a spiritual experience, there doing something. Its work; Burning Man is work.  
     
Culture is based on emulation, look what they did, gosh I could do that, I could add onto that, I could do something greater. We all want to do that, we should want to do that. It's you don't imagine you can do something until you see an example of it.  
     
We offer them the opportunity to be what all those ads offer, be yourself, except the ads offer them a product as a substitute for that experience, we offer them the real thing, then we offer them communal belonging and that what the white people don't have.  
     
It is only a temporary community, but while it lasts it represents to people powerful unities in time & space. We try and create the most connecting environment we possibly can, on the theory that community is the medium on which culture actually occurs. In some ways we are on the forefront of what the internet does and will represent in the future. We're making a model; we're showing you what you can do. What you can really do in the way of creating a dynamic cultural situation.  
     
So what happen was we attracted an audience, but it was the community that did it, we took it out to the desert and suddenly the two became one; going to the desert required an effort. To go to the desert put everyone in the same little survival boat on that flat unyielding sea.  
     
Living in America it is mostly devoted to commercial strip and urban sprawl and convenience outlets; it might not occur to you what community was. There was a time when communities grew up amid unities of time & space and places were real places and cultures were real cultures; now that we have gained so much power in the world, time & space dance to our tune and the result is that our population is completely dispersed and disconnected; plugged into a production consumption economy that is holey designed to cater to individual desires without relation to anyone or anything else. What we have done is we have designed a society for one purpose only; to foster, host the kind of community that will produce this dynamic result. We do a lot of things that are against our economic interest for that reason.  
     

 

2012 - Larry's Witnesses