What makes Burning Man events the transformative experiences that they are?
When default world people talk about Burning Man events, they usually get hung up on the “sex and drugs.” Well, yes, there are sex and drugs at burns, just like in the default world. But burning sex and burning drugs collide with the default construction of bodies, sex, pleasure, consciousness, and drugs in a default landscape of attachment, transaction, and misconception. For a default world person to contemplate going somewhere with a pure body, plant medicine, and natural intelligence is like hitting their thumb with a hammer, and that thumb is all they can think about. So, if I were to talk about burning sex and burning drugs with a person not yet ready to leave the world of PornHub and alcoholism, it could get long and come off as preachy, so I’m going to let this one lie.
Everyone, though, can enjoy focusing on another very Burning Man phenomenon: the playa name! You get to change your name there! I personally have been through five attempts at a playa name. Ithaca Max, Sister XXX, Proxy, Joosy (saying goodby to “x”), and finally Ducky.
I don’t know why the first four didn’t stick, and the jury’s still out on the fifth, but I am more excited about the names than the outfits or the shared kitchens or the feel of my body on the padded floor of my tent. There are the fanciful ones that don’t build on a person’s legal name:
Rosebud, Moondance, Nataraj, Radar, Craisins, PoMoJo, Button, AhMuse, HouseCat, Sphinx, Genie, Naked Yoga, Orion, Santiago, Narc, Monkey Boy, Baby Shot, CrackerJack, Upgrade, Kingpin, Cleo, Surya – I could keep going!
And there are also some fine embroideries on legal names:
Harp, LizZilla, Sheck, MegO, Katy Blue, JoJo, Big Mike, Naked Mike, the other Naked Mike, Just Jen – I have my ear out for these!
I want to meet a Jesus. A Johor, an Al·Ith. In fact, I want to be them, I want to flit in and out and through about a thousand names, these first five just being my warm-up, my maidenish venture. How about:
Fuzzypants, Amtrak, JBQ, Bermuda, Broody, Scoots, Beep, Charmian, Tea, MamaBear, Toilet, Stinky, Professoressa, Marmalade, Nut Butter, New York, Phone Booth, Shamela
Each name, through the rhythm of its consonants and the music of its vowels, sends out its own tone…maybe I can get one for every hour of the day, for a plethora of days! 168 names in a week!!!! And not to dishonor any of them – I want them to vanish afterwards without a trace.
Where is that Glynda, that Lentil, that Blue-Eyed Adapter now?
They and their vignettes have gone down before us and are now part of our lineage, our language, a long story of love and ephemeral impressiveness. Much like sex and drugs…