This picture was taken exactly 1 year ago (give or take a few minutes) at the 2004 burn. The burn itself is fun and interesting for the simple fact that 35,000 are crowded around you and are screaming, chanting, yelling, crying while a 100' sculpture in the middle of everyone is burnt to the ground. What is really fascinating though is that as the man turns to ash the entire crowd begins to tremble. A tribalistic mob mentality starts to emerge as the group of people converge on the remains of the symbol of the week long event. The mood at the perimeter of the conflagration is indescribable. There is no modern english term that does it justice...it is something from the primordial parts of our human brains. Group. Ritual. Family. Power. Danger. Fire. Worship. Awe. Language breaks down and everyone is reduced to hooting and hollering. It is a base and peerless human experience. I'm sure the group madness that brews out there would seem horrific without the proper context. It is utter chaos not unlike the images you've seen for cataclysm or armageddon. It looks like heaven and hell mixed up in some unthinkable gyre of humanity, fire and glow lights. In context however, and if you are part of the group experience, it is the ultimate in catharsis. It is the abandonment of everything with the intention to rebuild. Its a flashpoint for all the questions of your life and a window of opportunity for you to decide to change.
If you're interested I've been doing a week-long photo essay looking back at 2004 on my journal with more photos.