I wonder if Paul Addis saw me as he climbed up the Man to set him on fire early Tuesday morning? I was in the Green Man Pavilion down below when it happened.
I didn't see him. I had just met Katrina Kachina, a major force behind the Green Man theme, minutes before. I was standing by the Open Source Green Lab installation, gazing upon the full moon eclipse with the Man behind my back. I had been scheduled to offer knowledge about natural building systems and resources to anyone who wanted to lend an ear earlier that afternoon, but the whole Pavilion was closed off because a nearby artist hadn't finished using a forklift and welding his metal tree together yet, and didn't open until the end of the day. Satisfied with having stayed up until early Tuesday morning to witness the highlight of the night, I started heading back to camp for bed as I noticed an odd energy grow around the Pavillion.
As I began to walk across the open playa I watched an emergency vehicle weaving through Black Rock citizens and heading out straight towards me. They passed right by me on their way towards the general direction of the Man. I turned around to see where their destination was and my breathing paused.
I didn't see the Man burning. I may have glanced at something on fire when I turned around, but that didn't interest me. What immediately seized and held my attention was Orion crawling over the mountains along the eastern horizon. The first sighting of his annual rebirth is always a special moment to me, and I hadn't seen Orion since the springtime in Costa Rica where I had figuratively burned my own man. Feeling even more grateful for the celestial activities of that night, I continued onward to rest upon my dusty bed.
I didn't find out that the Man had burned until breakfast. Oh well. I'm sure that it would have been amazing to actually NOTICE the Burning Man when I was still standing within range of Him falling on me, but He had been eclipsed by the beauty of the bigger picture at that moment.
I heard Mr. Addis did it because Burning Man was letting the Corporations invade with the Green Man theme, because of what Burning Man had become/lost over the years, because it needed to be reclaimed/redefined in the true spirit of radical self-expression.
I was gifted a ticket to Burning Man in exchange for hosting discussions on natural building systems and resources for the Open Source Green Lab. I even got on the playa two days early to help set up the Green Man Pavilion. On Monday the whole Pavilion was closed because an artist was still building a tree. I had been looking forward to hosting my first session that day, as well as a couple that showed up just to be in it. It opened up to the public for the first time later that evening, only to be closed down again seven hours later. On Tuesday the rebuild crew had rearranged and condensed the Pavilion to make room for making the new Man. We thought we could resume the Green Lab the next day, but weren't able to until finally on Friday. We had to have the whole Pavilion cleared out later that night so that the Man could burn again the next night. Over two dozen open learning discussions on a plethora of 'Green' issues and technology could have transformed the paradigms of burners, only two actually happened on the only day it was open. How many people went to see the Pavilion and participated that day?
Aside from the setup crew, how many people actually got to see the entire Pavilion in it's original state before the eclipse? To be able to walk up to the pyre and caress the bark on those giant timbers while gazing directly up at the Man? To hear all these beautiful animal sounds, and to be told by someone nearby that they are all recordings of extinct species that a biologist had recorded during forty years of field work? To witness the power of algae to digest generator fumes into oxygen and biomass? The atmosphere was powerful and serene at the same time. Everything under the Pavilion was art. There wasn't any branding or logos or ads that could be seen there, not even for the non-profit that had organized the Open Source Green Lab. How much interaction with those art pieces and visionaries was lost because one man had an overwhelming desire to impose an early burn upon everyone else?
To me that whole experience was frustrating. I knew that the Green Man was just an art theme and not an ideal to meet while creating a temporary city of Americans, but it might have had a chance to become manifested into so much more than an illusion in the desert.
But as a virgin with a free ticket and no sessions to host on a schedule anymore, how could I really complain?