Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Beauty of Burning Man

Although I was already aware of some of the immense festivals that occur not only in the United States but all around the world, I had not heard of the Burning Man Festival before. After the discussions in class and some research, I got to learn more about this event, which is actually quite popular. Last year, the event was even sold out in just 44 minutes, which I find astonishing by the fact that over sixty thousand people attended the festival. I have attended a couple of festivals myself, like Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), and it was an incredible experience. I was able to have fun with my friends, meet new people, forget any real world issues, and just simply enjoy the moment. However, I don’t think that I had the same experience as I would if I were to attend Burning Man. EDC is mainly an event for those who enjoy electronic music and raves, thus I noticed that many people who attended this festival were somewhat very similar. On another hand, the Burning Man Festival is described as an experience in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. Its meaning and purpose is far more deeper than any other festivals I have been to. To be honest, I believe that most music festivals, or at least EDC, are just effective money-making tools in the entertainment industry, unlike Burning Man where you go to simply get to know yourself better and bond with those around you. The tickets for Burning Man can be pricey, but from what I’ve learn so far, I consider the event to be very cheap for the values it hold and experiences you’ll have. In addition, sharing is a fundamental factor of the event, therefore it is not necessary to spend much at the festival since everyone shares with each other. The attendees, who are also known as burners, are guided by ten principles that shape the values and outcome of the event. I do not want to go into too much details about the principles and although they are all important, I find that radical self-expression, gifting, and decommodification truly makes the event a phenomenal experience. The fact that people want to create an environment that is not guided and supported by commercial sponsorship, transactions, or advertising to enrich their spiritual values (this is decommodification) along with sharing with others and truly expressing yourself sounds amazingly liberating.  
I believe Burning Man is the adequate and ideal event for modern primitives since they can express who they really are without judgement from others. Some people are be afraid of rejection because of their rituals and practices, but in an event where absolutely everyone is welcomed and people bond and share with each other at all times, it becomes easier for them to express themselves. The United States is a well developed country where many people, modern primitives, tend to engage and practice body modifications. Some body modifications can be as simple as piercing and tattoos and others can be very extreme, but we often see these practices in our culture. At Burning Man, people who are active with body modifications would want to interconnect with others who also practice it and share their reasons or desires for it. Burning Man can bring these people together and help people who normally wouldn’t feel accepted in our culture feel comfortable and like they fit in. In comparison to this culture, there is not too much body modification practices back in Colombia. I have not been back in a while, but a reason could be that people might be more judgemental and thus body modification is less acceptable. There are the simple things like tattoos and piercings, which are less common than in the U.S., but you probably would not see anything extreme. However, they do practice a lot of cosmetic surgeries, which is a form of body modification but is not really regarded in the same category as other modifications that we might not find accepting. Burning Man or any similar event where people go to show their modification and express their side that nobody usually sees probably doesn’t happen often, or at all, in Colombia. Body modifications, other than surgeries, is just not popular in that culture and its people will think that it is far out of norm. I wasn’t aware that they do not practice many body modifications until I talked to my family about it and I just find it really interesting living in different cultures can affect how you think and what you might think is acceptable.

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