A dusty cure for the soul


  1. A man bathes in mud in the village of Ovca near Belgrade

One of the most difficult parts of writing a blog every day is finding an image that reflects my theme; finding a an appropriate one often takes as long as the writing.  Once in a while, an image suggests a theme – and sometimes an image is just too good to pass up.  This is one of those, the photograph does not go with the subject – Burning Man.  Except it looks like a disembodied head covered in the dust of the playa – might he not be at Burning Man?  It is actually a man lying in a muddy bath waters in Serbia, being cured of his aliments by the salty, mineral laden much that oozes up from hundreds of meters below the surface; on second thought, may be his image is related.  Isn’t that what Burning Man is supposed to do for our human soul, cure our aliments by immersing our collective soul in the minerals that ooze out of the Black Rock Desert?

It is a few days before Burning Man starts, but people are working at putting things – the personal and the public things – together.  The Reno Gazette-Journal has pictures of the construct of “the temple.”  A series of images of people working, some presumably for months on designing, assembling and erecting the temple.  In my neighborhood people are working on their costumes, campers and mobile displays – last night running I passed a group of men making the final adjustments to a kind of carriage  on top of a car, the car apparently only fit for the playa because it was on a trailer for transportation to Burning Man – the carriage was like those they use in India for riding on elephants, perched precariously on the top of the car.   Before that I saw a caravan of three cars – all solid, reliable looking forms of transportation – and a bus that looked like none of those things, but it was painted brightly.  By the time they get to the Black Rock Desert I will bet they wish they had a trailer or a tow bar for the bus – it was lurching and sputtering in the first quarter mile of its trip.  Starting early is probably a very good idea for the caravan.

One year I was on the road east of Reno on the day Burning Man ended and got the opportunity to watch streams of cars coming back – but I did not see anything interest, just dust; every car was covered in dust and most were unrecognizable as anything other than “a car.”  I think I was there at the wrong time – it would be fun to camp along the highway and watch the caravans wending their way to Burning Man.  Watching Burning Man grow, gain public notice and capture our collective imagination has been fascinating – each year more so.  This year I feel like those reports riding with the rebels on the way to Tripoli, at time like I am witnessing the birth of something really significant in human history.

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