The ritual of Burning Man was disrupted by an amusing act of counterculture fundamentalism when the effigy was burned five days early by an embittered veteran Burner.
The blaze began at the apex of a total lunar eclipse — stunning beautiful in the open desert — and drew an amusing mix of reactions from the crowd. Cheers, boos, screams of outrage and terror.
In our own professional dionysian opinions, Larry Harvey’s response was most appropriate.
Larry Harvey, Burning Man’s co-founder and director, was on a platform in his camp watching the eclipse when he noticed his Man on fire. Once realizing that the fire was under control and no one was apt to be hurt, he says, his immediate reaction was laughter.
The early burn, he said, will help show that the Man itself is “nothing but a wooden doll,” and that the event is really about the joint effort of attendees to create it. It will turn this year’s Burning Man into a “narrative of community and redemption” as the attendees get to see or assist in the public rebuilding of the statue, he said.