Oh to be in the desert this week for Burning Man An epic adventure of Alice in Wonderland proportions. Giant structures. A kaleidescope of colour. Creative anarchy. A tribal gathering of people committed to a different way of life – one filled with spontaneity, self-expression and fun. One unrestricted by the conventions of the 9-5. No more working for the Man, or giving him the finger (the lame gesture of the ‘80s punk) they want to BURN him.
Creativity has long been associated with fire. The fire in the belly that accompanies a new idea that is about to take form. The fire of the Gods.
It being August, and the holiday season, I’m catching up on movies I didn’t see the first time around. Last night I watched Prometheus. It prompted me to ask a few questions.
How bad? How expensive? How much of a waste of two hours of your life? And how come the producers already have the budget signed off to make the sequel!?
People say it’s the theme that is compelling and zeitgeisty. In the digital age, we are desperate for meaning, for answers to the BIG QUESTIONS. Who are we? Where did we come from? Which direction are we heading in? Is there a God?
The problem with big questions is they need a higher state of consciousness in order to process the answers. Complex data requires an advanced mind. Without this advanced mind, we have a tendency to imagine the future through a lens of the past… only more so. Science fiction is usually the past multiplied by technology and money. Prometheus is no exception. In the future, there is fighting (with much better weapons). There is sex (cyber sex, obviously). And there is fear (represented by slithering serpents. Will we ever move on from Adam and Eve?)
Meanwhile, back in the present day, there are people living in the Pacific islands who still think that God is a white man with a plane.
This is because in the Second World War, Cargo planes landed there, bringing supplies to the American troups. You can imagine the confusion to a race of people who had never seen a ‘flying machine’ and furthermore had never seen such an enormous array of food items (that seemingly did not ever perish!). Tinned spam – the food of the Gods!
Now, many years later, these tribal people have constructed their own aeroplane effigies and ‘landing strips’ made of pebbles and small fires. They keep a vigil, ensuring these fires keep burning, in the hope that one day the Gods will come back and gift THEM with this other worldly abundance.
It is heartbreakingly sad that they are worshipping the wrong God.
But then so are we.
We worship the God of STUFF.
The original story of Prometheus is a Greek legend. Prometheus, feeling sorry for the limited conditions under which humans were living (cold, residing in dark caves and eating raw meat) gave them the gift of fire – which he stole from the Gods. Now the humans could keep warm in the winter, barbecue their food in the summer and paint the cave walls, way past their bedtime.
The world of humans changed in a very big way.
We are at that point in history AGAIN.
Only this time the rules are different.
The gift we are missing is creativity.
And far from waiting to receive it from the Gods, we have to realize that it is inside us and ‘the Gods’ are waiting to receive it from us.
It’s a crazy paradox. We are the Gods we have been waiting for. We have the power to change this crazy world we’ve co-created. But it takes all of us to wake up, leave the safety zone of our computer screens, discover our gifts, and give them to a hungry world.
There’s no shortage of food. There’s just a distribution problem – which is just a shortage of creativity
There’s no shortage of money. There’s just a distribution problem ($150 million for Prometheus and pocket change for the arts and live theatre)
The theme this year for Burning Man is Cargo Cult. In honour of the indigenous tribes who sit and keep vigil, waiting for the White Man from the sky to bestow his gifts of tinned spam. We also, should take this time to burn our false Gods.
We need to find what we love.
Fan the flames.
Feel the burn.
Then we can all collectively…
Burn the Man.