Beyond Belief: The Cults of Burning Man

Erik Davis at Palenque Norte 2003

     Without Erik Davis' help, the Palenque Norte conversations would not have become a reality. He was the first person we asked to give a presentation at Palenque Norte, and not only did Erik say “Yes!” right away, he even helped us enlist other speakers. So you can imagine our angst when we discovered that the last part of Erik's presentation didn't survive the playa. The good news is that a written version of Erik's presentation did survive ... thanks, of course, to Erik who handed out copies to those who braved the incessant dust storms to hear him in person. In the event Erik posts the text version online somewhere, we will link to it from here also.

Erik and Palenque Norte welcome you to download and listen to Erik's entire presentation, but we do ask that you observe the following copyright notice:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

MP3 Recording of Erik Davis at Palenque Norte 2003
 "Beyond Belief: The Cults of Burning Man"
(Left click to play, right click to download
. . . or subscribe to our PodCasts and get Erik's talk automatically)


Sound bites: "Involuting Burning Man, what I mean by cults . . . How do we talk about Burning Man, a personal interactive experience on the playa, where the sacred may be found at Burning Man . . . Is Burning Man a "sacred" event, getting lost, historical resonances . . . The cult of experience, the ultimate attention economy, experience as a spiritual good . . . Experience vs. dogma in religion, awareness of the constructed nature of our "experience frame" . . . William James as a core ancestor, the spiritual counterculture of the 60s . . . Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, West Coast vs. East Coast psychedelic spirituality, Burning Man as a continuation of the Prankster experiments . . . The vexed question of psychedelic spirituality, the call of transcendence . . . Light technology, the paleo-cybernetic age, analogue vs. digital technology, Fire: the ultimate flicker-tech . . . The changing role of fire at Burning Man . . . The cult of juxtapose, spiritual irony"


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Burning Man 2003 Photo Gallery
[Photos courtesy of Sidney Gillette Bruce Damer, Jon Hanna, Jacob Max Nasim, & Lorenzo]
[more photos]

Erik Davis at Burning Man 2003

Erik Davis speaking at Burning Man 2003 next to a picture of Terence McKenna, whose work provided the inspiration for the Palenque Norte theme camp.

Burning Man 2003 dust

Dust covers the playa during Erik Davis' presentation.

Burning Man 2003 dust

The cill pod where Erik spoke is obscured by another dust storm.

Palenque Norte 2003

Folding beams for the cill pod.

Aetheria Village 2003
Aetheria Village's chill pod becomes a playa landmark.

Pod construction at Burning Man 2003

Pod roofs awaiting some walls to support them.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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