Burning Man, Desire, and the Culture of Empire

To a consciousness formed in gentle deciduous lands, the vista is unimaginably bleak: the toxic, colorless void of a Nevada alkali lake bed, a blank white canvas the size of Rhode Island, flat as water and dry as parchment on which there lives nothing visible to the naked eye, remnant of the Pleistocene stretching to a barely visible horizon of tawn and purple mountains. At this moment of the American Empire’s decline, this science fiction setting is home for our premier arts festival, anointed by the Los Angeles Times as the “current hot ticket” for academic study—the landscape of Burning Man.