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Radical Ritual: How Burning Man Changed the World

Radical Ritual: How Burning Man Changed the World

by Neil Shister


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"Neil Shister's book skillfully traces the evolution of Burning Man and provides rare insights into how this cultural phenomenon is changing the world." —Michael Mikel, founding board member of the Burning Man Project

Written from Neil Shister’s perspective as a journalist, student of American culture, and six-time participant in Burning Man, Radical Ritual presents the event as vitally, historically important. Shister contends that Burning Man is a significant player in the avant-garde, forging new social paradigms as liberal democracy unravels. Burning Man’s contribution to this new order is postmodern, a fusion of sixties humanism with state-of-the-art Silicon Valley wizardry.

Shister is not alone in his opinion. In 2018, the Smithsonian dedicated its entire Renwick Gallery, located next door to the White House, to an exhibition of Burning Man art and culture. The festival intertwines conservative and progressive ideas. On one hand it is a celebration of self-reliance, personal accountability, and individual freedom; on the other hand it is based on strong values of inclusion, consensual decision making, and centered, collaborative endeavor.

In a wonderful mix of narrative storytelling and reportage, Radical Ritual discusses how Burning Man has impacted the art world, disaster relief, urban renewal, the utilization of renewable energy, and even the corporate governance of Google. The story concludes with the sudden death in April 2018 of Larry Harvey, now renowned as the philosophical epicenter of the movement.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781640093904
Publisher: Catapult
Publication date: 07/14/2020
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 643,208
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Neil Shister has been a correspondent with Time, television critic for the Miami Herald, and editor of Atlanta magazine. He's taught at Hampshire College, Boston University, and The George Washington University. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Côte d'Ivoire (1968–1970). He lives in Washington, D.C. with wife, Cait, and son, William.

Table of Contents

Part I: In the Beginning

Chapter 1: The Creation Myth

Chapter 2: Gravitational Waves

Chapter 3: "A New Moment to Gather"

Part II: Chaos and Control: The Burning Man Experience

Chapter 4: One Man's Burn

Chapter 5: "On Our Best Days We're Finders"

Part III: Burning Man's Utopian Vision

Chapter 7: Art as a Trojan Horse

Chapter 8: Re-Sourcing Civic Engagement

Chapter 9: "All That Is Fixed and Fundamental In Human Nature"

Epilogue: Scarcity and Abundance

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