In going through the Accuracy Third inbox, I came across an email from someone wanting to buy an ad on our show for a forthcoming podcast. Now y’all know why we don’t run ads on A3rd, and I took the time to explain Decommodification to this person, though I suspect that this email came from someone who had never listened to us, but just found us in a list of podcasts with >x number of subscribers (THANK YOU, HOLY SHIT THANK YOU!) I doubt my response will even be read, but it put me in mind of a conversation I had with Beth a couple of days ago.
We were in New York City exploring, and we came to the World Trade Center Transit Hub, a building called The Oculus. It was an amazingly cool building, (not as cool as the Oculus at Center Camp Cafe, but I’m biased,) designed to look like a dove taking flight. We were blown away by the structure from the outside and wondered what it could be; it was so unlike all of the skyscrapers surrounding it, and, at just a few stories tall, stood in sharp contrast to One World Trade Center, which was right next door. We entered the building, and despite being blown away by the magnificence of the interior space, were crestfallen to discover that this weird alien nest of a structure housed a Westfield Mall. Bummer!
Beth told me how much she loves architecture, how moved she is by well designed spaces, but how frequently she is disappointed by what these spaces are created to house. The most lovely buildings are so often crafted for the practice of extracting wealth and protecting privilege. Even those built by institutions of ostensibly laudable intent, are tainted by the stink of late stage capitalism. Lovely opera house; can you afford tickets? That's a beautiful research lab; makes great missile guidance systems doesn’t it?
Here again, we see another reason why the experience of Burning Man can be so radically affecting. At the Burn, we get to experience architecture for its own sake. People with immense talent create unbelievably stunning buildings, and then burn them to the ground. The opportunity to make something wonderful, and share it with no expectation of material benefit to yourself is the beating heart of art. That we live in a world that values nothing without a price tag attached is a wound we must all come to terms with - until the revolution - but this thing we do for one another every summer, where we mutually choose to exist in an alternative space where making and doing is it’s own reward, can go a long way towards easing that injury.