The First Church of Larry

The Second Admonition of Judith - Letter to the Yahoovians

How can you so glibly trivialize what Larry has done? He's not merely someone who does "nuts and bolts work" on Burning Man, but a visionary who has single-handedly guided this community of ours from the very beginning, and shaped it into what it is today. I think Bruce Sterling captured Larry's unique genius best when he wrote for Wired (a magazine which truly captures the "digerati spirit" which is so crucial to Burning Man): "Larry is a heavy hipster dude. He's beyond mere trendiness. Guys of his ilk can create social trends at will, out of straw, hot air, and attitude. . .I kinda suspect that Larry Harvey could do interesting and terrible things to the soul of '90s America, if he really put his mind to it." Anyone who knows anything about Burning Man knows how true this is.

Now I know that there are a few disgruntled former volunteers who
somehow think that Burning Man was their invention as much as Larry's, but surely you're not giving those losers credence?

Your claim that Larry has gotten famous because he has benefited from a tendency in the media to focus on one person is a bunch of hooey. He has gotten famous because he deserves to have gotten famous. The media are perfectly capable of reporting a social movement without presenting
it as the vision of one person. For example, the media didn't claim that Critical Mass was the result of the vision of one person, nor did they claim that the Haight Ashbury scene was the result of the vision of, say, Chet Helms or Janis Joplin, or any other individual. The media don't have a bias in favor of individuals. If they have a bias at all, it is in favor of big business.

Simply put, the media have covered the social movement which is Burning Man as the vision of Larry Harvey, simply because it IS the vision of Larry Harvey. They don't have an axe to grind: they don't have any ulterior motive in portraying Larry as the guiding spirit of Burning Man. Anyhow, if it wasn't the case that Larry deserved the celebrity he has achieved, don't you think he and Maid Marian would be the first to make sure that all the other people who supposedly contributed to Burning Man were mentioned in the press releases the BM project sends out? Do you really think Larry and Marian would let the media crown Larry as the spiritual founder and leader of our community unless that coronation were justified? If Larry unjustifiably claimed as his own what an entire community had created, he would be nothing more than a selfish sleazeball, exploiting his friends so that he himself could become famous. I don't believe that, and I don't think you do either.

In fact, I wonder if YOU aren't the one who is too beholden to celebrity culture. Sometimes when we watch celebrities I think we identify with them a little too much, as if we somehow shared in their lives. I think this tendency on the part of many people to believe that they are somehow co-creators of Burning Man has a lot to do with this: we see the great media coverage Burning Man and Larry Harvey have gotten and we somehow identify with Larry and imagine that we were creating Burning Man along with him. We imagine we shared his vision, when in fact we were inspired and shaped by it.


So let's give Larry the respect he deserves. This isn't hero worship, or some creepy Jim Jones cult thing, like some of you have suggested, but simply a matter of giving credit where credit is due.


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