Going there was such a trip. Arriving was fascinating. I just loved it. It was a real camp in the desert of Nevada, and it seemed all well organised and friendly. We brought with us everything needed for five days stay in the desert, - food and water, all well planned before we left LA. One of the rules in the Black Rock city is that you cannot buy or sell anything there, except for tea and coffee in the huge tent in the city center. The first thing we did was to park the car and go looking for the Burning Man platform in the center of the playa. The man was tall, built of wood and visible from distance, even if it was a small sandstorm blowing and rather dusty in the air. We had to wear a dust mask, tight sun glasses and tie some cloth around our heads to avoid sun and sand. We looked like real desert beduins, but it was needed. I was amazed to see how well organized the place was, and I liked the consept: You should not throw anything on the ground, but take care of your litter and make the place look like untouched when the festival is over. Great idea! This year's theme was the Seven Ages of Man, and the desert was full of art installations focusing on this theme. Later I will put out more pictures from the installations, some of them were enormous - and I kept thinking: How did they manage to take all this stuff into the desert? And how much time did they use to organize this camp? They said we were around 25 000 people camping in Black Rock city, and the art installations were focusing on the 7 ages of human life: The Cradle, The Play Station, The Chapel, The Coliseum, The Temple of Wisdom, The Maze and The Mausoleum. All taken from William Shakespeares text, As You Like It:
We started to write to each other. Not only about music or litterature, but about our lives.
I learned that it was possible to laugh and cry in front of my computer, just because of the messages he sent to me. We kept on talking for a long time before things evolved into serious business. There is a timegap of 9 hrs between us, Norway and west coast US, so it was not always easy to be online at the same time.
We talked in the morning before I went to work, that is late night LA, - and then in my afternoon hours when the morning sun rises over California. Sometimes we talked around 3 at night, at my place, when he came back from work.
- You have an interesting vibe here on the wire, he said one day. Oh yes. I felt that interesting vibe, too.
Not long after this talk, we decided to meet in real life. But it took a few months before we managed to find out where and how. When Noosphere suggested some kind of art festival somewhere in the Nevada desert, I accepted immediately. But I had no idea about where we were going. No idea at all.
We both loved the Chilean writer Pablo Neruda. I had been singing Canto General with my choir in my younger days, he read the poems.
Here is a taste from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.
Full woman, flesh-apple, hot moon, thick smell of seaweed, mud and light in masquerade, what secret clarity opens through your columns?
What ancient night does a man touch with his senses? Oh, love is a journey with water and stars, with drowning air and storms of flour; love is a clash of lightnings, two bodies subdued by one honey.
Kiss by kiss I travel your little infinity, your borders, your rivers, your tiny villages; and a genital fire - transformed, delicious- slips through the narrow roadways of blood till it pours itself, quick, like a night carnation, till it is: and is nothing, in shadow, and flimmer of light.
The LA guy had Noosphere as his nickname. I had to find out what it meant, and I think we have to sort that out, before I start my long journey.
The name Teilhard de Chardin soon appeared, connected to the name of the noosphere. And one of his statemnets were that " - each one of us is perforce linked by all the material organic and psychic strands of his being to all that surrounds him". Interesting, isn't it?
'Somewhere under all the commercial frenzy, in small rooms above garages, and bedroom corner offices, and laptops on airplanes, a new sphere is being created, a shared sphere of thought and creation and mind, and not just as abstract theory, not at the bandwidth of the printing press, but an instantly accessible, ever-present sphere of meme and dialectic. Teilhard de Chardin called this the Noosphere, and he would be pleased at our Net, I think.' Noosphere wrote this to me on the 7. of February, 2001.
In Wikipedia it says: The noosphere can be seen as the sphere of human thought being derived from the Greek νους - meaning "mind" in the style of atmosphere and biosphere.
And more: The word is also sometimes used to refer to a transhuman "consciousness" emerging from the interactions of human minds. This is the view proposed by the theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who added that the noosphere is evolving towards an ever greater integration.
We were writing to each other without ever having seen each other. It took quite some time before we exchanged pictures. That was not really important for any of us. But we soon saw some common interests in litterature and music which made it very easy to talk.
We exchanged some of the things that we had read, things that felt important in our lives. Like learning to know the Mexican poet Octavio Paz:
CARTA DE CREENCIA CANTATA
Between night and day Is an unclear area. It is not light, not shadow: It is time.
An hour, a pause of insecurity, A darkening page, A page where I slowly Write these words. Evening
A fire eating itself. Day turns and looses its leaves. A dark flood removing the borders of all things. Strong and soft
It tears away everything leading to an unknown place. Reality flows away. And I write: I talk to myself - I talk to you. CARTA DE CREENCIA CANTANTA Entre la noche y el día hay un territorio indeciso. No es luz ni sombra: es tiempo.
Hora, pausa precaria, página que se obscurece, página en la que escribo, despacio, estas palabras. La tarde
es una brasa que se consume. El día gira y se deshoja. Lima los confines de las cosas un río obscuro. Terco y suave
las arrastra, no sé adónde. La realidad se aleja. Yo escribo: hablo conmigo - hablo contigo.
The year was 2001. It was a long journey to go by van all the way from LA to Nevada, where the Burning Man Festival is held in the beginnning of September every year. This is a very special event! My journey was even longer: I came all the way from Northern Norway in order to go there...
I sat writing late one night, when a message from the ICQ dropped down in front of me, asking for an ice hotel somewhere near to my place, which is Tromsø, Northern Norway. I checked the sender, a guy from somewhere near Pasadena, LA.
Who is this, I thought. - An American who does not know how to use a search engine?
This will, in due time, become a novel about a noosphere man who took me to a nowhere land called Black Rock City, way back in that very special year of 2001.
We met on the web. We talked.
And we met in real life nine months later and drove through California and Nevada on our way to Burning Man, a huge festival in the desert. But the journey took us much further than that. As a matter of fact, it has not ended yet...