Sunday, October 12, 2008


Seven ages of man was the theme of the Burning Man festival 2001, taken from Shakespeare's text on development of mankind. We went there, my Noosphere-friend Thom and I, and saw all the seven stages as art installations in the desert. We experienced a lot of things, fell a little bit in love and had a lot of fun that you can read about in this blog underneath.

We returned to LA after the night of the burn. We woke up in his beautiful Sierra Madre village outside Los Angeles by a phone call in the morning on September 11. It sounded as if the whole world was on fire.

Everything changed within a few seconds. For some days it felt like it really was a War on America, like the headlines on the news kept repeating and repeating, 24 hours a day.

That episode turned our trip to Nevada into some kind of strange story. An out-of-the-world experience. It also changed our relationship. The whole world was changing, and a new dawn of something very different was rising before our eyes.

There are books written about 9/11. I will not comment any on that here, but it took me 12 days to get a flight ticket and to be able to return back to Europe from the chaotic madness in the US.

Now, seven years later, - and maybe seven ages later, Mother Earth faces a new world financial and political crisis, but the globe still turns.


I wonder what will happen to our world? I wonder what will happen to the festival Burning Man? And what will happen to our wonderful earth when the ice in the Arctic melts down, our climate changes and the world's economy is collapsing? 

I have no answers, and feel that I can do so little. Just watch and think and wonder...and write about it. I can join Earth Hour and change my eating habbits, every day to come. And a few more things, but do they really count? I wonder. 

But I will always remember our wonderful trip to Black Rock City in the Nevada desert, way back in 2001.

It was the nicest trip of my life. And I still remember every bit of it like the dream that it was, and will always be.

The night of the burn, 2001

Then came the night of the burn.

As I write this blog, seven years later, it still seems like a weird and strange experience.
Something 'out of this world'.

And very soon, it became even more strange.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The clean environment

Burning Man and Black Rock City are special events in all kinds of ways. Every year, tens of thousands of participants gather to create this huge Black Rock City in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, dedicated to self-expression, self-reliance, and art as the center of community.
They leave one week later, having left no trace. In the 10 Principles of Burning Man they put it like this:

Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities whenever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavour, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

We brought with us everything we needed for the stay when we came, food, vine, water, and a place to sleep. We brought all our garbage out of the desert when we left. When we stayed in Black Rock city, we carried with us small metal boxes in our pockets to use as ashtrays, as we did not want to leave the ash or filters from the sigarettes. Maybe it sounds silly. But nothing was thrown on the ground.

The playa was really looking great, there was not much paper or other left-overs seen on the ground anywhere. The toilets were clean. I have never seen a festival like this one, and I was truly amazed.

What about our world? Should we start treating the rest of the planet the same careful way?

The Passage

I'll take you back to the Café tent, to that day when I was resting alone, waiting for Thom, who was standing in a cue in order to buy us some chai. As I told you before, a Cuban businessman and his young male secretary sat down and asked for company. After the presentation where I told them that Thom and I met on the web, he asked me very frankly the one and only question he found interesting:

- How did he make the passage?
- Which passage, I asked, rather surpriced.
- The passage from the airport to the bed, said he.

Well, how do one treat men like that? I have no idea, but I found it rather amusing that he was so outspoken. I like to tease, so I asked Mr. Cuba with my biggest smile:

- Well, my friend, since you tell me you have a Swedish wife (which I truly doubted), why are you so sure we did it in bed?
- Oh, you Scandinavians are so sofisticated, he quickly replied.
- But how did he do it? Did he talk you into sex? Did he wait untill the evening came or did he throw himself onto you in the same moment you came home to his place? What was he like? And how was this important passage like? Pleasent? Funny? Elegant?

Looking at the definition of the word, I find out that passage has many different meanings:


a way of exit or entrance : a road, path, channel, or course by which something passes
a corridor or lobby giving access to the different rooms or parts of a building or apartment

the action or process of passing from one place, condition, or stage to another
a right, liberty, or permission to pass

something that takes place between two persons mutually

I still found the situaton rather amusing.

- Why is this passage so interesting to you, and what makes you think I will tell you anything about our relationship?
- For a man it is important to know how other men are dealing with this very important knowledge of life, he said. And he looked very honest and right forward at me, as if he was asking for a recipe of some kind.

I laughed.

- First of all, Thom is a real gentleman, I said, - unlike a lot of other men I have met.
- Yes?
- We are friends. He did not do anything at all.

At that very moment Thom came back and my Cuban friend and his young companion turned to him and said hallo. A few polite questions followed:

- Was it true that we met on the Internet? Did Thom like this festival? etc.

Thom answered in a short manner, and the two men rose up in order to leave. Mr. Cuba smiled and grabbed Thom's hand to say goodbye:

- You have found yourself a blond and beautiful companion, - but she is much to intelligent for me. Good luck!

They left and Thom sat down. We had some of the nice hot chai, richly flavoured with sugar and milk.

- He wanted to know how you managed the passage from the airport to the bed, I told him with a smile.
- And did you tell him? Thom said.
- No, I never got that far, I replied.

We both started laughing out loud.

- Would you have told him about any interesting passage if I did not turn up here right now?

Thom was smiling as he asked.

- I don't think so. I don't think I would tell that kind of story to anybody. Exept maybe one day if I write a novel about us, I said with a smile.

When we later talked about Mr. Cuba, whom we never met again, Thom said he thought they were out to offer us money in order to watch us having sex.

- What makes you think that, I asked.
- He looked like such a guy. What else would a man like him want to be here for? He obviously found you blond, sexy and attractive, but was scared by your intelligent answers and the fact that he never got any insight about that dammed passage he wanted you to tell him about...

- What makes men think about sex all the time, I asked politely.
- I don't really know, Thom said with a smile. - Maybe because it is so fuckin' good?

The Swinging Neighbourhood

Our next door-neighbours in the camping ground were a couple from Sacramento. After our arrival we had a meal at their place and some nice talking about Burning Man. They were there for the year in order to have some fun, as they said. I remember her comment as she saw the viking silver rune around my neck. - This is a real pagan festival, she said, and I had to look up the word in my dictionary.

Pagan is hedning in Norwegian, and something not very Christian, I understood. The rune I carried was the Algiz rune, and I had given Thom the Anzus rune as a gift and a protection for this journey.

Anzus is revealing message or insight, communication. Signals, inspiration, enthusiasm, speech, true vision, power of words and naming. Blessings, the taking of advice. Good health, harmony, truth, wisdom. Odin who gave name to this rune, is a mighty, but duplicitous god. He always has his own agenda.

If you want to learn more about runes, here is a link for you. And if you want a free rune reading you are welcome. I have always enjoyed things like theese, the I Ching, the Tarot cards and the runes, even if I am not a true believer.

Let's call our neighbours Bob and Anna. They were nice people in their 50'ies, and not really the kind of folks I had expected to find in a festival like this. We said goodbye after a couple of hours and went for a walk to look at the camp.

Back in our van, the same evening, Thom asked me if I had recognized the question in the air, that afternoon. I had not.
- I think they asked us if we wanted to change partners, Thom said.
- Are you kidding, I said, - I never heard that.
- They come from Sacramento, from a really swinging neighbourhood, he replied.
Swinging neighbourhood is something I vaguely remember from reading Couples of John Updike sometimes in my youth. This is what Wikipedia says about the book:

Couples is a 1968 novel by John Updike which focuses on a promiscuous circle of married friends in the fictional Boston suburb of Tarbox. Much of the novel concerns the efforts of its characters to balance the pressures of Protestant sexual mores against increasingly flexible American attitudes toward sex in the 1960s. The book suggests that this relaxation may have been driven by the development of birth control and the opportunity to enjoy what one character refers to as "the post-pill paradise."

Its publication created a mild scandal and elicited a cover story in TIME magazine.

Well, then, I was not really flattered. And my answer would in any case be no. I had not gone to Nevada with a totally stranger to change him into something even more strange. C'm on! But we had a great laugh about it.

I simply loved it. Staying in the van with an open door, looking at the camp out there, seeing all the people, beeing there with a great guy like Thom with whom I could talk about everything. And most of all:

Beeing far away from the rest of the world, my sons, my work, the silly Norwegian newpapers, everything. I loved that he had invited me to come over and I loved being there. It all felt like a hot and exciting paradise. I was looking forward to the night of the burn. I did not want to go home. I never wanted this fairytail to end. Never ever.