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153 - Burning Man VR x IRL with Caveat Magister, Naomi Most, and Raven Mitch Mignano

Ep. 153

This week we bring together Burning Man’s resident philosopher Caveat Magister (the author of The Scene That Became Cities, from Penguin Random House) together with anarchist community organizer Naomi Most of Noisebridge and Playa trickster historian Mitch Mignano for a conversation about the festival’s uneasy but remarkable transition into virtuality — and how holdouts worldwide persisted in “IRL” celebrations that preserved the face-to-face community and presence Burning Man cannot yet replicate online.

This discussion was a total treat, and covered everything from complex systems and the evolution of the city to the new and strange ontologies emerging in the blue light of our screen-bound era.


• Was Burning Man always just a physicalized version of the World Wide Web? Or is its power and uniqueness in precisely how it ISN’T?

• Is Burning Man a kind of virtual reality already, or — like VR — just a not-entirely-successful effort to screen out the world that creates it?

• What is the value of culture for culture’s sake, and why should we protect the efforts for it?

• Is Black Rock City pointless, or is it an engine for teaching Applied Existentialism…or both, and more?

• What happened at the in-person Burning Man(s) this year, when people still decided they would gather during a pandemic?


This episode is dedicated to the memory of James Oroc.


Writing and videos we mention in this episode:

*** The Case of the Missing Man by Caveat Magister (Read the whole series!) ***

Sand Talk by Tyson Yunkaporta

The Garden of Forking Memes by Aaron Z. Lewis

William Irwin Thompson in 1975 x Burning Man 2013 Through Google Glass [video]

Transformational Festivals are a Symptom of Dissociation by MG

Giving Into Astonishment: Scenes from Burning Man’s American Dream by MG


If you believe in the value of this show and want to see it thrive, please send your friends to this page and encourage them to support Future Fossils on Patreon. Patrons gain access to over twenty secret episodes, unreleased music, our book club, and whatever else spills out of my overactive imagination. We’d love to have you in our thriving little Discord server, if you’re interested in meeting other members of our awesome scene. And if you’re up for helping edit Future Fossils Podcast transcripts, you’re my hero! Please drop me a line at futurefossilspodcast@gmail.com.


Intro music in this episode is “Valles Marineris” from my Martian Arts EP. Outro music is an early mix of “You Don’t Have To Move,” from my forthcoming/in-progress album The Age of Reunion.


Dig deeper into these related Future Fossils episodes:

25 – DADARA on Art, Virtual Realities, and Flow States

31 – Mitch Altman of Noisebridge on Hacking Life for Fun & Profit

41 – Hannah Faith Yata on Art, Wilderness, and Rebellion

55 – “Creativity and Catastrophe” at Palenque Norte, Burning Man 2017

61 – Jamaica Stevens on Crisis, Rebirth, and Transformation

71 – JF Martel on Sequels & Simulacra

76 – “Technology as Psychedelic Parenting” at Palenque Norte, Burning Man 2017

96 – Malena Grosz on Community-Led Party Culture vs. Corporate “Nightlife”

100 – The Teafaerie on DMT, Transhumanism, and What To Do With All of God’s Attention 


Enjoy and thanks for listening!

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Ep. 187
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Ep. 185
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