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  • Writer's pictureM. Laszlo

The Burning Man: A Note on the Symbolism

Some who read my latest work, On the Threshold, may possibly wonder just what in the world would be the origins of the burning-man figure so central to the story. Without a doubt, the figure very much follows from the famous Burning Man Festival. And honestly, there was no avoiding it. From the fall of 1986 to the spring of 1987, I finished my senior of high school at Miramonte in Orinda, out in Contra Costa County. And back then, we knew about the bonfire rituals taking place on some beach somewhere in the Bay Area—even if none of us were quite old enough to attend. Naturally, our youthful ignorance only made the idea of attending the ritual that much more compelling.

            In addition, what could be more fascinating than the idea of torching a burning-man figure? At once, the concept gripped me. At very nearly the same time, in Mr. Schulman’s Government and International Relations class, we discussed the monks who had immolated themselves so as to protest the war in Vietnam. That, too, rattled me—because until that class discussion, I had never heard of such a thing. Even then, though, the basic idea of a burning man resonated—and in the deepest way, too. Clearly, my unconscious mind knew that there must be something of greatest meaning in the idea. And even if it took a lifetime to figure it all out, that was something worth doing. To grasp the meaning of the symbol would be on par with any of the most heartfelt epiphanies a human being might have. I just knew this!

            Ultimately, On the Threshold lays the secret bare. My book explains just why the burning man resonates and must resonate so deeply in the human psyche. In my book, too, the people who come to grasp the meaning immediately establish a friendly, inclusive intellectual/spiritual movement by which to share their thoughts and ideas with one another. Obviously, the Ten Principles of Burning Man clearly influenced all of that.

            In the interest of full disclosure, I do hope that some Burning-Man attendees will buy my book. In addition, though, it is my hope that people won’t have to buy the book. What an honor it would be if my work were to make people think enough that, in the end, they lend the book to a friend. What an honor it would be if it came to be fairly common to pass the book around.

            Whatever happens, I’ll never cease to be thankful for Burning Man. And it’s a good feeling to know that something so positive helped to inspire the making of a well-intentioned book. Let’s not forget that a well-intentioned book is a wonderful thing in this stressful, chaotic world.

M. Laszlo lives in Bath Township, Ohio. He is an aging recluse, rarely seen nor heard. On the Threshold is his second release and first with Tahlia Newland’s Awesome Independent Authors.

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