Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Scene That Became Cities: What Burning Man Philosophy Can Teach Us about Building Better Communities by Caveat Magister (Benjamin Wachs)

DNF @ p. 82

Those who know me joke that I'm a "forty-year-old woman in a millennial's body," which is probably true. Or, in the words of my family members, who don't mince words, "You're basically a narc." Whereas most of my friends (fellow San Franciscans) adore music festivals and the chance to live the music and have new experiences and dig the community, I am sitting there in horror thinking, "Omg, dirt everywhere, unhygienic conditions, heat with no air conditioning, and pretentious people who think that this version of roughing it gives them some kind of social cred." It's like those hikers who go to places in the middle of nowhere, just so they can Geotag them on Instagram. It's for the cred and the social cache. So, no, you will probably not find me at a music festival. But you won't find me in a bunch of other places, either, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to read about them. I might be a narc who doesn't want to experience these new experiences firsthand, but I still want to read about them and learn about them secondhand. I am a narc, but I am a cultured narc.

THE SCENE THAT BECAME CITIES is really less about Burning Man from a journalistic standpoint and more a collection of dusted-off aphorisms repackaged and rebranded for the armchair philosophy major who wants to go out and party but also feel superior to others while doing it. There's this kind of Ken M. prankster vibe to Caveat Magister, but also a kind of 21st century hippie vibe, too, advertising a kind of co-op, collectivistic, evanescent culture where nothing is permanent, money is secondary, creativity is limitless, and you're just supposed to be a much bigger, more extreme version of yourself; it feels both childish and like a very exclusive club where you have to be this radical to enter, and I found myself very annoyed. It has many of the same problems as Mark Manson's self-help guide, including a marked lack of self-accountability.

I can think of some people this book might appeal to but that person is not me. If you enjoy Burning Man and music festivals, or liked Mark Manson's self-help book and what he stands for, you might very well like this. But if you, too, are a forty-year-old narc trapped in a millennial body, steer clear.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

1 out of 5 stars

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