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Waking Dreams at Burning Man 2022: The 3:15 Experiment Rid/tes Again

July 31, 2022

Waking Dreams

This year’s theme for Burning Man is “Waking Dreams.” As Stuart Mangrum, director of Burning Man Project’s Philosophical Center, writes in announcing the 2022 Burning Man theme of Waking Dreams.“After a long hazy blur of pandemic insomnia, unanchored in time and adrift between sleeping and waking, it’s time to start imagining the future again…Whether it’s a dream of artistic expression, a yearning to connect with others in a fractured society, or simply a desire to live a more meaningful and authentic life, Burning Man is the place where dreams can and do come true.”

“Because after all what is Black Rock City if not a collective manifestation of the community’s dreams?” muses Stuart. “That reintegration of dreaming and waking consciousness that fuels surrealism also sounds a lot like how many people describe their Burning Man experience, as a sort of waking dream that can approach a psychedelic state, even without the use of drugs. This reflects not only the profusion of surrealist art on the playa every year, but the environment itself, a stark and otherworldly landscape straight out of a Salvador Dalí canvas.”

“It is a signature aspect of Burning Man culture that we transform our dreams into actions in the world. Not just an inner transformation but an externalization of that vision, bending the arc of reality toward the fantastic and bringing the world along for the ride.”

One form of “waking dream” is the state of hypnogogia or hypnopompia– that place where you are “between sleeps.”

As explained here, in an explanation of the 2022 Black Rock City street names,

Hypnagogia – (Hip-na-GO-gee-a) The experience of “threshold consciousness,” the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep when you may experience hallucinations or lucid dreaming. The opposite, when you wake up, is hypnopompia. 

It is in this state that the 3:15 Experiment Exists — and will be brought to Black Rock City in 2022 in the form of an invitation to participate and as a poetry reading at the end of the experiment on Thursday September 1, at 315pm in the gazebo of the Burning Man Art Installation “Secretly Abandoned Spaces” created by artist Valerie Mallory, and her team. 

“Every abandoned space retains a feeling of what it once was,” writes Valerie Mallory. “Abandoned buildings retain a beauty of that which has been forsaken; it’s the loveliness of disintegration. This piece is about the beauty of loss and decay of a building, a community or of a loved one. Elegance emerges from loss as the world takes back its own. The house becomes a church of ideas that have died and long passed. The cast figures upon the staircase is a theatre, or a play. The interplay of figures tell their own stories. The figures will also be ornate as structures of antiquity. Secretly Abandoned Spaces in a museum of stories that have been lost in antiquity.”

Learn more about Secretly Abandoned Spaces here. Support the project’s GoFundMe here.

Find more events at Secretly Abandoned Spaces here.

Read all about the 3:15 Experiment Rules here or below or on the Burning Man “Where What When”.

On July 31, set your clocks for 3:15am and to participate in the 3:15 Experiment, a writing experiment for poets/people who want to experience writing  in a non-drug induced DIFFERENT state of consciousness, in this case, a between sleeps or hypnopompic/hypnogogic state of consciousness, where you are neither quite asleep or wide awake.

Back Story: In 1993, Poets Lee Ann Brown, Danika Dinsmore, Jen Hofer, Kathleen Large, Myshel Prasad, and Bernadette Mayer all connected at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics Summer Writing Program. Danika was writing her thesis on states of consciousness and the writing process with a focus on Bernadette’s work. She and Bernadette decided to create their own collaborative writing experiment and invited Lee Ann, Jen, Kathleen and Myshel to join in the planning. It was decided they would write each morning at 3:15 AM for the entire month of August in whatever time zone they were located. It was primarily an experiment in states of consciousness and writing, recording what was happening during “3:15 AM mind.”

In 1994, 1996, 1997, and 1998 the collaboration grew in size as they invited other poets to participate. The format changed and they wrote at 3:15 AM in a specified time zone (i.e. 3:15 AM EST would be 12:15 AM PST). This altered slightly the focus of the experiment into writing within a “collective consciousness.” The idea was to discover what connections would be made while writing separately, but together, at the same time for a month while under hypnogogic influences.

There is a sense of camaraderie across time and distance and process.
There is process and idea clapped together, and the reverb off that clap.
Jen Hofer


  • Begin at 3:15 AM on August 1. THAT’S TONIGHT.
  • Continue each day until August 31.
  • You may write any length, style, form, content, voice, rhythm, etc.
  • DO NOT EDIT your work. This is raw stuff, baby. That’s part of the experiment. You are welcome to edit, collage, break apart the poems later for whatever purpose you choose, but please SHARE THE RAW STUFF with us on the website after the experiment.
  • (Optional) Do not read what you have written until the month is over, except to skim the work to make sure everything is legible.
  • TIP: do not use a felt tip pen unless you don’t care about ink stains on your bed. Many a poet has fallen asleep in the middle of writing.
  • If you can help it, don’t even get out of bed! The point is to ride that dream state, that precarious point between sleeping and waking and sleeping.

Read more about the 20+ year history of the 3:15 Experiment here.

Learn more about how to participate in the 3:15 Experiment here–whether you are at Burning Man or traveling or at home!

Read a few 3:15 experiment poems here and  here and here. Or read reviews about my 3:15 Experiment poetry collection here.

Stay tuned for more details! 




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