burning man 2001
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the little book of bad ideas

Our Burning Man 2001 Theme Camp featured featured the giant skeleton of Mr. Bones, a greedy gold minor who paid with his life for his bad ideas. In his abandoned Mind Shaft, participants were invited to undo bad ideas from their past. Over a thousand people wrote up and expiated past mistakes, which were posted in our Book of Bad Ideas, which is posted below.

This year, the Mind Shaft Society will introduce a fascinating new exhibit called Inspiration Island. Read all about it!

Visitors to the Mind Shaft Society exhibit at Burning Man 2001 were invited to expiate their bad ideas through a 3-step process:

  1. write it down
  2. undo it
  3. get stamped

Visitors wrote over 700 bad ideas on index cards, fed them to the Mind Shaft Dragon, and generally expressed genuine relief about their expiations.

What they wrote was posted anonymously in the Big Book of Expiations.

The Big Book was ritually burned at the end of Burning Man, after our anthropological team transcribed its full contents. Please inquire to <really@well.com> to review the full records.

This Little Book of Bad Ideas features a selection of about 400 quotes from the Mind Shaft database. For questions about the Little Book, please contact its editor: <fab@handtap.com>.

Download the Little Book of Bad Ideas, courtesy of the Mind Shaft and its many contributors. (Win Zip Word 116k).

We are very grateful to our guests for sharing their bad ideas for the greater good. Many thanks as well to the gracious organizers of Burning Man, for hosting such a wild and peaceful environment for self-discovery.

For more information, visit The Mind Shaft Society Site


bad ideas

Here are some of the bad ideas we expiated at Burning Man 2001:

causing pain for those i love

losing track of who i am

expecting it all right now

waiting too long to enjoy life

moving across the country for a man

feeling worthless after my love fell in love w/a girl 1/2 my age - wishing them ill

not asking if anything was broken

being too cautious and distrustful of other people

i let fear rule my decisions

had an affair last year - it's over now, but i think i'll tell my husband

not keeping promises & telling lies that hurt

not doing it with the gorgeous tahitian guy who tried to seduce me (i'm a straight guy)

i have an evil mouth - zip it!

coming down for someone else

2 or 3 children i -wish- i had in my life

marrying the shithead

i got together with my best friend's boyfriend more than once

i wish i had expressed my feelings better for vickie

slept with jeff

losing my virginity in every sense of the word, losing my innocence at that time

i never committed suicide

wearing the same socks for two days on the playa

internet for dogs

not graduating high school

traveling to visit someone i was in love with without telling them the reason for my trip before.

not always slowing down to see the sights

being so safe and sane all of the time

peeing in camp (exploding)

setting up our rebar too far apart

not lock your bike

giving my heart away foolishly

procrastination  excessive masturbation

weird winds

nuclear war

closing myself off to others

cuming inside your girlfriend

taking hallucinogens 4 nights in a row

rebar 2 feet deep

pet the foaming dog

buying & chewing nicorettes

i like pirates

getten home

i would like to take back the moment i decided my dad doesn't love me because it has affected my whole being my whole life

not keeping in touch with my grandparents

fucking kevin

didn't learn til now to learn about myself.

kickin dl's ass

tv screen on microwave door

having sex with amanda and cheating on becca

remote control sucks

telling peter off!

drinking way too much on the playa!

forgive boyfriend for cheating, then let boyfriend beat me

keeping it inside

valuing security over freedom

i can't accomplish that which i wish to accomplish

56 chevy purchase



too much butter

trying too many drugs in one night

getting involved w/sleaze


messed around as an infant, w/karine


working under retarded management

i never believe i'm doing my best

voted for bush

drop out of school


hurting the chickens

i thought i had to be wrong

cooking bacon naked

cheap sofa wheels

always being in a hurry to be somewhere else

not being born with a larger penis

being afraid of death & denying life

getting married (both times)

going to indiana: why did i do it?

where's the purple crayon?

waiting for time-challenged people

thinking that i need drugs to do it

used the wrong port-a-potty at burning man


undla at flakke vibe i fremtiyen

not living my truth.  soul sourcing with compromise

telling jennifer that her teeth dragged aug 8, 1983

not trusting my instincts

to expect love to come out of one night of passion

leaving one weenie-head & going to work for another one

to invest - (energy, time, money, love) for too long, and not knowing when to sell

quitting disney was probably a bad idea…

sphincter whistles


yo ho ho thank you nemosiss of child book pirate modils

that i don't think anything is regrettable?

bird food on the playa

staying too long under controlling "good" condescending christians who blackened my soul

dissociate h2o into h and o2 and ignite it in a crowd

to ever doubt i can do what my soul begs for -

wave runners

ships 'r' made '4' sinking whiskey's made four drinking if we were mad of celefaine we'd all get stinking drunk much faster


throw poop off el cap

sex is better than love to survive....

peace and love


crazy rage



to keep sober

giant penis rocket that flies over the playa and sprays glitter

my shoelaces

a big movie screen in the middle of the desert!

to put off my mba

working w/eugene

pogo stick jumping naked

the crabby

jello on a stick

to sleep with the guy w/lynard skynard tattoo

fresnel's ether drag


flesh coloured crayons

i can get where i want to be without hard work

didn't get help for my dad

getting drunk & stoned after 6 months of pure (fun) sobriety

i have always wanted to know the difference between shit & shinola

if a person is not experienced, you might end up with some very unpleasant situations... gum & [pubic] hair don't mix

starbucks  george bush as president  spam  walker texas ranger

honey, i've bought you a stairmaster to lose that pregnancy fat

not making music

going to tcu was a big mistake.  i am happy i am now free of the scene

don't trust a one-armed sailor

let you down

not going further

i married pat, thinking she was the best woman i'd ever met.  i decided to marry her & she turned into a lying, bad person when drunk.  i cannot forgive her!

sex drugs rock n' roll

the mead incident

i love your mom!

i am the incarnation of shiva and i bring you reasons.

letting opportunities of a lifetime pass me by due to artificial boundaries (eg care, peacecorps etc)

i dunno!

love means not chains or expectations

not coming to burning man sooner

every person for whom i have caused sadness

to fuck right now


to lick balls

not saying goodbye

to get the bad idea to start

publishing in 4/6!!

i am less than shit.  i am more than shit.  i make people unhappy.  i can't do it.  she won't want me, she's awesome.

to think too much, drink too much, not act enough, & be too careless

i really wouldn't want dave to die

dragging those chains

losing myself.  those choices last year.  marriage

i wish i'd never left him to begin with...(it's so much harder to get him back)

gave a horse a blow job - my mouth has never recovered

to have (not) pressured my girlfriend for sex before she was ready

not always following my heart

i guess i regret not finishing my degree

making my boss look like a fool in front of his boss

george bush's conception

why am i afraid to commit?

we don't have time to try it out first.  let's just build the shade when we get there

got married once.  got married 2x

do what i want when i want

stone washed jeans

dirty old men

i took a nice good piss in camp disturbia

i can't purge all that keeps me inprisonned in self.

being shy

tax, is a bad idea.


republican tax cut

when i was 10 in girl guides, i poured bacon fat on the fire to get rid of it... bad idea!

that i am above - brighter than, more important than, better looking than - anybody.  we are fighting together.  we are together.

wrong circles unclear

turning on the light so the ranger kicked us out.

working for jerk for too many years

hatred of that which is unknown to you.  fearing uniqueness


i should have saved the guy who went overboard

to alleviate traffic congestion - raise the in-town speed limit by 20 mph.

flammable children's clothes

i am going to take pcp and then spin flaming razor blades

i need a miracle every day! specially -now-

turning my boat away from the rock @ dragon's tooth on klamath

in the winter some people freeze to death & some people ski

not discovering the pleasures of sex earlier

attaching myself to women


working 4 a corporate entity

i just want to be at peace

limiting myself

ted w

love is lost.  there is no caring

not being prepared to demand certain rights

not becoming a medical doctor

biting your own toenails

realizing so much too late

smoking pot in the bathroom (hmmm...maybe that's not -so- bad)

no green on a red day

got into a relationship with a woman with 5 kids, a prolapsed uterus and poor social skills

fearing love

call lee

no dough in my pocket

hoola-hoop while skydiving in a storm naked

starting a vending machine business without thorough thought!

not bringing a bike to burning man

cheat on my boyfriend.  my one true love.  it's a bad idea.

cheating is ok if you don't get caught

letting chris make me believe his evil power is stronger than love

going back to work

if i act cute enough, women will like me.  dum.

to walk through life only to find out that you do not exist.  remember when ever in doubt (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches)

bring a television to burning man! (or get your impression of the burn from one!)

i put the capiscun in th same droor as the same droor as the jockitch cream

that art is worth money!

getting back together w/chris/forgeting why i needed to leave!

i didn't admit i liked jan d. in 5th grade when she said she liked me.

germline gene therapy

don't tap the shoulder of the guy feeding the dragon.

mindy taking mushrooms

hating my parents who love me but hurt me.

doing speed

a chocolate & lettuce sandwich

flying without wings


i wish i never learned to fear

voting wing-nut off the island!

not going to see my dad the day before he died.  i was too scared to see him that way.

that natural toilet issue made from oak leaves.

all the times i criticized and doubted my abilities

marrying because we got pregnant

apologized first

wanting to kill my stepmom

wanting to get tied up & strangled up in safeway

hanging on beyond reason


letting ana go

white castle dim sum


i never say the "c" word

never say the "m" word

never miss the "a" word

that i don't have a tribe, that i'm alone, that i'm not good enough

my need for sex that drives me -crazy-!!

large railbeams swinging through his bedroom at night gnashing teeth...

i never should have taken that job.

making a habit out of addiction, a profession out of sloth, a philosophy out of comfort.

don't steal cookies from the cookie jar!

savant squeemishness perma-shells

i'm never going to find my place in the world

too much not enough

re elect 'w'

the universal concept of "other" (often referred to as they)

forgot spanish

jealousy.  all forms...

being too fucking serious!

trying to tell others what to do

the poor kittens

no guns - just instant death buttons issued to everyone

my fear of death & fear of living

wild turkey all day & all night (no water, just 'turkey' and sunburn your penis, too)

why do we use disposable things and fashions - we are a trash-generating society

how i treated david - let our paths cross again

taking x on no sleep

walking into places that don't exist

unhealthy lovers, relationships, friends, booze

i will one day hurt the one i most love

wanting stuff i don't need

i don't believe anyone should attempt to have sex with golden retriever puppies

saving the world

allowing myself to trip on the idea that maybe everything won't come out ok


not listening to people who love me

not trying because i thought my limitations were more than my assets.

not being straight with people

not there!

i should be perfect, anyone should be perfect

to marry the first person to sleep with me

slept w/chillin janet in tokyo

stop going to burning man

taking work too seriously

my college boyfriend

self-sharpening crayon "ginolassü"

getting so lost on drugs, you lose yourself

getting angry and jealous. i keep thinking about leaving him

running away from your family at brc

packing my dust maker (now everyone is mad at me)

not listen to voices in my head

staying married

falling out of love

quit my job

said bad word about tracy

making bryn take lots of mushrooms, acid & x all at once

getting a penis enlargement

not having a baby already i should have started when i was 30.  moving back to nj.

always being strong and taking care of others w/o taking care of myself as well

judging others & myself

why don't you actually have something inside?

having sex with 10 women

trusting bryan - dickhead

to let go of insecurity and love thyself

not graduating with an aerospace degree in 1992

continue past the end


losing who i was for so long

start drinking at sunrise

letting h get drunk and talk to jackie

to follow the norms and structures of popular culture.  undo the bad idea that i am unworthy...  make room for good ideas!

should have done something about the florida vote, to make sure it was counted

the need to find a new social group in an area i probably don't fit terribly well in... and definitely not wanting to do the singles/bar stuff. 

not having anyone to cuddle with...

confusing my job with my life

make day-glo braille book covers

i was a low-down, no good, rotten thief (of both property and intent)

fighting or disagreeing with my boyfriend

i no longer need to please -all- the people -all- the time

leave my baby

pissing upwind

being a loser

calling the blr ranger an asshole

disposable culture

i worked for a company i didn't believe in, and allowed my values to be compromised

all the men i have loved & they did not love me back

you killed the java cow for this???

never let yourself be set on fire when the nearest water is a lake that is frozen solid.

hot spicie food the day befor b-man

it was insensitive to assume my maths teacher was only a geek

why did i come to burning man with deanna

making bad movies

ate fish that wasn't fresh

the internal combustion engine

let my issues ruin my friendships

leaving her alone

love is sex with lies!

not giving it all away!

to get too serious

come to burning man

think i can get a show together.

i choose to release my bad idea that time doesn't matter; in the name of goodness, truth & security

things i still have and know i shouldn't

kill my parents

being a mother hen

have sex with sheila

let jerry stick his dick in my ass

i didn't call

i wish i didn't pull all the hair on my nipples

tieing my dog to the tow hitch of my friend's car.  i love you rebel

steeling street signs for an art show

false belief that i don't deserve the best

i would like to undo the first time i allowed my spouse to impose things i don't believe on me.  it gave consent to allow it to continue to this day

hurting myself so many times.

to not make peace with bruce before he died

killing myself

not giving myself a fair chance

decapitating chris

camping next to ravers

not taking time for myself instead doing what pum said

to not calm the fuck down!

walking around a frozen lake at noon in april when the top is slushy...i fell in!

thinking too much acting too late

trusting the enthusiastic

stealing cars when i should have taken the bus

bigger is better

to deny insecurity in my life & to go back in time & fix my spelling

corporate sponsorship!

to avoid denise.  period.  no story.  nothing to see.  move along.  go home.

working with anyone who says that they'll handle the business end of things

thinking i'm not pretty enough

to not reach out and surrender my pride

no bad ideas

not having allowed myself to fly.

living on auto pilot

to destroy self respect baby

to put it off till tomorrow for four years

i'm 20 yrs old and i thought it would be a good idea to date my 12 year old neighbor.  her parents didn't like that too much and i spent some time in jail.  now i date older women.


quit racing bikes after a kick ass season in france

getting in art cars at random at burning man - regret regret forget regret

going into business with wendell

fooling around with my new girlfriend where my former girlfriend could see us.

trying to be who i think folks want me to be

george w. bush, highways, killing cable cars, excess packaging, not being completely open w/alon

i can fail

make sodomy illegal

to all the cats i tortured...

to diet perpetually


negatively raising children like pets

sexual and physical abuse

eating too many red jello vodka jigglers

putting a red hot poker in your ass

leave home without adequate protection

it was a bad idea to keep drinking tequila "urp"

the corporate world

being mean, oh so mean, be good & nice

when i last went hiking w/no flashlights

hey how about george w for black rock pres.

smoking cigarettes all damn day while waiting for ice was a bad idea!

giving away my power to unworthy folks.

thinking i could do it all

i let love die

listen to my wife about buying the car from her distant relative

must find inner peace and get laid tonite.

not selling my amd shares when i was up 300k (became 60k losses)

loving & losing julia

it has always been a bad idea to let pride overcome my love, to express anger but not forgiveness and to fill myself with resentment, bitterness & hate.  it has cost me a lot.

let go of what you love.

selling myself short.


i don't know what my problem is - that's the problem

dating an asexual boyfriend for his mind.

that i am unable to have a career i love.

wished my mother dead.  please undo!

shelly's big black cloud

caring about what people are thinking.

lack of trust

not talking with jon.  communication.

deciding to wall everyone out of myself.

to be ill prepared for burningman.  also is bad to regrett my true self and to be emotionally involved with my past.

staying around him after all that's happened.

to loan all that money to family.

to try to hold on to someone who wants to leave.

look for love in all the wrong places.

getting engaged at age 17.

buggering up my last two jobs.

letting go of the wheel to find a screwdriver.



Download The Little Book of Bad Ideas, courtesy of the Mind Shaft and its many contributors. (Win Zip Word 116k)

For questions about the Little Book, please contact its editor: <fab@handtap.com>.

To review the full Mind Shaft Society records, please inquire with its curator: <really@well.com>.


Edited by Fabrice Florin - 10/25/01