Monthly Archives: May 2010

Soullessness

Doctor Science kindly reposted one of my articles over at Daily Kos, and there are more sympathetic and interested commenters there than I would have guessed, or hoped. It seems the campaign to inspire people to preserve desert wildlands has made some headway in the last couple of years.

And yet there are still the expected people who insist on holding to the notion that deserts are worthless by definition:

Deserts are called deserts for a reason -their ecosystems are marginal.

Or even better:

Last summer, I drove across the country[.]

After I got west of the Mississippi River, I found myself for much of the time driving through wasteland. An occasional ranch here and there, but not much else for miles and miles and miles and miles.

The land didn’t appear to be “usable” for anything -not even recreation. It was, frankly, quite ugly.

… There’s a whole lotta empty out there. Until you drive it, you don’t have an appreciation for just how much land is unused and unusable.

That last, of course, brought to mind Ed Abbey’s fabled quote from Desert Solitaire:

In the first place you can’t see anything from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you’ll see something, maybe.

… as well as a line from Terry Tempest Williams’ Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, that I had coincidentally found and posted as a Facebook status update just yesterday:

These wildlands are alive. When one of us says, ‘Look, there’s nothing out there,’ what we are really saying is ‘I cannot see.’

But really, I think the most appropriate response — if I’m to sling quotes rather than write my own words — is this passage of Williams’ from a few pages later in Red. The words — as well as the epigram above — come originally from testimony Williams gave to Congress on a bill affecting wilderness in Southern Utah.

Mr. Chairman, if you know wilderness in the way you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate. We must ask ourselves as Americans, “Can we really survive the worship of our own destructiveness?” We do not exist in isolation. Our sense of community and compassionate intelligence must be extended to all life-forms, plants, animals, rocks, rivers, and human beings. This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.

Senate Bill 884 falls desperately short of these ideals.

Who can say how much nature can be destroyed without consequence? Who can say how much land can be used for extractive purposes until it is rendered barren forever? And who can say what the human spirit will be crying out for one hundred years from now? Two hundred years from now?

We fool ourselves if we can gauge the worth of a piece of land by driving past it — or by discussing it via internet from the comfort of our desk chairs. We fool ourselves if we think our welfare is not irrevocably tied to that of the tortoise, the bighorn, the Mojave milkweed.

But beyond that, even if we could live without the desert wildernesses we’d so blithely pave to generate the power to run our blowdryers, there are those of us who would fight the destruction of that desert. It is the body of our beloved. You could live without your sweetheart, your mother, your sons and daughters. The world would go on were they to be tortured, held captive or enslaved. But would you? Would you engage in cost-benefit calculations over the commercial value of your loved ones’ skin and sinew, tell yourself that there were plenty of people left in the world to love?

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A very generous review

Elizabeth Eslami has written an extraordinarily generous review of Walking With Zeke.

Just the one line about Ed Abbey, Rick Bass and Barry Lopez will I think keep me grinning for the next week or so:

He’s a less prickly Ed Abbey, a tougher Rick Bass, a Barry Lopez with humor.

I am also a Mary Austin with back hair, but Liz wisely left that part out.

The only problem is, I’m currently reading Liz’s Bone Worship and now any review I write, which will necessarily be raving because I’m enjoying it so much, may seem to the more cynical like it’s some sort of quid pro quo. Oh, well, fuck ‘em if they can’t handle sincere admiration.

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Systems Analysis (a sonnet)

There is no natural taxonomy
that is internally consistent, no
consistent organizing scheme that fits
the world that is. All of your clever rules,
all of the frameworks on which you hang
your understanding of this fractal world
fall short, and do so unpredictably.
Set down a rule and life will counter it.
Some snakes have legs. Mushrooms are animals.
Heat makes the desert cold. As soon as you
pin down a thing, it moves, resists the box
you’ve placed it in, and all your bright theories
regarding the inevitable shape
of this bright universe break into shards.

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Coyote Crossing cross news

Looks like someone didn’t get the memo about the Mojave Cross being a non-sectarian, secular, Supreme-Court-says-it’s-constitutional-cause-it’s-not-religious war memorial:

Why all the fuss over a war memorial cross?

Why would those who choose not to believe in Jesus Christ, the Bible, the Gospel of Christ, and the message of the Cross be so hostile towards those who do believe?

Why does the existence of a cross at a war memorial, which had been there for 75? years, bother them so much that they have to fight tooth and nail to get it down?

The Bible tells us why:

1Cr 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

When a person wants to reject the power of God, it is only fitting for them, in their unrepentant mindset, to also reject the message of the cross. Those who think that the cross of Christ is ‘foolishness’ still must have the agonizing feeling within their hearts, minds, and souls that they are perishing -both physically and spiritually. It is as though they have a void in their lives that can’t be filled in any other way. It is the vacuum of the soul that can only be filled through the Gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

I just did a routine autodiagnostic, checking my heart, mind and soul for agonizing feelings, voids and vacuums. I got a “not found” error for my soul that I’ll have to explore further, but the only thing I found was a certain exasperation at the fact that some goddamn Jesus-humping yahoos drilled yet another set of holes into Sunrise Rock in order to put up an illegal replacement cross. 

The stigmata-related irony does provoke a reluctant smirk from me, I have to admit. Still, it’s pretty much what I’d feared: the Christians are set to avenge this imagined slight to their imagined god, and a place I love pays the price for their deluded anger.

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Coyote Crossing admin news

1) I’ve snagged a new domain for use in short URL type twittery things. It’s http://coyot.es. I like it a lot. In fact, I like it so much I might at some point in coming weeks decide to phase out faultline.org as the offishul URL of this blog and keep it as a backdoor kind of thing so that legacy links to my older, important and intelligent social commentary and opinion still work. Also, Ron’s blog would look weird at http://toad.coyot.es. Still, faultline.org is a bit of a holdover from a project a decade ago, and while it’s euphonious it isn’t all that relevant to what I’m doing now.

I wonder if euphonio.us is available.

B) Did you know Coyote Crossing has a discussion forum? Coyote Crossing has a discussion forum. No one’s used it for a couple years since I turned comments on on the blog — I don’t remember why I had them off in the first place — but it’s still there. I just stuck my head in there and the coffee’s still warm and there are no cobwebs. One Spyder, but no cobwebs. Anyway, it’s paid for, so if you have an idea or a question or some other thing that doesn’t quite fit in the comment threads here, have at it. I’ll get a notification when you post, and at the very least I’ll talk to you.