From the journals...autumn 2014

23 September at Green River, Wyoming

"Underfoot the dried balsamroot spoke with a tabernacle of voices that drifted on the wind (or did they become wind?) uphill and then farther out beyond where the ear could not follow. A word might rise whole from the desiccated din before vanishing. A man could go mad in a field of this stuff not knowing if the voices were his own or those he wanted to hear, or those of someone no longer among the ranks of the living."

30 September at Dalton Wash, Utah

"First morning at the yurt. Coyote song. There's been a tremendous amount of rain here, the roads are very rough. We had to leave the Civic out by the road. The heat shield on the Subaru was ripped off last night when I had to punch it to get through the wash. The desert teaches you to make do. It it rains so hard the car gets stuck you grab a piece of lumber at hand and get the car unstuck. So here we are...

After deciding that we no longer wanted to be in civilized America, we've come to a yurt near Zion to spend the winter. The land is owned by our friend, the wind sculptor, though I doubt he would want to be called that. His family has old Utah roots, some distant man was a president of the LDS church, a position somewhat more important than the governor in this state. One thing about Utah that I've come to understand - the lands are so ridiculously varied it staggers my mind to think of it all. There are the high alpine summits of the Uintah and the Wasatch of course, and also of the Henries and the Pine Valley and the LaSalles and the Abajos; but there's this, a vast open country of red desert, sandstone cliffs shaped, it seems, by more than water, unless water has intention. 

The yurt is thirty feet in diameter, set back in a rincon well off the main road backed by 300 foot Moenkopi and Shinarump cliffs still very much in the habit of sloughing off large chunks in freeze-thaw cycles. We have solar power and a water catchment system - two three hundred gallon tanks and a hot tub (solar too). You have to want to be here but if you meet the land halfway, or just somewhere out in the middle, it'll reciprocate. 

I could no longer take life in the city. It's like being on life-support. It's lie-support. To work the most beautiful hours of your life in a menial job (and really, what's not menial if you have to do it in exchange for money?) so that you can merely get up to do it again day after day. So, while I write on the deck naked in the sun, Sarah is inside making the yurt our home. This division of labor always strikes me as interesting - we do it without thinking about it.

Canyon wrens are singing their descending chromatics, and a red-tailed hawk just landed on a juniper. Somewhere, still peeling out of Las Vegas a jetliner approaches cruising altitude. At least one study has confirmed that jet traffic impacts owls as they hunt at night. The owl of Athena, wide eyes for the dark, huge eyes for wisdom, Athene noctua. Wisdom extinguished by passing sub-sonic metal Archons. Sophia then is a state of being. To be here is to confront the demiurge and his minions, to create the world anew in our own fashion, which is to say, to make the world our own."

What is fascinating to me about these entries is the sense that they were written by another person, and yet I know it could have been no other. That I have relocated to a city after writing those words is heartbreaking. I am comforted by two examples: John Muir who always came back to the city despite his intense dislike of it and the tradition of Ancient Chinese hermits who spent years toiling in dangerous political situations in order to retire at an early age to the mountains. The current political situation is not so far off from the death throes of the T'ang Dynasty in which the greatest poetics in world history were written. Our culture will admit no such excellence though; we live in an age when the rational consciousness is far too psychotic in aspect to allow lasting art.

 At sundown, the sky bellying out in ochre, lavender, & umber - on the San Rafael river

At sundown, the sky bellying out in ochre, lavender, & umber - on the San Rafael river