December 21st, 2018
Superstition Wilderness, Arizona
Stormy rain all day yesterday and today. Good time to look again at some of my favorite images of some of my favorite places—like the Arizona desert. I have been (re)reading Belden Lane's The Solace of Fierce Landscapes. He wrote there: "Wild places have always tantalized the human imagination even as they unnerve. Vast and indifferent landscapes . . . have a way of disarming one by their austere beauty. In the eyes of poet and mystic, they become bearers of a forgotten yet insistent truth . . . Mountain and desert territory connects people symbolically, if not literally, to places of ascent (or places of threatening expanse). They remind them of things they would rather forget, taking them to edges from which the human psyche normally recoils."
Even in this brief excerpt, Lane shows us the paradoxes and contradictions of such places. And he argues (and I agree) that what they teach us a proper sense of proportion of our place in the world—they are wholly indifferent to our existence, much less wants and desires. While they help us to realize that we are part of a whole, complex and beautiful, they also help us achieve an appropriate humility. We are a part, yes, but only a very small, and not very significant part of the whole. But they at the same time draw us into and help us see just how really magnificent that whole is.
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