Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.

PHB

My photo
Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Kit Carson, Anne Carson, & Taos

                               on the road, Eagle Nest, N.M. 
Drove to Taos. The town was crowded. Like all famous places, it is really a complicated ghost of itself. If you're in the wrong mood, Taos is monstrous...but it's  idiotic to pass judgement a town based on 24 hrs. Maybe to pass judgement, period.  I used to resent visitors complaining about how "commercial" Banff town was. (It's a world famous tourist town--did you really expect it to be holding onto some version of purity just for you?) The Northern New Mexico adobe way of building, which is functional, textured and basic in original form, gets  nauseating when faked, then applied over and over to trophy homes, motels, gift shops, etc.
But. The mountains are there, stoic. And the light changes a lot. Dynamic, characterful light. Aspens were flaming yellow. What is it that we do in US and Canada to famous towns that damages them so severely? The answer: a lot of things. The Dutch are better at letting towns and cities hold on to individual characters.    Sometimes I wish people wouldn't travel so much (what a hypocrite!) Stay home, dig in, pay attention.
          I read Blood and Thunder, Hampton Sides' book about Kit Carson, when I was in Texas a few years ago, and brought it along to Taos. Kit Carson is a complicated figure. It's hard not to respect him even though sometimes he allowed other people do his thinking for him. The Navajos have a right to resent him. (He was more or less illiterate, and may not have known how much smarter he was than some of the dumbkopfs he worked for). Kit would have lasted about a minute in Taos, as it is now, before lighting out--probably for the same 'territory' Huckleberry Finn was headed for, when last seen.
         Coming across Kit Carson's tombstone in the buzz of Taos-town on a busy Saturday reminded me of Anne Carson's poem, which I post by permission here. Maybe she is his great-great-granddaughter, after all.


Strange Hour (Outcast Hour)

3 a.m. cool palace roar of Oakland night.
Not even a siren then a siren far off.
Train passed a while ago now nothing.

Bare lightbulb in garage across the street who left it on.

Every sentence should contain a fact at least.
No one but myself ever seems to set foot on this balcony
strange to say.
Undertone of hatred I cannot eliminate
From my feelings of friendship for most people.
Clear at this hour.

                                                   -A.C.



1 comment: