Three days ago, the Rolling Stones, my grand-son, seven, a born mountain climber, my strong-arm son, thirty-nine (still a child) and I, eighty (retired) went for a short ride to the Canyon of Arches in the state of Utah, near the city of Moab. The State was once famous for a rare form of active and legal polygamy quite unique in the Western World or Christian Civilization, call it how you like. The custom for some mysterious reasons didn’t raise general enthusiasm in spite of its thriving persistence in vast areas of the Muslim world. Life is unfair! The Mormons, under heavy pressure, had to give it up at a certainmoment and became, if urged by senses, regular adulterous bastards like everybody else. The slightly populated large state makes a big part of its income from dead dinosaurs which patronized the area some 100 million years ago from the hyper enormous Titanosaurus, that had to carry its 106 tones unequally distributed along its 40 meters of length to the miniscule, I didn’t deign to look for its name, which was weighting under a pound and was measured in centimeters. They are waiting for you at the Natural History museum of Utah where you can learn that in some manner you are a reptilian by product. The museum itself, conceived by a collective?! (Ennead Architects cum Todd Schliemann) is aesthetically, symbolically and functionally an outstanding creation.
The second big source of cash of the Utah natives are the National Parks sawn by a benevolent Demiurge on their quite drab territory. Not that I care. There are years that I got the tank full of these contraptions, I mean the parks, which are persistently suggesting to people that the world will be more beautiful WITHOUT THEM. Big deal, everybody knows that! How many times didn’t you hear from nice cultured corrects –“we visited that place which was delightfully deprived of TOURISTS”? But let’s go back to the Canyon of Arches which for some personal reasons I ADORE.
If you expect that I will go into the depiction of the gorgeous red and ocher vertical stones walls, stupendous biomorphic forms, among which some embarrassing overt phallic shapes, diversity of vegetation, adventurous little hikes cut for families (child blessed families and intensively dating people are the preferred stock), vivid mineral patinas, mathematically petrified yellowish sand dunes, enormously dramatic views laid especially for compulsive photographers extending from the deserted rock outcrops and ridges to the far away sky scraping, snow covered, peaks of the Lasal mountains, and eventually insist, still me, upon the enthralling sensuous holes, basically oval, huge, medium and small, puncturing irregularly the stone walls and delivering theatrical lights on spots that are surreptitiously moving during the day, the lights shift too, well, you can check with somebody else. It was profusely done by professionals.
What it was not done and I assume the total responsibility for this, is to pay tribute to the Maker who used the subtle and distinguished profile of the famous Egyptian queen to shape the most beautiful stone cap of the entire geologic extravaganza. Check it out, she is not here for long.
Notwithstanding my total lack of understanding of Penrose-Hawkins theorem of SINGULARITY I should use that stupendous coined term in context with the Arches Canyon. Arch if circular, parabolic or pointed is one of the brightest human inventions permitting to span a large space where crowds could receive divine blessing, do some negotiating, politically argue or enjoy artistic happenings, pugilism included. That arch consist of a sequence of wedge like elements, bricks or stone, whose curvilinear setting can support heavy loads. Arches in nature are made of a single piece and are very rare, if we exclude the Utah canyon which counts more than 2000. With the human apparently similar products they only share the resistance to the gravitation’s power. These natural arches occurred here because the particular composition of the canyon wall with two superior layers of pretty hard stone, while the lower level is of much softer composition. Water and other weathering agents played a role in their production but the final say in the process of shaping belong to the slim wedges of ice which are continuously cracking the soft third layer of the canyon walls. More I will not say, I have to go to the point I want to make which is very short and not completely verified, but attractive enough!
We are going to call it the Wanderer theorem and it sounds like this. The life on earth, the concentration of Arches in the above mentioned canyon and the continuously thinking animal known as homo sapiens sapiens are interrelated components of the same SINGULARITY sharing both rarity of occurrence and more important, according to different rhythms, PROGRESSIVE DETERIORATION AND FINAL DISAPPEARANCE. Like us arches collapses and die. I cannot end on such a depressive conclusion without to mention that some few baby arches are in line, I have seen one, and if you have enough patience to survive some few hundred thousand years you can assist to a magnificent delivery. For those who do not dispose of such amount of endurance I proudly inform that the Juniperus communis which produces blue berries, that are in reality transformed cones, in period of draught or whenever it likes, practices some ferocious self-AMPUTATION, by severing, that is the word, the nourishing sap to some of its branches, fact that is allowing it to survive around 1000 years. I will not recommend such a barbaric solution to my worst enemies.
Also for compulsive characters like me scratching relentlessly the desert crust with the hope to find a couple of nuggets, I swear that there is not more one around. However, what you can find are some dark patches which look like scalp actinic keratosis (old bald male have plenty of that). They are in reality amazing cooperatives of cyanobacteria, mosses, lichens, fungi and algae continuously in charge of soil maintenance and regeneration. Don’t step on them, say the rangers! The compound may work, eventually, for the humans too, especially for those who like alternative medicine. Till then I feel compelled to inform the general public that it is impossible to have a decent meal, notwithstanding the quantity and the diversity of products piled in your dish, in the so-called biblical city of Moab, no matter the amount of cash you are willing to burn. The local brewed beer is fine and if you want to have an idea of the effect of the trip on the three tight genetically connected participants the photo underneath is very suggestive and still an understatement.
PS1. For various reasons that I cannot trust to an open letter, notwithstanding the fact that an open letter is more trustful than a locked safe, because today people do not read anymore, they SEE, I got into a hubris mode and mood. That means I became too pleased with myself and trumpeting an overt good humor and glee. The reaction was not long to come, the Greek Gods loath boasting people, and already home, ready to lock the post, I realized that I missed by minutes and mainly by ignorance the longest and forcefully the most outstanding arch of the park: the Landscape Arch. After that I threw a bucket of ashes on my bald I calmed down soothed by the certitude that it was not the only capital thing that I overlooked in my life. So, I am illustrated it here for both you and me, and think of something else like : May God, the only and real one, punish the promiscuous Greek Godlets!
PS2. And because I do not like to end a looser, not because one has not to lose from time to time, but I didn’t feel that this was the right moment, and to hell with the Greek Godlets, I want to say a couple of words upon a wonderful encounter I had in Helper, that is the real name of a coal miner little town the Rolling Stones visited on the way back from the Canyon of Dying Arches. It was Sunday and in spite of the town being asleep and an out of fashion economical contraption, some of the mining is still going on and it does not look like a picturesque dying derelict. It was looking much more like a clean and sober, dignified compound and compact, what I like so much, doing its best to survive and to fill its human contract; what means don’t give up, don’t crawl, don’t whine, don’t feel frustrated and do something. And then we run into superb artistic/socio-cultural adventure, the AMJ studio cum gallery, run by a highly sensitive artist Anne Morgan Jesperen (who was not there in person, but very much in aura) and her husband – art lover, art collector and art promoter Roy Jespersen, who welcomed us. I liked Anne’s work, an architect and a painter, who moves with grace from a subtle and elegant, nature minded, somehow still life, spiritual realism to formal chromatic dialogues, reminiscent of Sonya Delaunay milestones. And I was not less enthralled by the determination of both to foster a Renaissance through Art in the Carbon County, look for the Helper Project, 17 visual artists established in Helper, spanning a bridge (I may say arching a bridge!) between Helper and the world, in parallel with their own lines of personal expression and holistic artistic experience. Said!
PS3. I am terribly sorry to tell everyone, that I just realized that some other inspired people, shame to them, have already called my queen, Queen Nefertiti, and the next one Queen Victoria, not that I care for that fat lady a little bit! C’est la vie, but I run short of ashes! See: https://utah.com/hiking/arches-national-park/park-avenue-trail
THE CANYON OF THE ARCHES 1