Thursday, November 6, 2008
Cache Valley at twilight
I'm staying on the campus at Utah State, and late this afternoon I walked down toward town for coffee. The campus is up on the edge of the foothills -- benches they call them in Utah -- and so the mountains loom dramatically behind it. This view is just on the edge of the campus, where you can look down across the whole valley. The picture's a little blurry because it was getting dark, but if you click on it to enlarge it you make out the startling presence of the snowy mountains on the other side. Those glowing towers are, of course, the Holy of Holies. Today in West Hollywood thousands of people protested in front of the Temple there, furious about the church's twenty-five million dollar intrusion into the lives of gay families.
In Utah the mountains always seem startling. I think that to the 19th century arrivals, they must have looked like engravings of the Holy Land, with those looming peaks over huge open expanses of dry grassland. And even now, it's like the mountains pull your attention up, away from the social world beneath them. This is an inviting kind of transcendence (I lift mine eyes to the hills...) but it's dangerous, too; if you've got your eyes on the sublime up there you might not notice the human landscape around you, where love and desire are not monolithic and singular, but various, diverse and uncontrollable. No matter how much you try to channel them into some kind of pre-determined template. All the repression in the world won't work, though it will make people miserable along the way.