“Nature is never finished.” —Robert Smithson

Our minds are organic landscapes for the unfettered genesis of ideas and requires visual stimulation in support of that. Much of the art visited upon us in the past twenty years is a regurgitation of our own bastardization of our environment. In stark contrast to a bird that nourishes its young by disgorging recently eaten worms, our cultural parroting is contaminated and inbred. Our continual need to revisit the same pop culture diseases mimics an addict believing the next injection will surpass the last, only to realize it was less, more was needed and death is inevitable.

Short of future annihilation, Americans have thus far, retained an ability to reinvent, to find a way out of our own tendencies toward mediocrity and mendacity. Our current presidential election is representative of the dynamics our culture is facing. Will we continue to feed upon our own diseased ideas or break free to develop a new culture of ideas?

My recent return to the American West is a reminder of the possibilities contained within America. I have been deeply disturbed and grown increasingly disenfranchised with the state of our country. In my lifetime this nation has transformed from one of hope, hard work, relative compassion and intellectual prowess to one of celebrated ignorance and intolerance. In stark contrast to this persistent tilting at wind mills, we still have the American West. Despite dams, populating the desert and killing the Bison and the Indians, the landscape remains, stalwart and impenetrable. There is comfort in knowing that the West is unconquerable. The day will come when Las Vegas returns to its original desert state, cleansed of all attempts to mollify the valley. In this idea remains hope for our future. The open landscape can offer an open mind and a humble one which we are sorely lack. Let us look to the West again, not out of unfettered expansion or boundless ego, but in reverence for those things that remain larger than ourselves so that we might do good and take flight from the blind cloning of broken concepts.

“Every day takes figuring out all over again how to fucking live.”

—Calamity Jane, from Deadwood
This entry was posted by Erik Odin Cathcart.

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