[-empyre-] the pharmakon in the mountains
christina at christinamcphee.net
Mon Dec 15 06:12:22 EST 2008
On Dec 13, 2008, at 7:29 AM, Kevin Hamilton wrote:
> Within an enchanted world, the pharmakon will still be a poison even
> for the person it cures - it will still be a remedy even for the
> person it poisons. The power in the thing grants it ontology apart
> from our perception of it. In the disenchanted world, the pharmakon
> will be only a poison to the dead and will only be a remedy to the
> cured. The thing only exists for the receiver.
Isn't it interesting-- this pharmakon may be both, now! which is why
I think it is connected to the swerve, or clinamen -- in other words,
right in the breach between 'its only for me the receiver' and 'the
power in the thing grants it ontology apart' there is a space. what
sort of space? satirical and yet reverent? like
So Kevin hasn't completed confessed to what he was up to in the
mountains-- but here is his text which I quote directly from the
Pharmakon Library Folio One (2008):
he Mount of the Holy Cross is a real place, and one of Colorado's
highest peaks. Each summer the winter snow melts away first from the
mountain's rock face, and last from the two ravines that form the
snowy shape of a cross. Hidden behind other high peaks in the vicinity
of former mining towns and present-day ski resorts, the Mount is only
visible from either very close or very far. As a result, this hard-to-
reach location achieved the status of lore and legend until the Hayden
Survey finally mapped and measured the peak in 1873. During that same
visit, photographer William Henry Jackson captured an image of the
cross that would serve him in various iterations throughout his
career. Reproductions of his famous picture found their way into
countless American homes; painter Thomas Moran borrowed from Jackson's
image for a popular and epic painting.
For many, this white cross served as divine confirmation of the right
of white men to possess the land. The "red" Utes were forcibly removed
from the Rockies, while the Mount was made a National Monument, an
economic boon to tourism and mining. Only when the surrounding forests
were claimed by the military for Camp Hale during World War II did the
Holy Cross begin to fade from the public imagination. By the time Camp
Hale closed in the 1960's, re-allowing public access to the Cross,
religious faith had been successfully confined to the private domain,
and no longer a subject for collective civic attention. No longer a
National Monument, the Mount today is a popular destination for "peak-
baggers" in their quest to climb all of Colorado's mountains that
measure over 14,000 feet in elevation.
Zippy the Pinhead is the subject of a syndicated comic strip by artist
William "Bill" Henry Jackson Griffith, great-grandson of the
photographer William Henry Jackson. In the Summer of 2008, Zippy
finally paid a visit to the Mount of the Holy Cross, where he posed
for a photograph and answered some questions from artist and fan Kevin
KH: Zippy, it's pretty high up here above the treeline - are you newly
inspired by the oxygen-thin air, the unfiltered UV rays, the glinting
skin of commercial airliners?
ZP: Actually, I just keep thinking about ferris wheels!
KH: Really? Don't the vast views and unspoiled tundra leave you
feeling closer to the divine?
ZP: I don't know, something about the total absence of Cracker Barrels
and Toyota Scions just leaves me dizzy.
KH: Maybe you need to drink more water. Do you think the ferris wheel
is some repressed memory from your childhood, revived by the sight of
the 1000-foot cross of snow before us?
ZP: No, I never wore white. A muu-muu isn't a robe exactly, and the
hood gets in the way of my MYSTICAL THIRD EYE.
KH: Yeah, I keep meaning to ask you - what have you got against pants
anyway? I hear that Schlitzie the Pinhead wore a dress because of the
incontinence caused by microcephaly.
ZP: Yes, tectonic plates are moving even as we speak! The mountains
sing of an impending ideological earthquake!
KH: No, Zippy, that's just more unexploded ordnance down the hill at
Camp Hale. Some poor hiker probably just lost his shit.
ZP: You would too if you'ld just seen the ghost of Orion W. Daggett!
KH: The storied newspaperman of Red Cliff! If only his dream of a
highway to the Cross had come to life. Then we'd be standing on a real
ZP: Well I've always been a believer.
KH: Me too! But what good is a private fantasy? Don't you long for the
old days, when thousands trekked up this peak to hold mass in the
ZP: There's plenty of light! Just take the picture!
KH: I know, you're probably right. Who needs another mass cult in the
snow? Besides, with global warming there won't be enough snow anyway,
the cross will be gone.
ZP: Pine beetles! Kludd and Kleagle! Is there a sequel?
> We can look, for example, to the function of the Colorado Rockies as a
> pharmakon for white Americans, seeking a pastoral remedy from their
> urban/suburban lives.
> As a modern skeptic, I can divide the poison from the remedy, and see
> how what heals me there in my fancy hiking boots is what kills the
> place and the people displaced by white settlement. I'm racist without
> meaning to be - sounds like the definition of white guilt.
> But what if that's too subjective for the pharmakon? Can I look at how
> what's healing me is also a poison to me, in addition to looking at it
> as a poison to someone else?
> Is my Rocky Mountain High a poison to me as well, a changing agent
> within me, that I exist in those spaces as someone who benefits from
> genocide? I think so. But it's hard to get my modern mind around - I
> fall so easily into displacing the evil done by attending to my own
> positive or negative transformation.
> Kevin Hamilton
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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