Stories & Life
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Hitchin’

I’m mostly on foot, out here, in terms of navigating myself to and from places like the mail shack or the Saloon or wherever the bonfire may be. Hence I’m always on the lookout for a ride. On Saturday I got a lift in the bed of my buddy’s pickup truck. He had taken out the passenger seat and besides that the dog looked comfortable, so I jumped in back

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Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy; I pass the winters in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. I'm working on a memoir-based nonfiction book on the American Dream. I blog, quite frequently, and I also have a novel in process, set in Alaska.

8 Comments

  1. Car adornments betray a territorial mindset… People who customize their cars with stickers and other adornments are more prone to road rage than other people, according to researchers in Colorado… What’s more, only the number of bumper stickers, and not their content, predicted road rage — so “Jesus saves” may be just as worrying to fellow drivers as “Don’t mess with Texas”…

    This work clearly demonstrates that people will actively defend a space or territory that they feel attached to and have personalized with markers…Szlemko admits that he is not entirely surprised by the results. “We have to remember that humans are animals too,” he says. “It’s unrealistic to believe that we should not be territorial.”

    – from this article

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    • Do you think that a territorial mentality can take a healthy form? No one faults a mama bear for defending her cubs or a wolf from defending the den. If territorialism is free of Othering, can it be a positive thing? I think of folks defending their land from corporate interests or like the Standing Rock defense of clean water, etc… There seems to be some healthy form of animal territorialism that is free from the kind of superiority complex or whatever it is that results in human beings distorting things. Or maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe that was your point, originally, I.e., that people who are territorial take on an animal like aggression. I’m just wondering if such aggression might be channeled in healthy ways rather than making folks Moore susceptible to road rage.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I was just looking at your ride and it brought this study to mind. Do you think that people in Alaska are more territorial than those in the lower 48? Less tolerant of traffic or crowding or interlopers, or even of neighbors for that matter. Alaska seems like the kind of place where territorial markers wouldn’t be meaningful — the open range and all that. Maybe the non-territorial types head for northern Canada instead. Or maybe their territorialism is more collective — our place, rather than my place. Standing Rock is a collective defense of a collective territory. But hey, that’s just one pickup truck, the correlation of bumper stickers with road rage isn’t all that strong statistically, glad the dude gave you a ride.

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      • I think it depends on the area of Alaska, as to how territorial folks can be. Like most rural areas, Alaskans are very concerned about boundary lines, land titles, and easement/access. In fact, if you Google the book by Tom Kizzia, Pilgrim’s Wilderness, the big crazy drama that ensued (here in McCarthy in the early 2000s) was further enflamed by Alaskans passionate about easement/access, i.e., the right to be able to get out to your property, even if that means cutting through federal land. It became national news because easement activists from all over the nation helped fund the Pilgrims. In any event, Pilgrim’s Wilderness is a great read. Kizzia is a reporter from Anchorage with a cabin here. He’s also an excellent writer and the book is a page turner, very informative about life out here, and the book sold well, nationally.

        In any event, one thing that is really interesting about land rights out west — in Alaska as well as the western states like Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and up into Wyoming and Idaho — is that there is an enormous amount of hostility toward the federal government and toward the rules/regs that apply to federal land (often protected land). Yet, paradoxically, it’s federal funds and federal projects (dams, roads, grids, and other expensive infrastructure) that make the frontier life possible.

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    • Nice coincidence — I just read this paragraph, inspired by a mid-19th century painting by Alfred de Dreux of hunting scene, in Optic Nerve, a 2014 novel by Argentinian art critic Maria Gainza, recently translated into English and found by me on the New Releases shelf of the south branch of the Durham County LIbrary:

      Hunting scenes were quite common in Dreux’s day, evocations of a sport that had been a class marker since the Middle Ages, when the hunt became an elite pastime and often the only means of preparing men for war. An unintended by-product was that it gave nobility a way of measuring itself — though only against itself. The first ever enclosures of forests and common land came about to enable exclusive access to big game. Commoners had to make do with birds and rabbits; bears, wolves, and deer became the landowner’s right.

      Here’s something else I just learned: Buenos Aires has more bookstores per capita than any city in the world. Next comes Hong Kong, then Madrid.

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      • I’ve been wondering, recently, how we rank here in the States these days, as far as reading books is concerned. My general sense is that reading is on the decline and people who are able to appreciate good writing and good literature should perhaps consider putting themselves on the endangered species list. But that’s just anecdotal, my own impression. My sense is that there are other nations that appreciate their writers a bit more, although I’m not sure which countries/cultures. There’s the UK, they have a reputation as good readers. When I was in South Africa, I got the impression that they had a very active culture of readers and writers.

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