Hope Deserta

vastness and gravity of west texas

Reyner Banham wrote about desert quality in Scenes of America Deserta:

The desert is also seen as a place of secrets, where the customary restraints of law and habit are suspended. All true desert lovers are in the terrible quandary that if their beloved desert is to be protected enough to survive, it must also be regulated enough to cease to be desert in the sense that they love. This is a crucial topic in all the desert fancying, and I will return to it…. The desert is also seen as an appropriate place for fantasies. Not only the fantasies of a Bessie Johnson or a Curtis Howe Springer, but the fantasies of dune buggy maniacs and lone hikers, the seekers after legendary gold mines, the exploders of the first atomic devices, the proponents of advanced missile systems and the diggers of gigantic earth sculptures. Never forget that it was in the Mojave that the first claimed UFO sightings took place, and the pioneer conversations with little green men from Venus. In a landscape where nothing officially exists (otherwise it would not be “desert”), absolutely anything becomes thinkable and may consequently happen.