I’ve been chronicling my project with my wife on this blog. I’m going to write a sonnet series about the creation of California, what really made it what it is. She’s a visual artist, so she’s going to do the graphic art work for it.
Last week, I realized that my original idea wasn’t going to work and that I was going to have to use Muir and Mulholland and their water battles as the focus of my work. It doesn’t seem interesting at first until you consider the amount of violence and passion the men had for their work. There were battles and huge projects including a couple of dam disasters.
Both Scotsmen saw California as a kind of Garden of Eden. For Muir, it was perfect as it was, and he fought a battle that he sometimes won and sometimes lost to keep California natural. For Mulholland, it was the opposite. He saw the potential for agriculture in California, saw that this state could become his vision of the Garden of Eden. He relied on recreating the landscape in his own image. He would pipe water and dam up rivers that should not have been dammed. He accidentally killed many people and died feeling that he’d been a failure in a lot of ways.
Anyway, when I realized that they both saw this state as a kind of Garden of Eden, I knew that the structure of my collection was going to have to be biblical. In fact, the two men had their own versions of the same story going, Genesis through Exodus. Both tried to save the Garden. Both experienced world ending floods. Both created a kind of Exodus to two kinds of promised lands.
That’s all I’m going to hint at for the structure for now, but the idea has me excited. I’m going to have to start traveling soon to get the texture of the lands. But that’s coming.