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A Hobo’s View
Notes on America by Rail, Vehicle and Foot: 1 of 9: 9/9/2022, Utah
© 2022 James LaFond
“Since you are a traveling man, I was wondering, about your favorite places.”
The nice lady next door, who traveled some parts of the west as a ball player in the 1960s, and with her husband, a rodeo man in the 1970s, and since to visit family in a few Mountain States was honestly intrigued about what I have seen. Though she will never read this, I thought that perhaps readers might find some value in it. This occurred to me when Lynn messaged me that I was like a Jonah swallowed by an Amtrak train, and that she enjoys my travel writing, tinged with a note of guilt as she knows I do not like doing that kind of writing.
Well, I do not like writing. Every article is another chance to embarrass myself with a typo. Writing is an ongoing act of existential humiliation. After some 250 books I still don’t feel like I’m good at it. The stuff I work hardest on is of interest to the fewest readers—about a third or a quarter. The articles that are read the most are the travel notes. So, as I am as driven to write travel impressions as anything else, I devote certain chunks of my time to that as owed to the long suffering readers who have supported my decade and more of misbehavior. I have recently began summarizing what might have once been articles, as phrases in my monthly Writing Journals.
As I am way ahead on finishing Holiday Blue, I figured I would take today off and bank 7 days of time to write some other novel, by sketching a six part series on travel impressions. First, I detest tourist locations. It might be the most amazing thing in nature, such as Mount Saint Helens or a handful of other vacation spots that people have taken me to.
There is the crowd, which generally ruins any act of contemplation by its pervasive, mewing presence. Then there is the fact that so many zero-sum eaters have been to such a place, that to step into it—like Ocean City, Maryland—is to enter a howling, consumptive node of hungry nothing. This last is hard for me to describe, but precludes any thinking at the site beyond the next alien invasion novel about wiping all of these oxygen thieves out.
There is no enjoyment from a view unless I have earned it, like climbing the side of a mountain and looking down. I find no pleasure, wonder or sense of being from the seat of a train, plane, truck or even the side-by-side Bob and I took up the mountain yesterday. These experiences are utterly empty for me and oddly do not help me write landscape very well, because I am sitting and characters in adventure novels usually are not, and I am moving, passively, as a passenger and feel detached from what is viewed.
I have used this passive observation in novels, for instance yesterday, sketching the perspective of Temporary Jack, a human blood hound, who is standing behind his master who pilots a conveyance that Jack cannot understand, placing him in a transitory state of passive passage. Likewise, passive passage has featured in many novels, in Wake Christopher, Sold, Cox & Swain and in The Sunset Saga. So passive passage experienced does help me write fiction and grant some perspective on certain acts of history. I intend to use this in Timejacker as well.
However, as an experiental person who prefers doing over viewing, I tend to trashcan vantages that other folks I know would treasure if they had the chance to experience them. For me though, sitting in a moving vehicle, these are not experiences but a kind of passing view of some other person’s world. For this reason, I look at places seen from passive vantages and wonder if Mom, or a certain friend would like that view and sometimes take a picture and send it. I have recently stopped doing that, preferring to sleep on the train, since the lead up and arrival bracketing travel to a new host location tend to be tiring. Also, writing on the train is something I no longer do, in order to protect my last computer from the fate of the others. My Editor informed me that laptops are not—in my price range—really designed to be moved so much.
Finally, I realize that my objection to passive access to a viewpoint is an apish conceit. For, although I might walk to get my view of Mount Hood, and savor it, while caring less about the look of it while on the train, I am ultimately only able to take that walk to see the mighty mountain because of the train. My stance is not a moral one, but a visceral one.
For example, I have a friend who has decided that Latina women are unattractive on moral grounds, because they are invaders, and no matter how pretty, nice, well-formed a woman is, if she is Latina, she is ugly. That is a moral—a higher valuation—than my visceral attraction to basic female geometry regardless of kind.
Recalling that, and that 99.9 percent of my readers are men, I will also include women as the sights seen. The remaining six installments are outlined below:
-2. By Train: Most Impressive Scenic Views
-3. By Road: Most Impressive Scenic Views
-4. By Foot: Most Impressive Hiking Views
-5. By Street: Most Awesome Shithole Hatehoods
-6. By Alley: Coolest Tweener Spaces
-7. By Door: Favorite Dive Bars and Diners
-8. Babes: Most Memorable Brood Stock
-9. By Twilight: Most Memorable Sunrises and Sunsets
Gutter Gnome in an Empty Nest
author's notebook
By Train
advent america
sons of aryаs
orphan nation
masculine axis
crag mouth
under the god of things
when you're food
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