By Zeese Papanikolas MA BA
In American Silence , a supplement to his prior research Trickster within the Land of desires , Zeese Papanikolas investigates a couple of major American cultural artifacts and the lives in their makers. For Papanikolas, either the non-public mess ups and public successes of Clarence King, Henry Adams, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, and Hank Williams resonate with silences.
summary: In American Silence , a supplement to his past learn Trickster within the Land of desires , Zeese Papanikolas investigates a few major American cultural artifacts and the lives in their makers. For Papanikolas, either the non-public disasters and public successes of Clarence King, Henry Adams, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, and Hank Williams resonate with silences
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The Nature Conservancy is unacquainted with it. It is not on any of the inventories kept by the Wise Use movement. No sheep have gotten lost in its side canyons in October blizzards, no stray steers have dropped off its ravines and broken their necks or gotten caught belly up in its scrub for cowboys to swear about. There are no sheep on this mountain. There are no steers. There are no cowboys. No tourist could take a photograph of it. (If there were any tourists. ) Off-road vehicles have not scarred this mountain’s side hills, miners have not pocked its crevasses, oil and gas companies have not drilled exploration holes into its strata, fossil hunters have not hammered sauropods out of its ledges, archaeologist have not discovered ﬂints or remains of ancient cooking pits in its ﬂanks.
J. Bellocq and the painter Jackson Pollock joined this group, but by that time I had faintly discerned why I needed to write about these ﬁgures and what I had to say. You could say all these voices, the image of the old man and the bear cub and the boy and Pollock’s poured canvases, were in me because of the accidents of who I was, of my own history, my own tastes. And this is true. In almost any kind of writing you are, in effect, ﬁnding yourself. But as I worked I began to hear something under the welter of the voices of my subjects and hidden inside their images, something that had an analogue in an unanswered question that I sensed had been under the ﬁgures in the George Caleb Bingham painting all the time.
Wherever there was a rivulet, no matter how small, wherever there was a puddle, no matter how thin, there were the Chinese in their straw hats and pantaloons, digging and washing, throwing up heaps of gravel and building ditches and little dams to prepare for the rainy season. Olmsted saw the same kind of treadmill he had seen in the paddy ﬁelds of China used to raise water for a Long Tom. Often he would greet the Chinese and they would answer him in some insolent word—it was the only English they had learned, and they thought it was the custom of the country.
American silence by Zeese Papanikolas MA BA