Sunday, September 14, 2008

places of power

Kelder's Farm, Route 209, Kerhonkson, NY

I've been reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. It has been on my to-be-read list for some time and I'm so pleased that this was the one i picked from the pile. I love his use of language and his imagination and wit seem endless and effortless.

Imagine my delight when I found, in this book, the perfect accompaniment to this giant gnome photograph - an answer to the question (on all our lips) "Why?".

Two central characters are en route to a roadside attraction called the Hotel on the Rock.

One of them explains the appeal of roadside attractions - that, in America, these phenomena are places of power.

'Its perfectly simple,' said Wednesday. 'In other countries, over the years, people recognised the places of power. Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew that something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples, or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or ... well, you get the idea.'

'There are churches all across the States, though,' said Shadow.

'In every town. Sometimes on every block. And about as significant, in this context, as dentists' offices. No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beerbottles of somewhere they've never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat-house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves being pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognise that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.'

'You have some pretty whacked out theories,' said Shadow.

Hence - the largest gnome in the world.

*Neil Gaiman, American Gods, p.125, 126-7 Headline pub. 2002


tut-tut said...

Interesting . . . a place of power.

What I like best, is seeing no houses or developments in those hills yonder.

wordwitch said...

We're going to see Mr. Gaiman the end of this month - at the National Book Festival here in DC...would you like a book autographed? If so, which one?

It was super wonderful spending the day with you in London!! Hopefully we'll be back "soon"!!


Kath said...

I think I'm going to have to find that book and read it! Am always looking for a new book.
Love the key photo below.

Dumdad said...

Gnome sweet gnome!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

That's one helluva garden gnome!

Just down the road there used to be giant spotted dog - with a tearoom in his tummy. It was one of those places that as a child I just had see regularly. "Can we go to see Spotty pleeeeees!" Now Spotty is gone, but there remains a memorial to him - a much smaller dog sitting on the pavement outside the hardware store - but still a lot bigger than a real dog!
He really was a place of power.

R.L. Bourges said...

Hot-Dogs at Transcendental Mall - best in town! Served up by thirty-foot gnome in fluorescent leotards. Buy 1, get 3 Free. Honk for service.

(Excellent pic and excerpt, letty. Couldn't resist the urge for a riff.)

Anonymous said...

In Los Angeles I used to live within easy walking distance of a Giant Owl. You walked inside the Owl and could get food and drink. It was called the Hoot Owl Cafe. It attracted me all of the time, even though the food and drink was so so.

the people who owned it knew it had power, so it was torn down quickly at 3am when no one was around to protest. We saw the rubble and we cried and cried.

dennis said...

Dennis says there is a giant cow near Sligo PA.

Trac said...

Damn it - Dumbdad beat me to it! :O)

Shammickite said...

I agree. I have searched all over America for those huge giant Cowboys and Indians... found some, took their pics, got empowered. Yeah it works!

edward said...

i would like to see a giant thing.

i just woke up and posted a video for you Lettuce. so you can see how i have grown

edward said...

i am not a teenager yet, still a toddler

Akelamalu said...

You remember that song "I love a Gnu"?

Well I love that Gnome!

Barbara said...

One of my favorite memories of my first trip to Europe was the biggest Lego construction in the world. I'm always amazed at those you want to add -est to any adjective and make it a reality. I think it takes a particular mindset to do it and another mindset to appreciate it!

I'm also intrigued with words that start with Gn!

goatman said...

In western Kansas there is a sign: "Worlds largest hand-dug well (and meteorite) 2 miles"
So is it large by volume, depth, diameter (one could reasonably dig a well a foot deep and 500 feet in diameter, striking water somewhere in the pattern); one could also dig a well very deep but the size of a man (assumidly close work).
I think you would have to use volume as a guideline, but that's just me!
And whats with the meteorite? Found in the well dirt; arrived whilst digging; maybe not even found there but imported.
Many questions . . . maybe some trip we will stop and find out.

Thanks for the Holdstock reference.

Betty said...

O goodness - I daren't show this to R. She finds gnomes a little freaky.
His flowers look a little limp ...

Trac said...

Awwwww... fancy killing the Hoot Owl Cafe at 3am?
That is a sad story...

Lynne said...

There's no place like gnome! :)

PS I guess I need to drive up and see this guy up close and personal.

Bob Dylan said...

I like the Places of Power thought.

Steve said...

Sounds like an interesting book! Oxymoronic or not, this gnome does have some kind of power, doesn't he? (He made us stop, after all! :) )

lettuce said...

tut-tut there seemed to be endless wild greenness up there

wordwitch - how exciting for you! I'd love to meet him. And yes please. hence exciting for me too! i'll email you.... was great to see you.

hello kath, nice to meet you. well if you do, let me know what you think.

well dumdad, i guess someone had to and it might as well have been you. Aint you got gnome to go to?

Vanilla - a spotted dog tea room?! who knew there were such marvels in the world?

very witty rlb. Don't ever resist on my account, please. :)

Anon, the story of the Hoot Owl cafe is indeed a sad sad story. :[

dennis, is it to scale, in relation to this gnome? that would be REALLY powerful

hee hee. trac said dumbdad.

who knew, Shammie, that you were a giant cowboy connoiseur?

Eddy! you are so big now! but still very little in comparison with the gnome

Akelamalu, d'you mean "agnother gnu"?

Barbara, I'm more inclined to be a fan of little-ests rather than biggests. are there many words beginning with gn? gnostic is the only one that comes immediately to mind and its a bit unsatisfactory because the g is silent...

goatman that does indeed raise a host of questions. Maybe the meteorite is used as a stopper on top of the well? have you read Holdstock? i think his books are fabulous (esp. Lavondyss)

betty that is an accurate observation. limp and sad. not at all fitting for a gnome of such stature.

:[ trac

lynne, you can get close, but i don't know about personal.

bob I certainly thought it was witty but possibly also wise

he did Steve! and it is, too.

Reya Mellicker said...

Oy vey. We Americans have so many roads and highways, so roadside attractions are inevitable. "The Biggest" is also one of our obsessions. It's so embarrassing to be an American sometimes.

These roadside attractions hold no power for me. American places of power, IMO, are the beautiful rivers, like the Mississippi and the Columbia (and closer to my home, the Potomac), the Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Mt. Shasta in California, the mysterious Everglades in Florida, the Great Lakes - these "biggest" places are truly powerful.

I know it's more than easy for you Brits to make us Americans the butt of many a joke, but ... ouch.

lettuce said...

oh reya. :[ I wasn't meaning to laugh at americans, and i don't think neil gaiman was either. (he is a brit but has lived in america for quite a while)

i don't think roadside attractions are a solely american phenomenon, are they?

and tho i agree with you rivers and mountains are places of power like no others, i think gaiman might have kind of a point about something in human nature...

certainly no offence intended.

i love america, so far as i've seen it, and i love quite a few americans too