Thursday, February 23, 2012

Last of Last Summer's Tennessee Pictures

After reading two especially--to my sensibility--poisonous articles on the internet in near succession the other day, one about the clientele of Sotheby's auction house and the desirable young female employees carefully vetted for their discerning pleasure, and the other about Picasso's sex life, I was a little extra fed up with the whole trajectory of my own social life, and I began to ask myself, what if I just go off the reservation at some point and refuse to be my regular limpid self one minute longer (or at least take a temporary vacation from having to live constantly as that annoyingly constrained and limited gentleman)? To reiterate what is ultimately the only theme of this blog, without great talents, or at the very least intelligence and capabilities developed to a very high degree, personal power and sexual magnetism, life can be pleasant enough, and even amusing enough in places, but can it really be said to be worthwhile? I do believe there is a kind of strong serenity, and perhaps wisdom--though my confidence in this last, at least as regards people of my own time and place, is shaky--to be found in a simple existence given over to committed religious devotion, if one really grasps what that means and is able to live confident in all that would be implied by such an understanding. But I am a long way from being seriously able to undertake anything resembling this manner of life either. I am still to attracted to wealth, power, pretty girls and various epicurean and other aesthetic delights, though the enjoyment and possession of these things have been rare occasions in my life.

1. Posing By the Sign Near the Main Entrance to Great Smoky, etc, National Park, near Gatlinburg

I am aware that there are thousands of pictures on the internet of people doing the same thing. However I like signs and other familiar landmarks as kind of narrative markers or breaks when putting together albums or picture sets. Filmmakers do this, or at least used to do this, all the time. I often find it to be a satisfying technique.

As you can see we were there on an especially bright and verdant day.

I am also aware that I look ridiculous. I am trying to upgrade my wardrobe. Developing an instinct for taste at this late stage of life and the presumption to confidently wear clothes above my wonted social station is more difficult to pull off than one would think.

2. View From Clingman's Dome (The High Elevation Point of the Park)

A clearer day than when we were there the previous year. This is not an arduous or long hike. You drive to an overflowing parking area about a mile from the peak and walk up a steep, but paved path to the top along with several hundred other people at any given time. The children like it--the payoff is a large space age observation tower at the top--and there was sentimentality involved so we took care to go back for a second time.

3. Near the Beginning of the Path to Clingman's Dome

Nothing to say about this, other than that the sight of a bright, clean, organized, not to say open, information center has for me a reassuring quality. Yes, I am that mentally beaten down by contemporary civilization.

4. 2-Yr Old Trapped in Stroller Atop the CCC/WPA Dedication Monument at Newfound Gap.

Newfound Gap is right at the center of the park. There is a huge parking area, as quite a lot is going on there. Besides this monument there is a celebrated view (see picture #6), the geographical boundary commemorated in picture #5, and the Appalachian Trail passes through the midst of this scene as well.

5. What it Says.

There are a lot of pictures of this sign on the internet as well. While I do keep many lists and go see many places that are almost wholly devoid of visitors, and indeed, to take matters to extremes, life at all, I do have in certain things an instinct to go where the people are, especially when to do so does not incur outrageous expense. The picture session at this particular sign with the children (there ended up being 7 or 8 photos snapped, with various combinations of persons) I noted at the time as having more than the usual share of stress. I certainly do not demand that anyone pose for a picture who does not want to, and I am pretty sure it was they who wanted the moment recorded at least as much as I did. Perhaps the obviousness and sense of necessity of the task at hand was the unconscious cause of anxiety.

You may observe that in contrast to other family/tourist bloggers, we have very few pictures of ourselves at table, and none of our food. This is partly because such times are fairly chaotic with us, but even during my time in Europe before I had any children I had not the instinct (perhaps because doing so in a restaurant with an old manual camera would have been fairly conspicuous) for the most part to photograph my dinner.

6. Newfound Gap, View.

The same view that Daniel Boone himself would have looked upon, according to one of my books from the 1960s.

7. Little Girl By the Hotel Pool

My daughter is ten months old now (she was 2 months here). She sits up, and says 'mama' and 'dada' and clearly understands other words ('bottle') but she has not figured out how to crawl yet (my oldest son was walking at 10 months).

8. One Version of What a Motel-Cabin in the Smoky Mtns Looks Like!

Because as we know, the learned world whose opinions I care so much about is full of snob types who will never come to a place like this on account of its frightening reputation. This cabin has two rooms like the one above with a small kitchen, visible in the back, connecting them. You can apparently rent just one side and share the kitchen with strangers, but we took up the whole joint.

Children 1 & 3 on Antiquated Swing Set at Antiquated Motor Hotel

You can kind of see the rise of the mountains in the background. This hotel is at least off the main drag but still very close to the park.

10. #'s 1-4, Inclusive, on Swings

Probably a redundant picture, but at least it is from a different angle.

This year I am sure we will definitely go somewhere different, assuming we are fortunate enough to be able to go anywhere at all. Of course I would be a little sad if we never went back to Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains again. I am forever sad at the prospect of never again going anywhere I have liked even a little bit, or that is consistently interesting or lively in some way across time, of being personally done with it forever. It is a mild feeling, but it is also characteristic of the pessimist, and I always have to remind myself that there is no reason to imagine that I won't live out my days in hopeless poverty and squalor or die by some grotesque manner of execution, mainly for the crime of just appearing to somebody to be a sap. So I always have the sense whenever we have a lovely time that we quite possibly may never be so happy again.

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