Friday, June 2, 2017

The West West

My house seems like it was designed in such a way that if you stand in the hallway you have a good, clear rifle shot at the front doorway.


Anyone coming into the house from a sun lit outdoors wouldn't see you standing in the shadow and you could get off several rounds before they knew what hit them.

Was the house designed that way? It's the basic tract house of a type built in 1949. Whether you needed that defensive feature in New Mexico in 1949, I don't know. In other ways, however, the house is exactly suited for its environment and its environment shaped how the house was designed and built. It has inch thick concrete walls covered with an insulating fiberboard and then stucco that stay cool practically all day and warm pretty much all night. A slight breeze will ventilate the entire house. Air flowing over the flat roof creates a vacuum on the leeward side windows and the layout of the rooms and opening between them aids in the circulation process. The people who designed and built it knew what they were doing. Would they have also put some thought into making the house easy to defend if need be?

I like to say New Mexico is the last remnant of the wild, wild west. That's a play on the name of the old TV series The Wild, Wild West, but I say it because of the close connection between present day New Mexico and its past, which, after all, represents the real American West that was here centuries before the Anglo west of dime store novels and Hollywood movies got conjured up in creative 20th century minds. 

The actual West of New Mexico's past is carried on in the culture here. The past remains in force in many ways and compared to many places remains relatively undiluted. Much of New Mexico has remained relatively physically isolated. The closest big cities, that might have been the source of other cultural influences, are at least 500 miles in any direction and probably more than a week's travel away before paved roads became common.

Those strong cultural influences may explain why Native and Native Hispanic New Mexico are wild, or untamed you might say, in another sense; people here never submitted and became servile to an outside government. That's also true in parts of the US South, but the prevailing culture here has been in place much longer and is not so much a reaction to the prevailing American culture as it predates it by several centuries.









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