Sibley a brilliant equivocator

  Dear HCN,

An absolutely brilliant essay by George Sibley (HCN, 3/18/02: How I lost my town). Memorable lines, sweeping flourishes, paragraphs that could stand alone as poetry. But when you take it all in, Sibley never "had" a town or "had" any place else.

Missing was some call to action. It was kind of nihilistic. We should try to save things * but then again, why? It was a meditation without a message.

Sibley admits to being a hippie, like so many of the brewski and pot-happy HCN crew, and his penchant for relativistic ethics of the '60s comes through loud and clear as does the idea of hedonistic recreationism (the earth as playpen for commercialized fun). There is to be no sacrifice for some long-term common good. Instead it's just the same old do-my-own-thing ethic of the kids of the '60s.

Sibley may be more skillful with a pen than was Ed Abbey, but Abbey had black-and-white convictions that I liked. Abbey did more, and will do more dead than Sibley will do alive, to save not just Mendicant Mountain but the whole Mendicant Range itself. Playing word games over "quaint" and "what really is 'The West,' " and "is it development or growth" would drive Abbey nuts.

I hunger and look for True Believers on the pages of HCN. The equivocators (like Sibley), who are proud to admit they joined up with the Realtor/developer because they were clever enough to string together the PR words to make sprawl seem right, are like Neville Chamberlin after a visit with Herr Hitler; "everything is going to be all right."

"But it's still a mountain." That doesn't do it for me. No way. Not after the Realtor, road builders, ski run incrementalist, economic determinists, hedonistic multiple-use recreationists have torn so many good things out of it - like authenticity, for openers.

Aldo Leopold in Sand County Almanac wrote of a basaltic hulk of a mountain called Escudilla. Once its grizzly had been shot, the mountain had lost part of something that "had been a-building since the morning stars sang together."

We abuse the West, split it into 20 million ranchettes, carve it up like a pickled lab frog, and then wonder why the distant music is hard to hear.

Dave Tillotson
Lake Mills, Wisconsin