A spot to do my thing.

From the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

Been pondering where exactly I might build an art studio remote enough not to disturb the neighbors with lurching/heaving earth. Someplace where I can park a whisky-stocked double-wide, ride horses and a personal boring machine, induce seismicity, summon lightning, harvest moonlight, dig and refill massive holes, manipulate hydrothermals, and launch purpose-built satellites, etc. as I please.

The Mojave and Sonoran deserts feel like obvious candidates, as do parts of the Colorado Plateau. Another possibility: the Permian Basin.

Back in 2020, after shaving my plague beard on the edge of Ciudad Juárez (with a head full of Marty Robbins and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666), I drove six hundred miles of slate rain through the West Texas wastes listening to Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. Fog bobbed between mesas like a spirit level, a long boxcar train fed a thunderous gatling gun in the distance like a belt of ammunition, and faerie trees were aflame: solitary towers of open fire burning excess natural gas in the otherwise-empty immensity of the prairie.

“They rode on,” but something inside me was snagged on the place.

The year before, in the midst of a trip to Marfa to see Donald Judd’s late work (maximalist context being an externality of Minimalism), Eva, my sister and I had climbed to the highest point of the basin – the summit of Guadalupe Peak (2667 meters) – for a good look around.

300 million years ago, when what is now Texas formed part of Pangea’s western equatorial edge, a narrow channel connected the surrounding superocean to a big inland sea with three arms: the Marfa, Midland, and Delaware basins. The Delaware was approximately 150 miles long and 75 miles across. Starting ~275 million years ago, a thick reef began to form along its rim. The reef developed for millions of years before Hovey Channel began to close. Choked off from the ocean, water in the Delaware Basin evaporated faster than it could be replenished – precipitating its salts out onto the muddy seafloor. Within a few hundred thousand years, the entire basin had filled in with these soft, bedded deposits. The reef was gradually subsumed by dry land. 80 million years ago, however, compressional forces from the Laramide orogeny cracked Texas open, producing huge new faults and uplifting buried sections of the Permian basin thousands of feet in the air. The comparatively soft outer layers of this escarpment have been weathered away, re-exposing a towering marine necropolis.

And I had thought: It might do.

2 Responses to “A spot to do my thing.”

  1. beingcompiled Says:

    like this!

  2. wchambliss Says:

    Glad to hear it! How are you keeping?

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