The Desert of the Real

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Speaking of locations, another important setting for the novel is the desert.  Above, the first image came from Utah, a place I journeyed to in preparation for writing the final chapters, which unfold in the wasteland west of Salt Lake City.  The second image comes from the Arabian desert.  One idea that links the two is that my male protagonist could simply not escape his appointment in this archetypal landscape, even by fleeing around the world.

What does it mean?  You’ll recall that Jesus spent forty days there following his baptism by John, and was visited by the Devil.  Many of the western Native American mythologies are set there.  And Hollywood continues to dip its toe in the sand, as seen in the recent Transformers and Pirates of the Carribbean sequels.

For me, the Desert signifies the stripping down of life, to its bare essentials: technology fails, civilization stalls, and struggles of ego give way to struggles for existence.  It’s where people confront the illusions they’ve lived under, by having them stripped away.  Bodies and minds fail there, too, of course.  But this makes it the ultimate arena for trials of the spirit: deprived of the usual distractions–luxuries, money, time, even food and drink–a person finds what, if anything, is left of himself.

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