Memories of Taos
I traveled through the Southwest last December, ending the trip in Marfa, Texas. It was my second time visiting Marfa and the sci-fi minimalism of Judd’s paternal expression of America’s historical resilience, the romantic west and its frontier. Having saved the town, literally (with the economy he brought to it as well as successfully acquiring water permits for the barren town), Judd allowed for Marfa today to bustle with contemporary art-goers absorbing an aesthetically gentrified small Texas town.
However, Judd’s 60s formal phenomenology easily wilts compared to my other Southwest memories, which include more indelible and powerful moments: an early morning drive through a blizzard, the discovery that broken ritual pottery is to be whole again with the transmission of departed spirits, the autonomous Native American communities that uniquely rearticulate the ephemera of American domesticity, a Navajo radio show at 5am and the distinct Tewa clucking at the back of the throat—an ancient, guttural manifestation of a radio broadcast. And a town, Taos, New Mexico, tucked before a horseshoe of mountains, contained the most magic. It cradled a silence between its horizons of snow and the smoke from homely fires—homes which retain a fundamental architecture of Native American heritage and prove sensationally efficient during brutal winters. One can become fulfilled from (and tortured by) one’s life work, or find one’s purpose through consummate, hard labor, or become satiated by theorizing in a grand hotel abyss. Taos, during my brief stay, was a town that harbored a scarcely found calm of unbound purpose, and assuredly will continue to in memory.