I camped in the Andrew Molera walk-in campground this weekend at Big Sur with my friend Jon Pearce and his daughter and some of her friends.
Molera used to let an unlimited number of people camp there, which was nice in terms of going there, but the rangers came to feel the site was getting overused. Now there’s only 20 or so sites, no reservation, which is nice for those of a more spontaneous bent, just first-come-first serve. For the weekends, you pretty much have to show up by two or three in the afternoon on Friday; week days is usually easier. This time of year is nice in Molera, the meadow is still green, and the ground squirrels aren’t so ravenous as they are in, like, September when the ground are pretty much naked hard clay. I had a site right under this enormous old poplar tree, in the night the stars hung in it like lites. It’s so great to wake up and already be in Big Sur.
Jon didn’t show up till the second day I was there — I went early on Friday to secure a site — and Saturday morning I went alone to Pfeiffer Beach, thinking about the ending for Mathematicians in Love. I got a nice offer for it from Tor Books just the other day, and it's time to be wrapping it up and trimming it back. You're paid to do a mural, then the mural has to fit the wall. I pretty much figured the whole ending out at last; here’s a table that I drew in the sand.
The three rows are the three characters, the three columns are the three versions of each character (there’s three Earths), and the cells correspond to where that character-version ends up. As I’ve mentioned before, my characters are Bela, Paul, and Alma, and they go to another world called La Hampa by surfing through a “gate” that’s at Pfeiffer Beach. I remembered the gate as being wider, well, it will be in my novel which, after all, starts out on a different Earth and only ends up on ours. Here’s me and the gate.
I made a little 3 Meg MPEG movie of a wave coming through the gate. Click here to view movie.
I worked my way up along the beach and found this great creek running into the ocean; by walking into the gully where the creek comes out, I could get out of the fierce Big Sur beach wind. “Where the pine meets the brine.” It was a very beautiful spot.
I always like taking pictures of gnarly water, clouds, fire. Someday maybe I’ll make a long movie of gnarl.
Meanwhile I’m making MPEGs. This next one is 25 Meg, so don’t think of viewing it unless you have broadband and a few minutes to kill. It’s of me singing to some eddies in the stream. I'm very happy here. Click here to view movie. By the way, on the first run-through, a downloaded MPEG will be jerky, you have to then click the replay button to see it run smooth. The mike noise is air eddies hitting the unshielded holes on my camera. Maybe I'll tape some foam rubber over that spot.
Back on the beach, voila, God a. k. a. the Divine Muse had brought Bela, Paul and Alma to the beach to go out next to the La Hampan gate!
A bit hard to see them in the big picture, so here’s the zoom. Ready for the surfin' hampajump!
In the usual nature of magical apparitions, they disappeared after two or three minutes — they weren’t there when I walked back. They were in La Hampa.
Back at Molera with Jon and the young people, I was struck by a sunset view up the Big Sur River. It reminded be of being at the same spot in late August, 2004, right when I was finishing The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul and being momentarily struck with the fact that, deep down, despite what I argue in the book, I don’t really believe that everything is a computation.
As I write in one draft of the Lifebox book, “It was a hot day, that August, and I had the chance to stand in the cool clear flow of the Big Sur River, up to my neck in a big pool that accumulates right before the river flows across a sand bar into the Pacific. Standing there, I closed my eyes to savor the sensation of water and air. My arms were weightless at my sides, my knees were slightly bent, I was at perfect equilibrium. Each time I exhaled, my breath would ripple the water, and reflections of the noon sun would flicker on my eyelids. I was all there, fully conscious, immersed in the river. And I became powerfully aware of a common sense fact that most readers will have known all along: 'This isn’t a computation. This is water!'”
But, as I’ve mentioned on this blog, I had a follow-up vision in Micronesia when I decided that yes, maybe even water is a computation.
Sitting around the fire this weekend with Jon and the others, I was digging the computational gnarl of the flames, and for the first time tried photographing them.
Oh, one more cool thing. Friday I walked along the incredibly windy beach at Molera, and I propped a stick on a rock to see it balance. I’ve been thinking that as well as photographing gnarl, it’s interesting to photograph native or created bits of order in the wild, as Andy Goldsworthy does.
And then, oh joy, the stick started rocking wildly in the wind. I made a 6 Meg movie of that. Click here to view movie.