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Alan Turing Near Las Cruces, NM

[Today, some reworked travel notes from 1999 that may make their way into my novel-in-progress Turing & Burroughs. Photos from around Los Gatos and Berkeley in the last week of January, 2011.]

Alan Turing sat on the balcony of his room near Las Cruces, New Mexico, looking at the beautiful silhouette of some low mountains across a plowed field, the range like a long jawbone with teeth in it¬—a cow or dog jawbone that one might find in the woods. A dove sat on a twisting piñon branch in the shade of the tree’s main trunk, an iconic silhouette. A train not too far off was sounded its horn for the crossings in this land of trains.

A red squirrel ram up a twisty pine tree: the squirrel fit the tree, and the two of them fit Alan’s perceptions of what he should see. Everything fit. It struck him that he and the plants and animals and the skugs were all of a piece, they were all part of the same wetware world.

Before getting back on the road in the morning, Alan took a walk, admiring the clumps of prickly pear cactus, the lobbed with buds along their rims, and with yellow and red flowers sprouting amid the thorns. He liked how the cacti were so perfectly placed among the grasses and the dry red rocks. Nature’s wise and lovely designs, at the fertile border between order and chaos. Little lizards lifted up their striped tails to run away.

[Detail of “Turing and the Skugs,” see my paintings page for more info.]

Alan came across a hillside cemetery with a few cracked stones amid long grass and thick-trunked old cypresses, the trees not immensely tall. In the wind-blown grass, Alan accidentally stepped on something alive. It was a rather large lizard who’d been resting there, sluggish in the early sun. The weight of Alan’s foot had broken off most of the lizard’s tail, and it was frantically twitching on the ground. The lizard himself remained motionless. Alan had the notion the was wounded lizard was keeping himself under strict control, as opposed to his cut-off tail which had no control at all, desperately writhing.

With the federal police after him and his fellow skuggers, he needed to be like the lizard and not like the tail.

One Response to “Alan Turing Near Las Cruces, NM”

  1. Ernest Hogan Says:

    You captured the Southwest there. Reminds me of the strange Gila monsters that Em & I once saw near the Superstition Mountains — instead of the usual, short stubby tails, theirs were almost as long as their bodies, no one had caught them in a long time.

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