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On Mountain People: And what’s with the “Power of Conviction” Anyway?

Why do mountain people insist on living like mountain people? It is true, for example, that so many of the “Polish Mafia” hotel owners along the I-70 corridor that runs through the Rocky Mountains come from the Tatra’s  — a younger, glorious Mountain range with little villages (that survived Hitler’s attacks).

Himalayan  people often come to the Rockies, along with the mountain people of the Andes. So often they end up in the Rockies and vise versa. 

What is it? Hemmingway mentioned something about the power of conviction.  And he said this while back to the Baldy Mountain Range in Idaho, where he lived the rest of his days.

He said that he lived by “power of conviction and knowing what to leave out.” And as Hunter explained in his National Observer Piece in 1964 on Hemingway’s digs:

That Power  of conviction is a hard thing for any writer to sustain, and especially so once he becomes conscious of it. Fitzgerald fell apart when the world no longer danced to his music; Faulkner’s conviction faltered when he had to confront Twentieth Century Negroes instead of the black symbols in his books; and when Dos Passos tried to change his convictions, he lost all his power.


Today we have Mailer, Jones, and Styron, three potentially great writers bogged down in what seems to be a crisis of convictions brought on, like Hemingway’s, by the mean nature of a world that will not stand still long enough for them to see it clear as a whole.


It is not just a writer’s crisis, but they are the most obvious victims because the function of art is supposedly to bring order out of chaos, a tall order even when the chaos is static, and the superhuman task in a time when chaos is multiplying.

So Hunter wrote  that in 1964 and now, in 2012, it is still glaringly obvious why Hunter loved Woody Creek so much. Why I love it. Besides the brute beauty of the Rocky Mountain peaks from the porch of Owl Farm, You recognize an atavistic distinctness in the people that pique our sense of dramatic possibilities. It is a raw and peaceful little village.

From such a vantage point , a person tends to feel that it is not so difficult, after all, to se the world clear and as a whole.

Although I miss the city, and look forward to spending June in DC (Georetown U. program), nothing can replace the sense of peace that comes with the Mountains. Aint nothing that I know of. Oh, maybe the Pacific ocean. But that’s for another post. Ha.

Your friend in Woody Creek,

Anita Thompson

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