What Barry Lopez did in expanding our vision of the frozen North in Arctic Dreams, William Fox has done in broadening our perceptions of the desert expanses of the West's Great Basin.Roughly a quarter of a million acres of land spanning much of Utah and most of Nevada, the Great Basin is the highest and driest of the American deserts, a vast empty tract on the nineteenth-century maps of our continent. Explorers and cartographers found it imponderable; pioneers and settlers found it uninhabitable. And today the Great Basin remains a largely unknown and forbidding landscape, one that continues to exercise a powerful influence on human desire and imagination.The Void, the Grid, & the Sign guides us to a place so unusual and disorienting that it can overcome rationality and become the locus for our most fanciful and fearsome projections: mythical rivers, mammoth artistic earthworks, alien spaceships, jet-propelled race cars, and weapons of mass annihilation.In The Void, Fox walks us through this landscape, investigating our responses to the Great Basin's appearance -- a pattern of mountains and valleys on a scale so large, so empty and undifferentiated by shape and form and color, that the visual and cognitive expectations of the human mind are confounded and impaired.The Grid focuses on the evolution of cartography in the nineteenth century and the explorations of John Charles Fremont in his search for the legendary Buenaventura River. Fox invites us on a Great Basin road trip, tracing the net of maps, section markers, railroads, telegraph lines, and highways that humans have thrown across the void throughout history.The Sign considers the language and the metaphorswe continue to place around and over the void, revealing the Great Basin as a vast palimpsest where the neon-lined boulevards of Las Vegas overlay and interplay with millennia-old petroglyphs and pictographs.Through vivid and arresting prose drawing from the disciplines of natural history, art history, cognitive psychology, western history, archaeology and anthropology, The Void, the Grid, & the Sign traverses the knowns and the unknowns of the Great Basin, offering a tour de force of inquiry and thought.
| Univ of Utah Pr, March 1, 2000, cover price $21.95 | About this edition:
What Barry Lopez did in expanding our vision of the frozen North in Arctic Dreams, William Fox has done in broadening our perceptions of the desert expanses of the West's Great Basin.
| Univ of Nevada Pr, February 18, 2005, cover price $21.95