In California Desert, Father and Daughter Find the Sublime

3/26/2016 - Associate Professor of History Diana K. Davis in The New York Times.

Certain trips require a little deepening first — the capacity for abstraction and clunky poetic metaphors about existence. In Cora’s young mind I sensed room for some next-level travel, aimed not at museums or beach resorts but eerie vastness. And so: to the desert! We arrived in Palm Springs on a hot Friday evening and pointed the rental car in the direction of the greatest darkness.

I emailed Diana K. Davis, a University of California, Davis, history professor who’s written about conceptions of the desert. “Western thought,” she wrote to me, has largely “conceived of deserts as abnormal, exotic, and frightening to the point of terror in many cases.” But this thinking has been driven by ignorance about ecology, indigenous populations and so forth, she added.

Read the full story in The New York Times.