Places | Sacred Wonderland

The many Yellowstones: a simultaneity of places

In my first book I proposed the notion of “a simultaneity of places” where different people “make distinct places out of a shared space … according to their respective practices and their interpretations of the space” (page 4). In fact, the character and meaning of a particular place is as varied as the different ways that people occupy, use, and give meanings to the space. In this regard, places are more about the people who inhabit them than about any inherent qualities of the places themselves.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone from Artist Point
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone from Artist Point (Photo by T.S. Bremer, 2015)

Lately I’ve been thinking about the simultaneity of Yellowstone places. Even though it is a national park with all of the complicated and historically shifting meanings associated with that designation, Yellowstone is also (simultaneously) many other places as well. For instance, a few that come to mind:

  • A wild animal park
  • An awesome natural water features exhibit ground
  • A recreational playground for campers, boaters, fisherpersons, hikers, climbers, skiers, snowmobilers, and other assorted adventurers
  • A fitness training center
  • An art studio
  • A writers retreat
  • A movie set  
  • A classroom
  • A science laboratory
  • A worship space
  • A workplace for the nearly 4,000 employees who labor in the park

What other places is Yellowstone?—tell us about your Yellowstone places in the comments section.

Mount Holmes

Sulphured steam of the Porcelain Basin in the Norris Geyser Basin obscures the distant summit of Mount Holmes (Photo by T.S. Bremer, 2015)

[Daily post 064 of 260 in my year-long challenge.] ♨

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  1. Maybe I’m misunderstanding but you seem to imply our perception of place is more valid than the place (which often precedes humans by centuries). Of course if you’re coming from everything is illusionand our perception is the momentary reality, then maybe Yellowstone is other places. Or if everything is non-linear. I’d personally prefer to experience the place *as it is*.

      1. Thank you Mary for your comments. I am pleased that you are enjoying my posts. To clarify, I do not intend to imply that everything is illusion or that land, nature, etc., do not exist prior to human perceptions. My more modest claim is that locations become “places” (i.e., identifiable and meaningful locales) through human perceptions, practices, and interpretations. Giving it a name (e.g., Yellowstone), designating its use (e.g., national park, “pleasuring-ground,” vacation destination), and engaging in specific activities (e.g., sightseeing, camping, hiking, souvenir shopping) make an otherwise arbitrary location into a highly meaningful particular place. Do you think that a place “as it is” (i.e., without human perception or involvement) has meaning? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Best, Tom.

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