TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT February 1990

LANGUAGE AND LANDSCAPE: AN ONTOLOGY FOR THE WESTERN

WHAT YOU SEE in the insets to the left are the opening shots of western movies, shots that put a whole set of values in place before a single word is spoken. I’ll discuss those values in more detail later. But for now, it is enough to say that this is the same world we enter when we read a passage from Louis L’Amour’s 1958 novel Radigan:

She had never felt like this before, but right now she was backed up against death with all the nonsense and the fancy words trimmed way. The hide of truth was peeled back to expose the bare, quivering raw flesh of itself, and there was no nonsense about it. She had been taught the way a lady should live, and how a lady should act, and it was all good and right and true. . . but out here on the mesa top with a man hunting her to put her back on the grass it was no longer the same. . . . There are times in life when the fancy words and pretty actions don’t

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