Un-immaculately Beyond Conception
“If we are always arriving and departing, it is also
true that we are eternally anchored. One’s destination
is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”
― Henry Miller, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch
Henry knows. Whether exploring the darkest depths of a debauched 1930’s Paris or exploring the depths of his own mind while living in near isolation in 1950’s Big Sur, it’s all the same. ‘Wherever you go, there you are’… and all that noise.
When the monotony of everyday sunny skies and flat seas fail to inspire; it’s time. Time to throw a notebook, camping gear, a couple boards, a many wine bottles into the car and drag that anchor north. Beyond Point Conception the water dips a few degrees, the coastline dances in and out of marine layer, and you won’t have to small talk about your morning surf. Maybe a friend joins or maybe you need to find yourself. Never more than two though and leave the photographer at home.
North is where the wedges get creepier. Where three is a crowd, but you don’t want to surf solo. Expand the mental library. Turn the phone off because there’s no service anyway and geo-tagging deserves a windshield waxing. Read a book. Sleep under the stars and rinse the salt off in freezing mountain streams. It’s the way wild bohemians have always done it in Big Sur. Don’t stay at the Post Ranch, but do charm a drink there for that opulent view ‘on the rocks.’ Instead get dirty and camp like a renegade. Go talk literature, mind expansion, and Off-Planet Intelligence with the staff and hanger-outers in the Henry Miller Library aka The Mothership. They’ll tell you some REAL shit.
Before surfers searched (and searched and searched) to destroy these coastlines, artists of a different sort were on a similar trip. Hunter S. Thompson spent time working as a security guard at a resort here in ‘61 where he published his first story. Not surprisingly about how the Bohemian image attracted people who annoyed residents:
“And on some weekends it seems like all seven million of them are right here, bubbling over with questions: “Where’s the art colony man? I’ve come all the way from Tennessee to join it.” “Say, fella, where do I find this nudist colony?” … Or the one that drove Miller half-crazy: “Ah ha! So you’re Henry Miller! Well my name is Claude Fink and I’ve come to join the cult of sex and anarchy.”
– Hunter S. Thompson
Perhaps these are the same culture vultures that are coming for our waves!
Around this time Jack Kerouac followed thesame path north and mirrored Miller in writing inspired work about the Big Sur area. It wasn’t just literary giants that thrived in these dark woods. Others in the eclectic mix include Ansel Adams, Trent Reznor, and countless other artists who discover creativity off the grid. Robin Pecknold, Fleet Foxes front-man, spent time holed up in a Mothership guesthouse writing large chunks of an album. Patti Smith, Arcade Fire, and many others have played intimate shows on the front lawn of the Henry Miller Library.
A trip beyond Conception may not procure the best surf or even cults of sex and anarchy, or maybe it will, but you wouldn’t tell if it did. The artisan culture air is thick there and at heart all surfers are artists. So open the mind and follow the path of Miller, Thompson, and Kerouac to a place beyond. – Sayer