> > enemy

Marion Morrison
Marion Morrison

I grew up in the Treasure Valley in rural, southwestern Idaho. At the time, the mid 1970s, fourth grade students in the public school system learned state history. Or at least a version of its history. (In recent years state history has been supplanted by a survey of world cultures within the fourth grade curriculum.) Though dispensed with rather broad ideological strokes, the details of these lessons amounted to a mostly benign, patriotic indoctrination–every day began with the Pledge of Allegiance. Somehow these lessons stuck and to this day I have, safely stored away, the knowledge that any good son of Idaho should be able to divulge upon request. State motto? Esto Perpetua (let it be perpetual). State flower? The syringa. State gem? The star garnet. State bird? The mountain bluebird. The list goes on. Within this introduction to state history some cultural deference was allotted in the discussion of the etymology of Idaho. The explanation given was that Idaho was/is an Indian word that in some capacity pertained to Mountain, or Gem of the Mountains. Details about which tribe and language, or the specific meaning, were elusive, but the narrative fit neatly within our History. Years later I would learn that Idaho, with its syllabic emphasis so suggestive of an indigenous tongue, is a romantic counterfeit–a dubious appropriation. But memory is fugitive and origin stories are generally specious, see virgins and apples. The past, and reality to an extent, is easily reshaped simply through the act or effort of remembering. Narratives twist, details fade; a fiction is born. Nostalgia and myth are deep and silent partners in this process. The West.
Behold! The sun coming down the mountain,
or enemy: