13 July 2010
I'm glad I saw this without knowing who the speaker was, so that I could wonder about the back story. At first I wondered whether the person was in the Himalayas (which I have been reading about) but Yosemite was on the video title. I thought that the person was camping, not accustomed to people having this sort of view in front of their house.
Comments about this video on Huffington Post and Youtube illustrate how one conditioned response to the perception of nature relates to another conditioned response. Vasquez is happy not just about the double rainbow, but the fact that the double rainbow validates his rationalizations to live at the precise spot where he lives and, by extension, his persona, which is organized around immersion in nature and Indian heritage. A person on a camping trip would be more likely to think such a rainbow was routine, or perhaps be socially conditioned to relate their enchantment in a more understated manner.
Vasquez denies being on drugs, though he admits to drug use at other times. I'm not saying I don't believe him, but he would have incentive to say that he isn't on drugs, as admission to drug use may inhibit the media promotion of the video. Reactions to the ecstatic reaction to the double rainbow often center more around people's opinion of the morality of drug use than how nature should be appropriately rendered linguistically. Of course, people's perception of these two issues overlap, though many dedicated campers are anti-drug, people who have low opinions of drug users often have low opinions of naturalists.
Without question, Vasquez views this as a religious experience, and the ecstasy traditionally associated with religious experience has always elicited divided reactions. What interests me more, though, is how understatement functions: the fact that the creed of linguistic understatement is in this social division aligned with apathy towards nature while overstatement is here aligned with affirmation of nature. Other situations, such as the excitement over the economic benefits of a strip-mining project, would align overstatement and understatement differently. My fear of being at an analytical distance to the baroque cannot be separated from the fear of fate, or fate operating as the fear itself.