Despite the theme of a difficult, overwhelming environment in last week’s post, the Anasazi left many ruins that seem sturdy enough to stand up to it, and perhaps even be a source of power. Sometimes, in the photograph, that impression comes from strong lighting of a well-built structure.


Other times it is the rock itself that seems to herald strength. The otherwise unprepossessing buildings below appear to be emitting more thunderous bolts than Zeus himself.


It is interesting to speculate about whether such aesthetic or psychological details of setting influenced where the Anasazi built their dwellings. Physical factors such as accessibility, orientation toward the sun, and exposure to the weather can certainly account for much of the choice. From my own unsystematic observations, I can see no evidence for less functional considerations. In any case, I’m leery of the assumption that my reactions are anything like those of the original inhabitants. On the other hand, there are some plausible generalizations that one could make. Characteristics such as small vs. large, open vs. closed, light vs. dark might have a more universal significance. If you were building your own cliff dwelling, would you care? How important a factor were aesthetic aspects of the surroundings in your choice to live where you do now?