Life in the Chocolate Mountains

"Life in the Chocolate Mountains" is the story of "a woman who finds an unusual way to enshrine the fragments of her past – and invites others to join her. At the beginning, she says: 'I came from L.A. to this unassigned territory because my life had fallen apart. It was the usual story.'

This piece was inspired by three unrelated events:

During a house move, I dropped a box of precious china dishes, shattering most of them. I realized that I had not unpacked any of these treasures at in years..

I visited the Watt’s Towers in Los Angeles and marveled at the bright shards of broken pottery and glass embedded in the cement spirals.

I saw an ad for land in the Chocolate Mountains – a desert and deserted no-where in south-central California – and the price was $100 an acre..

A visit to Death Valley had provided me with images and a sense of the constraints that the people and wildlife endured in that region.

I was also interested in working with a new kind of narrative structure and layout. I wanted the flora, fauna, water, and humans to have a kind of poetic presence, so there are interludes throughout that allude to the elemental quality of place.

This piece was done in html for the web. It has images, sound, a simple linked architecture, and text.

The narrator says: A symphony of reduced expectations you could call it. And in another way, the edge of survival has a quiet symmetry to it. Comes from the piecing together of things both worthless and precious. Lives in darkness even on nights of lavish moonlight. Slinks from the edges of the shadows. Has not a face about it, but eyes that watch for the moment. Resembles the humility of flowers that bloom for a day, animals that seek invisibility, water that runs into the sand without a trace. To the stranger, nothing has happened in the desert and nothing ever will. To the native, a pageant of fragments make a life." -- Marjorie Luesebrink


The Marjorie C. Luesebrink Collection

An unpublished copy.

Marjorie Luesebrink donated this work to the Electronic Literature Lab in September of 2021.