Geoclumping

A brief, compressed "clump" of information given before getting too deep into the topic can include geographical or geological background. Ken Kesey, in the very next paragraph after giving us that rapid bit of historoclumping about the establishment of Umatilla County, Oregon, decided we need a geographic feel for it:

Umatilla County. Two million acres. Drained by McKay Creek, Birch Creek. Out of the Blue Mountains. Towns. Hermiston, Stanfield, Echo, Adams, Helix, Athena, Milton-Freewater. And, as county seat, the biggest little city north of Reno— Pendleton, Oregon.

When Jan Morris wrote about her journey across Texas from Oklahoma in Trans-Texan, she gave readers a rapid ride across before giving us the details of her trip. In geoclumping, we leap across space the way we leap across time in historoclumping.

It is rather more than 600 miles down 281, from Red River in the north to Rio Grande in the south, across pleasant flatland counties with names like Jack or Archer, through the wooded hill country of the center, across the wider rolling ranchlands south of San Antonio into the tropic territories of the Rio Grande valley, where the palm trees stand in lordly enfilade, where the fruit and vegetables grow like lush weeds, and there seems to hang upon the very air some potent radiation of the south.

In Slouching towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion set the stage for a piece titled "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream," about a woman murdered on Banyan Street, by giving us directions to Banyan Street. The concrete details about the area are a form of geoclumping. She manages to compress a lot of information (which was probably in her field notebooks) by using this device.

Imagine Banyan Street first, because Banyan is where it happened. The way to Banyan is to drive west from San Bernardino out Foothill Boulevard, Route 66: past the Santa Fe switching yards, the Forty Winks Motel. Past the motel that is nineteen stucco tepees: "SLEEP IN A WIGWAM—GET MORE FOR YOUR WAMPUM." Past Fontana Drag City and the Fontana Church of the Nazarene and the Pit Stop A GoGo; past Kaiser Steel, through Cucamonga, out to the Kapu Kai Restaurant-Bar and Coffee Shop, at the corner of Route 66 and Carnelian Avenue. Up Carnelian Avenue from the Kapu Kai, which means "Forbidden Seas," the subdivision flags whip in the harsh wind. "HALF-ACRE RANCHES! SNACK BARS! TRAVERTINE ENTRIES! $95 DOWN." It is the trail of an intention gone haywire, the flotsam of the New California____

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