Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Earthbags and Mentalphysics

Ever want to live forever in your body?  I wouldn't, and probably most other people don't, so that may be why you have never heard of the religion of Mentalphysics.  They believe that if you think hard enough about it, you can become immortal. It didn't seem to work out so well for the founders.


Their philosophy might be kooky, but that is not why I am visiting the Institute of Mentalphysics today.  It was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for the founder of Mentalphysics, Edwin John Dingle (who changed his name to Ding Le Mei), and this huge complex contains meeting places, dormitories, cafeterias, and a swimming pool.  




 The architecture is a perfect fusion of the "prairie" style that Wright is so famous for and mid-century modern.  It is the details that make this place memorable, although the wearing of the years has been unkind to many of the buildings.  The motif is triangles, and they are repeated at every opportunity.






Notice the detail in the bricks at the corner of this dormitory.




Inside one of the meeting halls, there are several original fixtures hanging from the ceiling, but at some point one had been replaced.  Logically, it would make sense to replace it with a mission-style fixture, seeing as Frank Lloyd Wright was the father of the mission style and the designer of this building, but the result is some vulgar mission-style fixture from Home Depot that looks like a caricature of the understated simplicity that Wright is known for.  Most of the fixes on the aging buildings have been done with no thought for maintaining the beauty of the place, like a big red steel door with a half-moon window flanked by the original orange-and-clear glass side-lights.  





The landscaping is a perfect compliment to the architecture, and the grounds are so serene, I find myself wishing I could buy the place and make it our home.  Having a pool wouldn't hurt either. 




If Mentalphysics isn't strange enough for you, a stop at the Integratron might just fit the bill.  To the northwest of Yucca Valley is a round wooden structure built with no nails.  Why no nails?  I guess the Venusian aliens who gave George Van Tassel instructions to build a time-traveling, gravity-defying, immortality-giving dome thought it might interfere with the weirdo-rays they were beaming at him.  Just so I don't leave you in suspense, it didn't work, and Van Tassel kicked the bucket in 1978.  Now you can go take a "sound bath" inside the dome.

Just three miles down the dirt road from the Integratron is Giant Rock.  I didn't visit, but the history is certainly entertaining.


Driving back home, I spot a building on the surrounding hills that is a bit of a watershed moment for me.  My heart beats faster and my palms begin to sweat as I drive closer and closer down the dusty red road that leads to the funny-looking white lumps.  This is called an Earthbag house, or Superadobe.  


These have been built by a couple uses some of the outer buildings as vacation rentals.


Superadobe is sturdy, inexpensive, efficient, and absolutely beautiful.  It is bound to figure in our future plans in some capacity.

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