Thursday, November 11, 2010


The mythological Phoenix is a fire-bird that lives for many years then builds itself a fire and re-emerges to live again. This re-emergence from the fire has strong mystical suggestions - immortality, reincarnation, baptism by fire, survival of apocalypse; and the phoenix or firebird appears not only in ancient mythology but also in many varied folkloric tales down the centuries. It is possibly the most well known mythical creature after the dragon. To be 'reborn like a phoenix from the fire' is a phrase indicating hope, rebirth, survival and renewal.

How strange then to be caught in a hotel bar in Phoenix, Arizona with a couple of neo-right conspiracy theorists who believed that the democrats in America have a plot to keep giving 'handouts' to poor people because 'poor people have the vote' (implication: they shouldn't) with the sole aim of remaining in power indefinitely. Oh, and America is the greatest country ever known to history and the individual reigns supreme. I left hurriedly, not quite ready to be consumed in the fire, still a bit uncertain about rebirth.

Annette locator: Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix Arizona is the fifth most populous city in the USA, although you don't get the impression of crowds here - everything is spread widely over the desert floor. The sky is that clear limpid blue you find in the desert - different from the blue of the coast, but full of clear light. To a London now-habituee it is as if someone finally turned the lights on. The low hills I can see from the hotel-resort where I'm attending a conference are a lovely blue-purple colour. Here there is green grass (rolled out and watered) and lots of water in pools and artificial creeks, and desert gardens with cactus.

We are in the Sonoran desert, and Phoenix is said to have the hottest climate of any city in the USA. Being in the desert, it also has fine fiercely cold nights, and the hotel lights fire-pits on its terraces after dark, which falls with a sudden clang at about 6.30 pm. At the moment daytime temperatures are getting up to the mid 20s Celcius and it's possible to get a little sunburnt if you are not careful.

Apparently Phoenix was originally called 'Pumpkinville' in honour of the crops grown when irrigation was first installed. The more lofty name 'Phoenix' was suggested to indicate a city born from the ashes of an earlier civilisation - the area was first inhabited by an ancient civilisation called the Hohokam, who built early canals to water the region for agriculture. The things you learn from Wikipedia.

The conference has been busy. It is with the usual feeling of warmth that I return to my 'tribe' - the IP attorney world. Friends from far and wide are gathered to 'network', as we call it. A workable, descriptive word which nevertheless misses many nuances of the relationships going on here. And such lovely sunshine!

Phoenix image from:

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