He chose to refer to his dream confection for a California home (that we know better as Hearst Castle), as Casa Grande on the Enchanted Hill. More a Cathedral in appearance (based on the cathedral in Ronda, Spain) than a castle, and countless art works of Madonna and Child you could be forgiven for thinking that the Newspaper and Ranch Baron had deep underlying religious obsession. But not so!
My first view of the ‘castle’ is one of great curiosity. A bus brings us winding up the hill following the trail that Hearst’s father first climbed on the back of a donkey to reach his enchanted mountain in the mid-19th century. The tour continues and reveals a collection of rooms full of ‘nice curiosities’, but totally decontextualized – ancient Greek and Roman, Egyptian, medieval Christian and so forth. There’s no theme or any sense of culture; it lacks human engagement and explanation; and leaves me thinking that money can buy just so much, and mean nothing.
Both these worlds have now passed away. They are but remnants.
California Dreamin’ in the 21st Century is now happening further up the coast in Apple and the Googleplex of Silicon Valley.
Postscript – after writing this post, a pervading thought as I try to meditate: As timeless wisdom reminds us, “all things pass away”