David Schweidel and Robert Boswell’s What Men Call Treasure: The Search for Gold at Victorio Peak
Why does New Mexico lend itself so readily to treasure stories? Have you ever hunted for treasure in New Mexico or elsewhere?
In general, caves and mining claims seem to be associated with many treasure stories. Caves are places where treasures can be hidden and mining claims are essentially places where treasures are found naturally. Furthermore, another influencing factor is Hispanic culture in general. Spaniards are culturally associated with treasure seeking behavior due to their associations with piracy and gold. Since New Mexico in the land that is the confluence of these notions, treasure stories are only natural to the state’s culture. The land is rich in natural resources and poor in Western civilization and European establishments of government, education, etc. As a result, the idea of finding treasure, whether it is a natural resource or a hidden hoard, becomes one of the only ways that poor people in the area can become rich. It reminds me a little bit of the lottery craze. It seems that only poor working-class or unemployed people ever win. Why? Because they’re the only ones that play.
The obvious love of quick wealth aside, what do you think treasure hunting might reveal psychologically about treasure hunters?
Treasure hunting seems to be an American ideal. The whole notion of why poor people came here and continue to come here (though not so much anymore) is this notion of the American dream. As a result, on its most primal level, treasure hunting is the distilled notion of the American dream.
As with the American dream, treasure hunting can easily become an obsession in the same way that investing in a Ponzi scheme can become an obsession. People see red flags that there is no treasure or that the investment is a Ponzi scheme but they ignore them. Why? Because they’ve already put in so much that the idea that they’ve wasted the last ten years of their life or threw away 100 grand is so ;devastating that they would rather continue on the path rather than face reality. As a result, it is easier to believe that something is indeed out there.