|[a] Calculated RL|
· 90% + Supplication at base temple
· Highly Varied Intensity of engagement at base temple
· Varied Travel up the mountain (see above)
· Varied “Sectarian” commitment (佛道儒)
· Varied Supplication at mid-mountain temples
· Varied pecialization within temples (e.g. 送子殿)
· Highly Varied External supplications (e.g. stone altars on path)
· 90% + Supplication at Zhurong Peak Temple
· Varied Intensity of engagement at peak temple
· Extremely Varied Visiting other temples on the “winding descent”
|[b] Spent RL|
This remains only the beginning. For example, the enormous array of temples between the base and the peak (clearly the start, climax, and finish of most incense-bearing journeys) are inaccessible to many travelers—arguably most of them today. While hikers have access to most temple sites on the long ascent, and cars or motorcycles can reach perhaps two-thirds of them, bus riders miss almost all temples on the mountain. Those who take the bus to mid-mountain may stop there to visit temples, but a cable car trip will take out of play all but two of the rest—even forcing pilgrims to backtrack to reach one of the major mountain temples at South Heaven Gate. In short, only the mountain-hiking pilgrim (a rapidly shrinking group) comes anywhere close to “blanketing the mountain” with incense. Moreover, there is no firm evidence that the “authenticity” of such travel is much valued, as we shall see.
What, then, are we to make of this? How can we find a way to theorize, and not merely to note clusters of ethnographically observed cases, as we have done up until now? Before we proceed, let us quickly review a number of intersecting themes at work on China’s southern sacred mountain.
· Buddhist “feel” (serious “religiosity”)
· Joint travel (almost no one travels alone)
· Rock carving (the pilgrim climbs through caverns of text)
· Historical issues (the Nationalists are commemorated)
· Longevity (a theme closely connected with the mountain)
· Secularism (today’s China takes this seriously, even on sacred mountains)
· Cosmology (the long tradition still shows itself everywhere)
|[c] Detail RL|
The danger here is, indeed, to be found in a profusion of historical, cosmological, and cultural detail. These things matter, and I have struggled to find a way to portray them in the rich detail they deserve, even as I seek to refine the analysis of "mountain spending." The interplay between cultural detail, historical context, and theoretical focus is always difficult in this kind of analysis. I would argue, however, that this "messiness" is precisely what the anthropologist can bring to the table in a full discussion of microeconomic choice on a sacred mountain.