THE MOUNTAIN OF ART
by Charlie Finch
Twenty-five years ago, Alex Shoumatoff published an extraordinary book called The Mountain of Names
, about the efforts of the Names Project of the Mormon Church to track down the name of everyone who had ever lived and store the monikers in a huge mountain in Utah, as a function of the specific soul redemption philosophy of the Mormon Church. Whatever one thinks of this extremely controversial mission, the specifics of this identification project were daunting. Putting aside the delicious irony that Mormonism began with a man named Smith, the number of Vietnamese, to cite one example, with the same name, who had ever lived, dwarfed the number of Smiths by a factor of 10.