Author Topic: Jack Circles the Earth  (Read 5528 times)

Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Jack Circles the Earth
« on: January 11, 2009, 02:04:20 am »
As always, I apologize if this topic has come up in Open Forum before.

But, this topic came up in chat today during the one of the viewings of the movie and I thought I'd tackle it here.  I've heard it said that if you try to calculate the number of miles Jack must have driven over the years to meet up with Ennis... you come up with a number that indicates he probably circled the Earth's circumference at least once if you add up all his likely trips.  Of course, all of this is approximate since we don't know exactly where he met Ennis for each trip, and we don't know exactly how many trips he made.  But, we can make some educated guesses and even the approximations are impressive here.

So, I made a quick study of this.  The Earth's circumference north-south is 24,859.82 miles.  And, the Earth's circumference at the equator is slightly larger: 24,901.55 miles.

The distance between Childress and Riverton according to MapQuest (I just typed in generic Childress and generic Riverton) is: 920.5 miles.  Since we don't know exactly where they met up on each camping trip, I figured Riverton was as good as any marker for his Wyoming destination, especially since Riverton is approximately in the center of Wyoming.

Between 1967 and 1982 (15 years) let's be optimistic and assume that Jack and Ennis met up twice each year, giving us 30 trips.  Plus one trip in 1983.  Giving a total of 31 likely or possible trips. 

920.5 x 31 = 28,535.5 miles  :o

So by either the equatorial standard (24,901.55 miles) or the meridional standard (24, 859.82 miles), Jack probably more-than circled the Earth once in his quest to be with Ennis.

It's a really fascinating thing to think about.

And, I think it's also interesting to think about in terms of Jack's symbol, the wind.  The idea that the wind is in constant motion and is like a jet stream circling the earth in different ways makes a lot of sense for Jack, who is essentially in constant motion.  And, it's even more interesting if you think about the possibility that Ennis's nature symbol is the earth/Earth.




** edit... actually, it just occurred to me that 950.5 is just the distance one way between Riverton and Childress.  So, his driving mileage is actually double what I just wrote.

The full distance would be:  1841 x 31 = 57,071 miles.


« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 05:18:44 pm by atz75 »
the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline Front-Ranger

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 26,161
  • Brokeback got us good.
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2009, 02:09:28 am »
You have taken science and made it into art, my friend! I feel pleasure and pain at reading this information, but I'm glad I know it!!

Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2009, 02:15:39 am »
You have taken science and made it into art, my friend! I feel pleasure and pain at reading this information, but I'm glad I know it!!



Thanks Lee!  But, I just now realized I made a major error in my first post.

920.5 is only the distance one way between Childress and Riverton.  The full / round trip would be 1841 miles.

So, 1841 x 31 = 57,071 miles.

It turns out Jack has the Earth's circumference beat hands down.  :o

the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2009, 02:21:07 am »
LOL, doing math at 1:20 in the morning is not the best idea!

But, this was a fun exercise.

the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline Front-Ranger

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 26,161
  • Brokeback got us good.
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 02:22:04 am »
I am not surprised. Jack would, and did, go to the ends of the earth for love. He had his priorities in order; he knew that the Big Horns were not in Texas. And he never did quit Ennis. Ever.

Too much to do. . .I don't have time to get old!

Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2009, 02:25:39 am »
I am not surprised. Jack would, and did, go to the ends of the earth for love. He had his priorities in order; he knew that the Big Horns were not in Texas. And he never did quit Ennis. Ever.



Yes, I'm not surprised either.  But, it's really overwhelming to think about someone living like that for so long.  I'm sure he was happy enough to get away from Texas and even happier to be seeing Ennis on all those trips.

But, it puts his huge frustration and his behavior following the rejection he receives from Ennis in the post-divorce scene in new perspective. 

the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline LauraGigs

  • Moderator
  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,447
    • My Design Portfolio
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2009, 04:34:31 am »
Quote
And, it's even more interesting if you think about the possibility that Ennis's nature symbol is the earth/Earth.

Well, Ennis is Gallic(?) for Island, and an island can't move. And earth, as a metaphorical symbol, is thought of as immovable. Jack's life definitely revolved around Ennis. Even when they first encounter each other, Jack moves; Ennis doesn't.

Interestingly though, the single most joyful scene for Ennis seems to be the tussle scene, where he takes Jack's shirt and runs, teasing and frolicking. Where Jack's biggest joy is the perfect stillness of the dozy embrace.  A yin and yang thing for sure — where each craves an element of the other to be complete.

Offline Monika

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • BetterMost 5000+ Posts Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,586
  • We are all the same. Women, men, gay, straight
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2009, 05:52:10 am »
Love this thread!


Though earth is unmovable, wind does shape landforms, and thatīs what Jack does to Ennis.

Offline Penthesilea

  • Town Administration
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 14,490
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2009, 06:41:21 am »
In the greater scheme of things the earth is not unmovable. It moves around itself - a very small circle, so to speak, just around the coffeepot, like Ennis.

It also moves around the sun. But this takes a long time. It doesn't happen at a speed that you can actually notice it. The transformations it causes (=seasons) are very slow. But they are there nonetheless.
Ennis is also slow with changes, it takes him many years. Too many, sadly. But he changes nonetheless:

- the maybe Texas scene
- his "I can't stand this no more" comment at the lake side argument
- dumping Cassie
- the lightbulb moment in the bus station
- and finally after Jack's death.

I know some people think different, but I've always believed (and still do so) that Ennis would have come around eventually. He had almost found the handle, as FRiend Lee phrased it.

Offline Monika

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • BetterMost 5000+ Posts Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,586
  • We are all the same. Women, men, gay, straight
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2009, 08:22:54 am »


- the maybe Texas scene

what change did you see happen here?

Offline Penthesilea

  • Town Administration
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 14,490
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2009, 08:59:08 am »
what change did you see happen here?

About the maybe Texas scene:

Actually, I agree very much with what you are saying. To me, Ennis clearly has an intention in this conversation. He wants to talk about them/their relationship/his fears. He asks three times. First he asks whether everything between Jack and Lureen is normal. Not: if everything is all right, going well, they're happy together or whatever. No, he asks whether it's normal. Why should it not be normal? Because Jack is gay.
After Jack reacts only casually (and lying, I agree with this opinion, and I also agree he lies with good intentions, to not upset Ennis), Ennis asks a second time, he digs deeper "She never suspects?" Again: what could she suspect? Well, the same thing Alma found out.

Again, Jack just shrugs it off. Ennis then really lets his hair down in his third attempt, the question about people on the pavement knowing .

I think this scene was a rare moment of truthfulness and openness for Ennis, he's practically saying they're gay. I think the "not queer" denial is past him at this point. He has figured it out. He turns to the only human being in the world he can approach with his thoughts and fears. He's looking for reassurance and guidance from Jack - but Jack has his own (understandable) agenda and fails to react appropriately. Missed chance, again.

Compare Ennis in the the maybe Texas scene to Ennis in the I ain't queer scene.

More on the maybe Texas scene here: http://bettermost.net/forum/index.php/topic,17481.0.html

Offline Monika

  • BetterMost Moderator
  • BetterMost 5000+ Posts Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 6,586
  • We are all the same. Women, men, gay, straight
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2009, 10:17:44 am »
About the maybe Texas scene:

Compare Ennis in the the maybe Texas scene to Ennis in the I ain't queer scene.

More on the maybe Texas scene here: http://bettermost.net/forum/index.php/topic,17481.0.html
thatīs interesting, thanks Chrissie.

personally Iīm not sure though, that Ennis thinks about what he and Jack do, as "gay" or "queer". He simply thinks that itīs wrong and he knows that other people think so too, but that have already been established earlier on. I think however that itīs probably vey rare that he even addresses their sexual relationship, so that could hint to a change.

Offline LauraGigs

  • Moderator
  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,447
    • My Design Portfolio
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2009, 02:26:03 pm »
In the greater scheme of things the earth is not unmovable. It moves around itself - a very small circle, so to speak, just around the coffeepot, like Ennis.

This sparks a thought: Ennis and Jack are in their element camping together, where everything centers around the circular fire area (sun).

Jack is boldest and puts all his big moves on Ennis — propositioning him, proposing the cow+calf operation — on the full moon.

;)  (Incidentally in American slang, "mooning" means showing someone your bare ass!)

« Last Edit: August 15, 2009, 01:19:52 pm by LauraGigs »

Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2009, 02:29:27 pm »
Well, Ennis is Gallic(?) for Island, and an island can't move. And earth, as a metaphorical symbol, is thought of as immovable. Jack's life definitely revolved around Ennis. Even when they first encounter each other, Jack moves; Ennis doesn't.

Interestingly though, the single most joyful scene for Ennis seems to be the tussle scene, where he takes Jack's shirt and runs, teasing and frolicking. Where Jack's biggest joy is the perfect stillness of the dozy embrace.  A yin and yang thing for sure — where each craves an element of the other to be complete.

Heya Laura!

This is a fantastic post!  Thanks so much!

I love the observation about Ennis showing joy while in motion during the happy tussle and Jack's greatest happiness in the moment of stillness in the flashback.
Really wonderful.


I do think each man really desired elements in the other's personality.  I think Jack wanted to be liberated from having to be in constant motion and Ennis really desired to be liberated from his rut and the sense of being stuck (in many different ways).  Jack and Ennis really are great examples of opposites attracting and completing one another.  

And Chrissi, I like you observation that the Earth is in motion in it's own way.  Rotating around itself.  And the wind is bound to the Earth in an interesting way.  And, the idea that the wind is a force that can mold and reshape the Earth is also really interesting.  All of these metaphors really do seem very profound when you think about these two characters.


But, back to the more pragmatic issue of Jack traveling so much...  The fact that he circled the Earth's circumference about two times throughout the years in his desperation to be with Ennis seems very extreme to me.  By the end, the fight by the lake, was Jack beginning to feel like this enormous effort was really was futile?  I wonder if Ennis's comment about not traveling (any more than around a coffeepot) was more hurtful than it might seem on the surface.



the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline serious crayons

  • Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 19,193
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2009, 03:11:59 pm »
Interesting post, Bud! Actually, I never realized that circling the globe was so feasible. For instance, it's the equivalent of only 31 round trips between Minneapolis and Chicago.



Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2009, 03:07:57 pm »
This sparks a thought: Ennis and Jack are in their element camping together, where everything centers around the circular fire area (sun).

Jack is boldest and puts all his big "moves" on Ennis — propositioning him, proposing the cow+calf operation — on the full moon.

;)  (Incidentally in American slang, "mooning" means showing someone your bare ass!)

It's interesting to think of Jack's activity of driving so much as instantly leading us to many different major nature symbols.

I really like the suggestion that the fire circle is like the sun.


On a more pragmatic/human level, how healthy does Jack's willingness to go to these extremes seem?  If he way-more than cirlced the Earth in the amount of miles he drove, in order to be with Ennis... what does that say about his level of desparation.  It's very romantic to think driving around the Earth in a quest for love, but at the same time it seems to indicate something really rather bleak.  To me, it really does shed new light on his attitude during the lake side argument.

Ennis undoubtedly made sacrifices for the relationship too.  Continually quiting jobs for Jack seems to be the closest equivalent in terms of personal decision-making to  Jack's constant driving.

the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline Penthesilea

  • Town Administration
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 14,490
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2009, 05:08:05 pm »
On a more pragmatic/human level, how healthy does Jack's willingness to go to these extremes seem?  If he way-more than cirlced the Earth in the amount of miles he drove, in order to be with Ennis... what does that say about his level of desparation.  It's very romantic to think driving around the Earth in a quest for love, but at the same time it seems to indicate something really rather bleak.  To me, it really does shed new light on his attitude during the lake side argument.


You know, Bud, to me this somehow sounds dramatic. But I happen to see the many, many miles Jack traveled not so dramatic, or even "extreme", as you called it. Given that circling the earth twice to see your lover sounds pretty dramatic on first sight, but you have to see it in context:

- Jack had multiple benefits from doing all the travelling, being with Ennis the most important of course

- But he also got away from a marriage he could do over the phone, from his daily chores (LD) in Texas, from a life he didn't want. Clearly the times they had together were vacation times for both.

- And I bet in general Jack enjoyed their being outdoors (riding, fishing?, camping, etc), minus the friggin cold of course ;D.

- He used to visit his folks up in Wyoming after his trip with Ennis. We don't know whether he went to LF every time he was in WY, but I'd say most times.

- In his life Jack drove many miles on trips NOT in connection with Ennis: living on the the rodeo circuit for years, his buying trips (where he found ways to spend his money), his trips to Mexico.

- Jack circling the earth almost twice was done in 16 years. That's a long time. Put it yearly (based on your estimated two trips a year) and you get 3680 miles per year. For the kilometer people: that approx. 5600km. Put this in relation to Jack's overall mileage per year (which we don't know, but have reason to think it was pretty high). I think at the end of his too short life, Jack had a huge deal of mileage on his personal odometer. And a good part of it for Ennis, but Ennis WAS an important part of his life, so ... it seems not out of proportion.


- An aside thought: theoretically, do you think Jack would have wanted Ennis to come down to Texas for a fair share of their trips? I don't think so, I think it was in Jack's interest to keep his two worlds apart. Lureen would surely have been curious about Ennis, it would have been hard to explain to her why she never can meet Ennis.
(I hear people saying: but Jack suggested Ennis to move to Texas.  - Totally different situation)


Sooo, finally my conclusion:
Yes, Jack drove lots and lots of miles for Ennis. And yes, it was a big effort and a sacrifice he made. To me personally, it got more palpable after making two trips from Denver to WY and around WY, and in the process thinkin more than once 'Oh my, Denver is only half the way from Childress'. It's different to read about it, and to experience it first hand.

But I don't find it "extreme". And it wouldn't cross my mind to ask whether it was "healthy".

Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2009, 11:31:48 am »
Bump! 8)

the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie

Offline mariez

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost 1000+ Posts Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 4,084
  • "you bet"
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2009, 01:17:54 pm »
Oh, thanks for bumping this, Amanda  :)  I'd missed it.  I enjoyed reading all the thoughtful observations.  Chrissi saved me a lot of time and thought, though - I agree with everthing she's said.  It's not that I don't appreciate and understand his efforts and his sacrifices, but I really don't find Jack's actions all that extreme or unhealthy. I do think they both ended up sacrificing a lot, in different ways, that neither of them really understood about the other. 



The measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis         ~~~~~~~~~Thurgood Marshall

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.    ~~~~~~~~~ Mark Twain

Offline miniangel

  • Jr. Ranch Hand
  • **
  • Posts: 39
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2009, 04:16:12 am »
I just noticed this thread. Funny, I wondered the same thing myself when I was writing a bit of slash a year or so ago:

From The Outland, Ch. 1 --- "The road to Lightning Flat: how many times had Jack driven that road after one of their fishing trips? Had Ennis even thought about it? Seems as though he was always too wrapped up in his own journey, getting his mind back on the job, trying to sweep away all thoughts of Jack until the next time. Tried not to think to hard on Jack barrelling through this lonesome landscape after saying goodbye, then taking the long road back to Texas, alone. And how many times over those sixteen years had Jack red-lined it to him? At least thirty, have to be, maybe more. Twelve hundred miles there, twelve hundred miles back. A figure from Ennis's schooldays drifted into his brain: the circumference of the earth is twenty-four thousand miles. So every ten trips - fuck, how many times had Jack circled the world just to be with him? How many times? And how many times had Ennis thought Jack might continue doing it? And where would it all have ended?

But it had already ended, and Jack was lying up at Lightning Flat, helpless and unconscious, and for once it was Ennis doing the miles."

Offline Brown Eyes

  • BetterMost Supporter!
  • BetterMost Moderator
  • The BetterMost 10,000 Post Club
  • *****
  • Posts: 10,375
Re: Jack Circles the Earth
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2009, 11:39:42 am »
I just noticed this thread. Funny, I wondered the same thing myself when I was writing a bit of slash a year or so ago:

From The Outland, Ch. 1 --- "The road to Lightning Flat: how many times had Jack driven that road after one of their fishing trips? Had Ennis even thought about it? Seems as though he was always too wrapped up in his own journey, getting his mind back on the job, trying to sweep away all thoughts of Jack until the next time. Tried not to think to hard on Jack barrelling through this lonesome landscape after saying goodbye, then taking the long road back to Texas, alone. And how many times over those sixteen years had Jack red-lined it to him? At least thirty, have to be, maybe more. Twelve hundred miles there, twelve hundred miles back. A figure from Ennis's schooldays drifted into his brain: the circumference of the earth is twenty-four thousand miles. So every ten trips - fuck, how many times had Jack circled the world just to be with him? How many times? And how many times had Ennis thought Jack might continue doing it? And where would it all have ended?

But it had already ended, and Jack was lying up at Lightning Flat, helpless and unconscious, and for once it was Ennis doing the miles."


Thanks for that!  The Outland's a very good story!  And, you're right, that passage fits in with some of the observations in this thread well.

the world was asleep to our latent fuss - bowie