The house on the rock

When I was last in Chicago, dayo and I drove about three hours into Wisconsin to see a house.

Not just any house. To understand this particular house, imagine that you were a space alien. Imagine that you came from a strange culture that did not build buildings. Maybe you lived in caves, or, I dunno, burrowed parasitically into the flesh of gigantic alien space walruses or something. Or maybe you lived in trees like the elves in The Lord of the Rings, and went everywhere barefoot because your fantastically advanced magic hadn’t ever got so far as to develop shoes.

Anyway, the point is that you don’t build buildings. And then, let’s suppose you’d heard of a thing called a “house,” which was an enclosed structure divided into “rooms.” Armed with this knowledge, you set out to design and build a house, but you weren’t quite clear on what exactly a “room” was.

If you were this space alien, the house that you built would probably be The House on the Rock. The Web site and the brochures describe it as the “grand vision” of a guy named Alex Jordan, but I’d say it’s not so much a “grand vision” as it is a study in ad-hoc chaos and arguably the world’s greatest monument to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It’s an enclosed structure. It’s probably about a hundred thousand square feet or so, and it’s three stories tall, more or less. I say “more or less” because it wasn’t so much “designed” as it was thrown together over time by a man whose grasp of architecture and construction was theoretical at best, and the result is…um, well, it’s hard to actually call it a building, really.

You go in, and you find that it’s a hallway. It’s kind of like being inside a living organism, like the organic space ship on that science fiction TV series whose name I can’t remember with the one chick who’s really hot and shoots lots of people, only more so. The hallway winds and twists and ascends and descends more or less at random, and occasionally it widens out into a place with a bed, or a table, or some other object of furniture you might expect to find in a domicile. It’s hard to say how many rooms there are in this house, because the house doesn’t really do “rooms.” Wide spots in the hallway-tunnel-alien-innards-thing pass for rooms, for the most part, and going from one place to another sometimes involves taking a route that’s…unexpected.

I took many pictures, and they’re very large. For those of you who don’t mind the crushing bandwidth: onward!