Is Desert Wells College based on Deep Springs College?

Yes, and no. The school’s unusual location, unique pedagogy, and current legal dispute concerning coeducation provide the setting and circumstance for Ghost Writ; especially in the second dialogue, Yes & No, where they suggest an interesting matrix for the discussion of liberal arts education. But my use is based only on what I’ve read and can imagine about the place.

The closest I’ve come to Deep Springs College is the end of the driveway, passing by obliviously at 60 or 70 mph one night in the summer of ‘77 with two buddies from Berkeley on a meandering trip from LA to Reno fueled by Grateful Dead bootlegs and a couple of bags of magic mushrooms, cutting the rush — as Gilmartin Jacobsen says in a poem for another occasion, in the fifth dialogue — “with homegrown and cheap Italian wine.” High risk behavior, I can hear my pals eventually warning their own college-age children (yet-to-be-conceived and inconceivable at the time). In tricked-out Chevy van, windows down, gliding through the glow of a psilocybin-lit desert night, Bay Area band blaring the soundtrack of our quest, sharing hastily rolled joints and sloppy swigs from wicker-wrapped bottles, three twenty-something males hounded to hunt by hungry hearts. What could possibly go wrong? But that, as Joshua Cryst might say, is a story for another time.