Selected quotes, notes and commentary on Forrest Fenn’s Video at the Moby Dickens Book Shop in Taos, New Mexico on November 2, 2013 by Toby Younis
I counted the audience from the back of the room at 40-45. Approximately ten raised their hands when Forrest asked how many knew about the treasure he’s hidden. He talked for almost an hour including a period of questions and answers. He recited the poem aloud, read from the preface of “Too Far to Walk,” and recited a couple of poems extemporaneously in response to various questions. I thought he was very at ease.
“So I bought this little treasure chest. 10 inches by 10 inches and 6 inches high.” (Probably just a mistake. Everything else describes it as 10x10x5 inches, rather than 6.)
(He pronounces “placer” in “placer nuggets” with a long “a” rather than the correct short “a” sound. (plah rhymes with blah).
“I wanted it to be visual enough, so that when a person found the treasure chest, and opened it for the first time they would just lean back and start laughing.”
“When I hid it and was walking back to my car, I started laughing out loud and I said ‘Forrest Fenn…did you really do that?’” (Noted: “…my car…” rather than “…the car…”)
“Yeah…this is perfect. Why can’t I influence somebody a thousand years from now?” (Referring to his hiding the treasure.)
“Nobody is going to happen on that treasure chest. You’re gonna have to figure out the clues in the poem and go to it.”
“There are several people that have deciphered the first two clues. I don’t think they knew it, because they walked right on past the treasure chest. And I’m not gonna tell those people who they are because one of them particularly would faint, I know. She’d tear the countryside up trying to figure out where they’d been…” (This sounds strangely like a variation of the response he gave to Stephanie at Collected Works when she asked if she or Dal had been closer to the treasure chest.)
“I don’t feel like I’ve given it (the treasure) away. Who ever finds it, is gonna earn it.”
“I’ve been asked that question… (How do you know the treasure hasn’t already been found?) I don’t really want to answer the question because that would be an answer that I don’t want to reveal. But, I can tell ya’ that no one has found the treasure.”
“So, it was 15 years from the time that I got cancer until the time that I hid the treasure chest. 15 years.” (The math doesn’t quite work out. If he got cancer in 1988 + 15 years = 2003. That would have made him 73, rather than 79 or 80 as he has said in the past. On the other hand, it coincides with the 15 years he had previously claimed it took him to write the poem. )
“The poem in my book is something that changed over and over again. When you read the poem it looks like just simple words the…but I guarantee you, I worked on that thing…I felt like an architect, drawing that poem. The original version of the poem said ‘Take the treasure chest but leave my bones and go in peace,’ or something like that. But then I got well and ruined the story.’”
“The treasure chest, I’ve said, is in a very special place to me and if I get another disease, on my last dying gasp I’m gonna throw myself on top of that treasure chest and I’m gonna dare you to come find me.”
Noted: He recites the poem from TTOTC. I made sure to take a copy with me. When he recites the poem, he doesn’t read it. It’s memorized, except for the last stanza, which he has to read from the copy I brought with me to the event.
Noted: He recites a poem taken from “Alice in Wonderland.” Interestingly, it has the same rhyme and metre in which the treasure poem is written.
“I think kids have an advantage (finding the treasure). Don’t ask me to explain that.”
“I believe that there’s a higher hand someplace. I don’t know what it is but…
“I believe in karma and some of those things. I’m not a religious person, but I’m probably the most spiritual person around.”
“…that’s why I told people I hid the treasure chest when I was 79 or 80 years old because I don’t want the exact date to be known because I’m afraid somebody will go check the rental car records and how many miles did Mr. Fenn put on the truck or the car…so I don’t answer those kinda questions…but shoot that person that sent in that email…” (The “…79 or 80…” contradicts what he said above, that it was 15 years between the time he got cancer and hid the treasure.)
“There are nine clues in the poem, but if you read the book (TTOTC), there are a couple…there are a couple of good hints and there are a couple of aberrations that live out on the edge.”
“I have not had anybody tell me the answer to that clue (the unintended one in TFTW). If you read my preface it doesn’t take a genius to figure out, I think, what they’re talking about but…there are clues in my new book that can help a person.” (This leads me to believe the 10 miles for TFTW is the unintended clue.)
“No. It isn’t.” (Responding to the question whether or not it was possible to find the treasure without leaving your computer and Google Earth.) There’s not a picture of the treasure on Google Earth…because Google Earth doesn’t go down far enough.
“Well there’s a major clue in the book (TFTW) but I don’t think it will help you find the treasure chest. I’ll tell you what the clues is. In the back of my book, there’s a map…and I’ve said the treasure chest is hidden in the Rocky Mountains. Here’s a treasure chest (he meant “treasure map”) of the Rocky Mountains. If you knew where the treasure chest is hidden, you could find it on this map. But the map stops at Canada. The Rockies keep going up there. But I said that it’s in the Rocky Mountains, which would include Canada. When this book was printed I didn’t realize that Benchmark Maps made this map stopped at the Canadian border so that’s a clue, but I don’t think…it’s not gonna help you much.”
“There are no clues in this book, (TFTW) but there are some hints.”
“What I tell people to do…if you’re really serious about looking for the treasure…get ‘The Thrill of the Chase’ and read it and then go back and read the poem over and over and over again. And then go back and read the book again, but slowly looking at every little abstract thing that might catch up in your brain, that might be a hint to help you with the clues. Any part of some is better than no part of any.”
Noted: He reads the end of the preface from TFTW beginning with “I put a small rubber dinghy in the Madison River…”
He quotes, extemporaneously, “Out of the night that covers me, dark is the pit from pole to pole. I thank whatever Gods may be for my unconquerable soul.” “And, I think that’s a good place to stop. Don’t you?” (This is the first stanza of the poem Invictus by William Earnest Henley, a British poet who died in 1903. The entire poem is 4 4-line stanzas, and can be found here. Again, interestingly, Henly’s poem uses the same four line per stanza rhyme and metre as Fenn’s treasure poem.)