"Shape-changer, skinwalker, bruja, poltergeist, fantasma, a shadow on the wall, the feeling of eyes peering through the 2 a.m. window. Something is out there that does not fit the conventional explanations and the officials feel it in their bones, but refuse to say it with their mouths. Undocumented workers? Illegal alien? Wetback? Dryback? Yanqui imperialist? Pinche gringo? Narcotraficante? Refugee? Green card? Free trader? There is constant debate over terms, over what to call this thing moving at the edge of vision, this shape changer. We all feel so much more confortable with proper terms and better yet, numbers. Technocrats are desperate for both because without proper names and numbers, how can technocrats manage and without managing why in God's name do they even exist? I manage; therefore I am. This fantasy line called the border has a constant thumping of rubber stamps, and a constant clicking of fingers hitting keys on the computers that will save us all by managing us all. Now and then the secretariat gets a chilling glimpse: a reading off an infra-red screen, aliens moving freely in the cargo bay of a truck and falling on new soil, a statistic in a column of numbers, hummingbirds migrating without papers, a machine pistol chattering in the night, cholera, typhus, all manner of small life forms flowing and drifting without a thought to the regulations, the silent movement of an ice pick...Then again, it has the look of a flower, a lush beautiful thing blooming color, hypnotizing the eye, flaunting style, oozing sex, and beckoning with lust and love. Yes, a flower, that gaudy sexual thing we use for or weddings and use for our dead and use for our dreams. A rose?" - Charles Bowden, Chihuahua: Pictures from the Edge (1996; photographs by Virgil Hancock, essay by Bowden); U.S. writer

"...Something has gone awry, everyone notices this fact. The flowers have become somehow monstrous. They have become blooms beyond our taxonomy. They spread at will, crossing borders, boundaries. all known properties. They flourish under bridges, where the barely cool bodies are found in the sands, they burst suddenly into view on city streets, they leave imprints on the desert floor. Their pollen floats over the highest mountains and out over the blue waters. The stems host thorns, but that is not what alarms the authorities. The scent is powerfull, almost rank...No, it is something else that is frightening them. The novelty of the plant, the fact that it escapes simple taxonomic identification, that reality that no one yet can easily identify and put a name on. This inability to paste a simple label on the thing is driving the officials almost mad. The vigor of the growth also disturbs them - the way this living thing takes on air and water and light, the way it can devour trash and garbage and yet continue to flourish and breed and spread. The very health of the thing is an affront." - Charles Bowden, Chihuahua: Pictures from the Edge (1996; photographs by Virgil Hancock, essay by Bowden)

"Really, there are just two choices left. One is to continue this charade put forth by nations, this act that insists upon the reality of public order, public boundaries, and police. The other is to realize the charade is over. In the short run it is easier to go along with the current unreality. In the long run, it is impossible. So in the end the only real decision is when do we admit to what we see around us..." - Charles Bowden, Chihuahua: Pictures from the Edge (1996; photographs by Virgil Hancock, essay by Bowden)

"We make our decisions, and then our decisions turn around and make us." - Charles Bowden, Chihuahua: Pictures from the Edge (1996; photographs by Virgil Hancock, essay by Bowden)

"Let's do a review, tie it all up in a tidy bundle. Where to begin? Oh yeah, we're going to grow the economies. Capital can move, goods can move, people stay put. It is organized, we have treaties, all crisp and clear on paper, all cement and guns and stamps and sensors at a place called the border. Adjustments will be made, corn tarriffs lowered here, currency exchange rates shored up there, a pooling of data on illicit drug activities. Given time, the standards of living increase, everyone feasts at the new industrial order, the present is secured so that it has a future, the wealth of nations booms, the rational controls the flesh. This is a new world, one we are told is postmodern, or postcolonial, truly it must be post-Cold War. It is simply too hot here for a cold war to be possible. And history has ended, thank God, since we all recall from our schooling what a damn nuisance that history was...True, there will be adjustments, a steel wall here on the border, new search roads bladed there, improved customs houses, special permits, also. Every question that is raised about his new order or about this border is dismissed as a detail, a little problem to be easily solved as we sketch the big picture." - Charles Bowden, Chihuahua: Pictures from the Edge (1996; photographs by Virgil Hancock, essay by Bowden)

"There are at least two worlds that I know of. One that believes that it can all be directed from the top. The other one, the one swarming all around me, the one swarming within me, lives at the bottom and pays little or no attention to the directives from the top..." - Charles Bowden, Chihuahua: Pictures from the Edge (1996; photographs by Virgil Hancock, essay by Bowden)

"At the moment, we are apparently trapped in virtual reality. This cyberspace flings numbers at us. It tells us various police groups have caught huge numbers of illegal human beings. It says that the economies are perking right along or that any problems are statistical perturbations and will soon be ironed out. In this virtual reality low wages, unemployment, murder, narcotics traffic, mass migrations of the poor, depleted treasuries, worthless bonds, collapsing currencies, and giant loans to legendary deadbeats can all be massaged, made logical, wholesome, and nutritious. Watch the screen, boot up the program, crunch some numbers, bake a few pie charts and suddenly you can believe in the border and in order and in smooth sailing. Banks going under? No, simply a matter of restructuring. Wages falling through the floor? Hardly, great new career opportunities, simply an opening for job retraining. There is nothing now - starvation, desperation, murder, pollution, pain, flight, a needle in the arm, and relief flooding the vein - there is nothing now, I tell you, that we cannot handle with a spreadsheet..." - Charles Bowden, Chihuahua: Pictures from the Edge (1996; photographs by Virgil Hancock, essay by Bowden)