He lives in the mountains of Colorado and over the past few decades has, indeed, single-handedly built himself a castle. It leaps out of snowy mountains, an abstract stone and iron edifice that evokes a cross between Medieval Europe and the artist Salvador Dali.
It’s over 160 feet high, with iron walkways, giant stained-glass windows, an elevator and even a dragon that breathes fire.
Why did he build it?
“I just used my God-given talents best I know how.”
OK, but why?
I asked him that about 20 times and each response was different.
“Every man wants a castle.”
“Kings and pharaohs don’t use their hands, they use slaves. I’m better than a king.”
I think it’s safe to safe that his ego plays a part. But it’s also something more than that. He calls his castle a “political castle” and the whole project is part of his world philosophy. He doesn’t want the state meddling in his business; he doesn’t pay taxes and doesn’t believe in social security; he doesn’t believe in drivers’ licenses and says religion is nothing but politics. He wants to prove he doesn’t need the state, all he needs is himself.
This was our first conversation:
Jim: “What would you say if I told you 9/11 was an inside job?”
Selah: “I’d say that is your opinion.”
Jim: “That’s not an opinion — It’s a fact.”
Jim is 67 and petite but built like an ox. He seems calm and pleasant until he gets onto a subject that really bites him – like 9/11 – then he yells, gesticulates wildly, and even kicks things.
Don’t even think about mentioning FOX news or Barack Obama.
I wanted to strike a lighter note with him so I asked him what he does in his free time.
“I go dancing with my wife.”
“What kind of dancing?”
“Me and my wife, we made up our dance. It’s sort of a fast swing to disco music.”
The man doesn’t do anything by the book.
Even though he seemed a bit unhinged I had to respect him. It’s what we hear about a lot when it comes to Americans: individualism, can-do attitude, pioneering spirit. Jim Bishop’s got all that in spades.