BLOG: To Become Visible

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  • Entanglement: An Incidental Inquiry

    “Caught in the affectIve entanglements of inquiry, it becomes unclear who is animating what and what is animating whom.”   Natasha Myers [1]

    Artifacts, evidences, entangle not only inquiry but the very ground.  Ground in the sense of the foundation of what we see and believe to be true. Each particular extends away to the edge, to a between, to a curve out of sight.  Evidence always implicates its source, its placement, its sedimentation.

    As Tim Ingold reminds us, “The environment comprises not the surroundings of the organism but a zone of entanglement. Life in the open, far from being contained within bounded places, threads its way along paths through the weather world.”[2]

    The photo-images assembled in the Evidence:Entanglement, an incidental inquiry, were recorded during a few days in November 2019 adrift in borderlands of Oregon-California-Nevada, the conjured Three-Corners.  These lines from Wallace Stevens’s A Postcard from the Volcano come to mind:

    And least will guess that with our bones  
    We left much more, left what still is  
    The look of things, left what we felt

    At what we saw.

    [1]  Natasha Myers, from Becoming Sensor in Sentient Worlds, in Between Matter and Method Encounters In Anthropology and Art (2018), Editors: Gretchen Bakke and Marina Peterson.
    [2] Tim Ingold, "Bindings against boundaries: entanglements of life in an open world" (2008). In Environment and Planning (journal).
    
[3] Wallace Stevens, "A Postcard from the Volcano" (1923) in Collected Poems (1954).
    Photo above: Petroglyph, Canyon Wall
    Photo below:  Tower anchor, Pacific Intertie - Powerline conveying electrical current from hydropower (The Dalles Dam on The Columbia River) to 2 million homes in Los Angeles.

  • The Third Person

    The third person and third space are at once between and antecedent to the oppositional differentiation of subject and object or self and other, effecting an opening to the universe in all its turbulent generativity.  Stuart McLean [1]

    This petroglyph is located in the borderlands region of what is now California and Oregon. This high country bridges the north-south trending expanse Surprise Valley basin east of the Warner range and the Warner Lakes Basin between the massive uplift blocks and escarpments of Abert Rim, Lynch’s Rim, Greaser Rim, and Hart Mountain.  It is the traditional lands of the Northern Paiute who arrived in the area several hundred years ago as part of northward migration and who occupied the country when euro-americans arrived and, within a few decades, pushed the indigenous peoples onto reservations.

    Most of the rock art in this region was produced by early peoples over many millennia. This contributes to the ambiguity of this figure I call Spirit-Being-Pronghorn. A hybrid person, it seems to combine Lizard, Human, and Pronghorn [2].  We can look at it, wonder about its place in this country, and we look with it, east across the flat, open, changing land of the Pronghorn, the Coyote, and now mostly the Cattle.  This petroglyph then is not passive; this Being, as McLean suggests, through its active agency both creates and reproduces the universe.  This is necessary because all life is cyclic, abundance fleeting, death recurring.  Hence Spirit-Being-Pronghorn could as easily be Pronghorn-Being-Human, or Lizard-Spirit-Being.
    [1] Stuart McLean, ‘IT’ in Posthuman Glossary (2018) edited by Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova.
    [2] In most ethnographic reports, collected tales, and many rock art studies Antilocapra americana is referred to as Antelope.  Biologists and some Archaeologists usually use Pronghorn. It is known as Pronghorn antelope and American antelope among other names.

  • Drift Remote: Princesses, Power, Petroglyphs

    Living means leaving traces.   Walter Benjamin [1]

    This is why the imaginary and the real must be, rather, like two juxtaposable or superimposable parts of a single trajectory, two faces that ceaselessly interchange with one another, a mobile mirror.   Gilles Deleuze [2]

    Do not clean off dust specks, they are real.    Benoit Mandelbrot [3]

    Rock art search/re/search and plain walking in remote places becomes a drift as traces animate fragmenting juxtapositions. (Album: Northwest Nevada Drift)

    DO NOT RELEASE OUTDOORS OR NEAR ELECTRIC POWER LINES — MAY CAUSE POWER OUTAGES reads the warning on the Disney Princesses Mylar balloon tangled in the brush rim-edge. Where from?  Why here?  Here: 1/3 mile from the Pacific Intertie powerline conveying high-voltage direct current — electricity without interruption — from the Columbia River’s Dalles Dam to Los Angeles. The LA converter station is less than 20 miles from Disney’s Animation Studio in Burbank.  Standing on the rim with petroglyphs below I can see the towers and hear the hum of electrified hydropower flowing south. Power that supplies nearly 50% of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power electrical system's peak capacity; enough to serve 2-3 million LA households.  

    Petroglyphs, fur, bones, stones, glass, Mylar (aluminized plastic) — agency is diffuse.  Rock art search/re/search becomes a lost and found endeavor: the fizzle of classification, the thickening of lattice.  Vibrant material-realities illuminate evidence; a montage where meanings fold and unfold. Memory, the past in/of the now, curates an equivalence called future. The Princesses touched down in a graceful re-entry with no wish to blow LA’s fuses. 
    [1] Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism. Verso Books 1997.
    [2] Gilles Deleuze. Essays Critical and Clinical, trans. Daniel D. Smith and Michael A. Greco. 1997.
    [3] Benoit Mandelbrot. Fractals and Chaos: The Mandelbrot Set and beyond. 2004.

  • Credences of Summer


    Postpone the anatomy of summer, as
    The physical pine, the metaphysical pine.
    Let's see the very thing and nothing else.
    Let's see it with the hottest fire of sight.
    Burn everything not part of it to ash.

    Trace the gold sun about the whitened sky
    Without evasion by a single metaphor.
    Look at it in its essential barrenness
    And say this, this is the centre that I seek.
    Fix it in an eternal foliage

    And fill the foliage with arrested peace,
    Joy of such permanence, right ignorance
    Of change still possible. Exile desire
    For what is not. This is the barrenness
    Of the fertile thing that can attain no more.
    — Wallace Stevens [1]

    Below the upper reaches of this creek canyon with an expanse of petroglyphs on its ledges and boulders the valley widens in an embracing V, sweeping out to the east and south.  In this sloping valley most of the old junipers clear cut not too long ago, then the land burned. The hard crinkled stumps bear blackened testimony to a particular kind of credence. This is Oregon. A state where thousands of acres of old growth Juniper trees have been clear-cut in recent years with the blessing and support of the federal and state governments. Credence shaping absence.

    The petroglyphs marked here appear to span activity which occurred at least sporadically over thousands of years. This speculation is based on styles, placement, and patina — and drawing from on-the-ground experience with hundreds of other sites.  A guess. Without solid dating, understanding the sequences of plants and animals -- the living communities the native americans may have encountered, participated with, and exploited remains uncertain.  We do know the Juniper tree is native to these lands and has adapted and shifted its own way of being and becoming, its locales, elevations, and densities as climate changed. And will continue to do so.

    [1]  Poem II of Credences of Summer, a series in the collection Transport to Summer (1947)

  • ALL WATCHED OVER

    When I see — and hear — transmission towers looming over petroglyphs I think of this poem. The suspended humming wires — the “programming harmony.” I think of vision and absence. Passage and pulsating power; the racing, erasing current called time.

    All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace
    — Richard Brautigan

    I like to think (and
    the sooner the better!)
    of a cybernetic meadow
    where mammals and computers
    live together in mutually
    programming harmony
    like pure water
    touching clear sky.

    I like to think
    (right now, please!)
    of a cybernetic forest
    filled with pines and electronics
    where deer stroll peacefully
    past computers
    as if they were flowers
    with spinning blossoms.

    I like to think
    (it has to be!)
    of a cybernetic ecology
    where we are free of our labors
    and joined back to nature,
    returned to our mammal
    brothers and sisters,
    and all watched over
    by machines of loving grace.
      
    LINK to album:  Petroglyphs Watched Over

    Richard Brautigan’s 1967 prescient poem spins precisely along the accelerating curves of our self-identified twenty-first century trajectory.  A dream of loving grace while here, now, we humans glut and gloat our Earth home.  Wrapped with the poem’s unresolvable tensions, we can be terribly thankful we can fall toward metaphor.  Because if a cybernetic ecology is indeed our conjured and powered reality — now, what?

    A note.  Poet Richard Brautigan graduated from Eugene High School in 1953 in Eugene, Oregon.  The school building long gone, the one-square-block is now occupied by the “church” New Hope: “We believe that every person, Christian and non-Christian alike, is valuable to God and to His Kingdom.”  As I walk by, I do wonder if “valuable” includes grace?  —Douglas Beauchamp

  • The Rock Art of Tate Modern

    25th of July 2019.  The hottest day ever in Britain … considering the “vibrant matter” of Joseph Beuys’s artwork residing in a cooled, high-white room in the Tate Modern in London.  

    The 21 crystallized basalt pillars quarried near Kassel Germany in the 1980s, are connected with the 7000 blasted, selected, and hauled to the Kassel’s Friedrichsplatz in front of the Museum Fridericianum.  Spawned from that expansive and ongoing 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks) project, the Tate’s very materialized and very conceptualized artwork, The End of the Twentieth Century, was purchased by the Tate in 1991.  It is one of three separate but related installations preserved intact and carefully curated in European museums. (Another: Pinakothek in Munich, which also today marked its hottest day in history.)

    The week prior to arriving in London in May this year, and by good fortune, I walked among the Ballymeanoch standing stones in Kilmartin Glen in Western Scotland  The coned circles carved into the boulders by Beuys echoed in my mind’s eye the cups and concentric circles on some of ancient stones placed upright 4000 years ago in the verdant valley.  Through the Tate Modern gallery wondering wanderers drift by the Beuys stones with a glance of uncertain awe. Modern travelers gaze in similar fashion at the Kilmartin monuments.  Stones, gaze, wonder.

    John Berger believed, “In matters of seeing, Joseph Beuys was the great prophet of the second half of our century.”   Prophet is a powerful word.  Perhaps a good word to hold in mind when looking with placed stones while wondering about the human endeavor.  Stones, heat, art.

    Photos Douglas Beauchamp May 2019

  • Petroglyph Dreaming

    If an object reflects or transmits electromagnetic waves with a length of 0.4 millimicrons from the light shining on it, we say that it is blue; if it transmits waves with a length of 0.7 millimicrons, we describe the object as being red. The perception of color is a purely psychic and subjective event taking place in the inner space of an individual.
    — Albert Hofmann, in Insight, Outlook p7. (1986, trans. 1989)

    We came upon the metaphor, that resonant conduit our paths will never forget and whose waters have left their mark in our writing, perhaps comparable to the red mark that revealed the chosen to the Angel or the blue mark on houses condemned by Rosas' police, promising perdition. We came upon the metaphor, the invocation by which we disordered the rigid universe.  
    — Jorge Luis Borges, from After Images (1924) in Selected Non-Fictions, edited by Eliot Weinberger (1999)

    It is no secret that the usefulness of a term like "nature" dissolves in the confrontation between its ideological uses (divisions between the natural and the unnatural) and the distinct possibility that everything that happens is, in fact, natural. Is it natural to make art, or to do politics, or to decimate other life forms?
    — Christopher P. Heuer and Rebecca Zorach, Introduction, xv In Ecologies Agents Terrains (2018)

    There might be, too, a change immenser than
    A poet's metaphors in which being would

    Come true, a point in the fire of music where
    Dazzle yields to a clarity and we observe,

    And observing is completing and we are content,
    In a world that shrinks to an immediate whole,

    That we do not need to understand, complete
    Without secret arrangements of it in the mind.
    — Wallace Stevens, excerpt from Description Without Place in Transport to Summer (1947)

    Petroglyph Dreaming becoming integral to the life of the stone, the air, the light and water.  The dreamings are about the observer, the participant, as senses open to place, matter, and the spiral of time.

  • Solstice / AXIS

    If the axis has been well and truly laid down in the quartet it should be possible to radiate in any direction without losing the strictness and congruity of the continuum.  
    — Lawrence Durrell, in Author’s Note to Clea (1960), the fourth volume of The Alexandria Quartet.

    I often visit the Poltalloch carvings. But these days, I try to look at them in a new way, which may also be the rediscovery of a very old way. This rediscovery is the notion of ‘cultural landscape', related to the wider notion of 'Total Ecology'. It involves abandoning the anthropocentric perspective of the modern West, and returning to the vision of human beings who understood themselves and their imagination as components of the natural world.
    … The context is not just the sheet of rock, but the landscape itself. … The fact that these places often had 'a long view' may be important. These were people who had a sense of themselves within a landscape, neither as owners nor as distant specks traversing a hostile space but as partners in this cosmos spread out around them.
    — Neal Ascherson, Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland (2002), excerpt pp 217-219.

    What happens to us
    Is irrelevant to the world’s geology
    But what happens to the world’s geology
    Is not irrelevant to us.
    We must reconcile ourselves to the stones,
    Not the stones to us.
    — Hugh MacDiarmid, from On a Raised Beach (1938), a poem from his years on the Shetland island of Whalsay

    As we humans drift further into climatic upheavals and waves of extinctions in the coming decades, the thousands of rock art images marked over tens of thousands of years may act as lodestars, axes, quiet reminders of spiritual endeavor. And yearnings. This in the spirit of clarity of what we are about, partaking of this gift, our sojourn called life.

    Album: Cup-and-Ring: Solstice/AXIS, Kilmartin, mid-Argyll, western Scotland. May 2019.

  • Landscope: Kilmartin, Scotland / Northern Great Basin Oregon/Nevada

    What but indirection / will get to the end of the sphere?
    - William Carlos Williams, Paterson V (1958)

    Landscope inquires of landscape: how do we see the actual?  Through glimpses in the fleeting present.  Actual becomes the imagined.  No vanishing point perspectives, simply elusive multiplicities; still points in the turning world. Juxtaposing geofact, biofact, artifact, in a semi-factual, quasi-actual, visual accounting of land and land-usings.
    To view the three collections:
    Landscope: Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland UK  May 2019  
    Landscope Chewaucan, Lake County, Oregon USA  June 2019
    Landscope Washoe Nevada & Lake Oregon USA  Late June2019

    ... Or read on and click links below.

    Differences abundant between western Scotland and eastern Oregon.  Yet similarities strike me with a waking. Both marked deeply during the last ice age. In Oregon late Pleistocene lakes expanded and deepened among basin and range escarpments incising wave-cut terraces visible today.  In Argyll glacial ice carved and shaped lochs and striated sheeted bedrock.  Both places know ancient sequences of human migration, seasonal rounds, occupation, dislocation. Marked by stones, stones marked, placed and displaced signaling habitation, questing, burial. Animated landscapes.

    Today, the continual welling and folding of wilding lands layers with the presence of us humans, our residings, rough extractions, nurturing endeavors. Stuff and upheaval. Death and desire. I do not find contradiction. I lean into being there, quite willingly, to listen, learn, be surprised.  And make curious pictures as response, investigation, lingering revelation. There is a beyond I recognize: resilient millennia, tensive present, future spiral — all implied, surging, subsiding with the shifting patterns revealed within each particular occasion.

    KILMARTIN / BALLYGOWAN
    CHEWAUCAN / BASALT RIM

  • Cup-and-Ring Castleton

    Walking through the Castleton landscape.   Castleton, a farming area in Stirling County, Scotland, is three miles south the River Forth and equidistant from Glasgow and Edinburgh.  The cup-and-ring rock art on several bold outcrops is likely 4000-5000 years old. The carvings I found, worn yet very visible, occur on smooth exposed stone gently sloping to the north, while the numerous naturally-eroded, intertwining channels and grooves of the high vertical outcrop flow south. Water — as energy, as flow — and a long view to the south — strike me as fundamental to intent and meaning.  Yet how this sense may be melded with belief about place and change is a mystery.

    Two rock art places: Castleton Stirling
    A surprise reward of this day —  stone remnants of the early-15th-century Bruce's Castle.



  • Emanation

    Two carved images directly connect with natural orifices in the stone surface.  As a flowing it appears.  Emanation comes to mind.  Orifice as origin, or perhaps aperture leading inward, an infusion. What the carvings mean or indicate is unknown.  We may speculate: a movement of spirit-power in some way.  Perhaps the carvings were made in gratitude, in hope.  Perhaps representing an experience or a desire through which the act itself releases energy.
    The first image (top), from well-known Chalfant In Mono County, California, is carved into Bishop tuff - Chalfant, an eastern cliff edge of the Volcanic Tablelands.  The second image (above), from a basalt rim in central Lake County, Oregon.  Both overlooking close-by water flows.  Both with clear mountain-ridge views and toward the rising sun.
    These images seem to emerge from unconscious patterns, archetypal forms, which as they are formed by the carver vary as influenced by culture and landscape.

    On form, Henri Focillon writes, “Although [form] is our most strict definition of space, it also suggests to us the existence of other forms. It prolongs and diffuses itself throughout our dreams and fancies: We regard it, as it were, as a kind of fissure through which crowds of images aspiring to birth may be introduced into some indefinite realm.” (from The Life of Forms in Art, 1934)

  • Tufa Petroglyphs Boulder

    This tufa boulder formed under the waters of a southeast bay of pluvial Lake Lahontan in northwest Nevada.  These deeply carved petroglyphs are undated; the land now desert. This boulder’s location is proximate to the justly famous oldest dated petroglyphs in North America, also carved on tufa. The dated petroglyphs look to the east over Winnemucca Lake located east of Pyramid Lake - both remnant lakes of pluvial Lake Lahontan. The Winnemucca petroglyphs were determined by Larry Benson and associates in 2013 to date to at least 10,500 years ago and perhaps even as far back as 14,800 years ago.


    Tufas, like mineral flowers, emerge, protrude, and fragment as the lake recedes.  Bud, blossom, seed, suspended high and dry.  Tufas congeal in crenate patterns, constellated, crystallized, caverned, calcified froth. The petroglyphs on this boulder appear as emblems of desire, as invocations, perhaps entreating sexual fecundity, necessary replenishment. In these landscapes as marvelous, saturated dream-space, I am reminded of Max Ernst’s frottages and paintings.  
    Tufa Petroglyphs
    Above: Tufa Petroglyph Boulder;  Below: Max Ernst, The Gray Forest 1927

  • Gravity and the mystery of water

    Rock art abides in the landscapes of the desert west.  Quiet tension between stone and the ephemeral of endurance. It’s gravity, volcanics, the mystery of water. The exposure of stone. The human markings reflect the fluid past, the bone dry seasons, spirits of place. Aspiration, nurturance.

    Four images below from the Volcanic Tablelands, Inyo/Mono Counties, CA, March 2019. Included in Landscopes II - an album of a March 2019 Equinox road trip in western Nevada and eastern California

  • Lone-Lizard sees Ancient-History

    “Lane County has an abundance of prehistoric artifacts. This example of pictographs have defied the elements for centuries.  Writings can be see along Highway 395 near Lake Abert.  County contains almost a fourth of the state’s Indian writings.”  
    — Caption of a featured photograph of a petroglyph boulder in the Sunday Oregonian, 1959 [1]

    “Indian Pictographs in Lake County. Such Indian picture writings are usually not very old, because the desert wind and sand tend to obliterate them in about two hundred years as a rule.”  
    — Caption of a photograph of a petroglyph boulder published as the full-page frontispiece of The Oregon Desert, 1964 [2]  (Adapted image above)

    “The boulder was blasted by a maintenance crew about 1967, and the fragments graded into the ditch on the west side of the highway.”
    - Noted by Malcolm and Louise Loring from a 1967 visit, 1982 [3]

    The same petroglyph boulder is imaged and imagined in all three. The Oregonian and Oregon Desert photographs are almost identical.

    Lone-Lizard sees it coming: Ancient-History in not ancient. Lone-Lizard sees it going: Ancient-History is not history as a rule.  Ancient-History sees Lone-Lizard is not a lizard in dreamtime highway fragments.  [4]

    Above, an adapted image of Lorings's line drawing of the boulder’s face prior to 1967. They noted: "On one large lizard petroglyph the rock surface in the body was polished and painted with red pigment." 

    NOTES
    [1] "Pictographs, Petroglyphs Premium Lake County Attractions,” Sunday Oregonian, August 23, 1959, by Paul Laartz, The highlight of this feature story was a photograph of the boulder with petroglyphs on the southeast shore of Lake Abert. The story was part of series in partnership with the Oregon State Motor Assn to promote  tourism during Oregon’s centennial year.  
    Eerily, the 1959 article also includes another photograph captioned: “Lakeview, well known as a center of lumbering, cattle raising, has recently added this uranium reduction mill to its list of contributors to a thriving Lake County economy.”  The Lakeview Uranium Mill operated 1958-1961.  A 2017 fact sheet “provides information about the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978. Title I processing site and disposal site near Lakeview, Oregon. This site is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management.”   https://www.lm.doe.gov/Lakeview/Disposal/Sites.aspx

    [2] The Oregon Desert, 1964, by E R Jackman and Reub A. Long, Caxton Press (Idaho).  Chapter 11, titled  “Indians in the Desert,” offers folksy observation, opinion and hearsay, vague (mis)information, and condescending pronouncements typical of late 19th- and early 20th-century attitudes. This enduringly popular volume has been continuously in-print since 1964; distributed by University of Nebraska Press. The full-page frontispiece photograph is the petroglyph boulder destroyed in 1967.

    [3] Malcolm and Louise Loring in 1967 visited the Lake Abert shore location of petroglyph boulder highlighted in the two photographs. In the description for  Site 140 the Lorings reference the 1959 Oregonian story.  Loring, J. Malcolm, and Louise Loring. Pictographs & Petroglyphs of the Oregon Country, Parts I & II. 1996. This one-volume corrected edition of the original 1982 two-volume publication is available online.

    [4] Dreamtime Highway is not a completely original phrase. I've admired Dreamtime Superhighway (2008), a superb book by Jo McDonald about the rock art of New South Wales, Australia, which "proposes that the rock art in the Sydney region functioned as a prehistoric information superhighway.” Something to ponder as we look to see.

    Lake Abert Southeast shore. (Photo Douglas Beauchamp, 2016)

  • Lone-Lizard sees Natural-History

    Lone-Lizard sees two iron troughs placed end-to-end tolerate a fence straddling and separating the two.The troughs are aircraft engine shipping containers manufactured on contract for the US Navy and US Air Force and surplussed from the 1950s-1960s. A metal plaque identifies one half-ton container as designed for J57 turboprop, an innovative 5000-pound Pratt & Whitney engine which the military turned to for its war planes in the early 1950s.

    Lone-Lizard sees California bighorn sheep reintroduced to Oregon from British Columbia in the early 1950s after eradication by the early 20th century of the native herds in Oregon - some few dozen bighorns live on rims and slopes rising to the east.

    Lone-Lizard sees beef cattle, a subspecies of cattle introduced from Europe, appearing seasonally in this BLM grazing allotment on public lands in the southern Warner Valley.

    Lone-Lizard sees the grazed seeding of Crested Wheatgrass, a livestock forage introduced from Russia and Siberia. Nearby, a fenced long-term-trend photo plot seeded in the early 1960s in the grazing allotment.
    Satellite photo below courtesy Google Earth; troughs on right.

    Lone-Lizard sees Natural-History is not natural; is not history.  Natural-History sees Lone-Lizard is not a lizard.

  • TEN 2018 Oregon

    Who’s counting?  Some count elements, some dots, perhaps tallies or shadows at Solstice. I count moments. Rock surface as membrane, as interface, a template of pattern intersecting wavering time and translucent space. Offering gratitude to the anonymous artists passing through these times immemorial.

    As a joyful year-end remembrance, I’ve selected ten images from this year’s explorations in Oregon. A gesture toward opening, toward focus. The way I see; perhaps as they see me seeing - interface?  Now, onward into the turning of the season —

    Album: TEN 2018 Oregon

  • This tilting planet

    Solstice arrives as reminder: Listen to the dark, mention the inner stone.  Petroglyphs not other than Earth.  Not other than Carver.  Never other than living time crusting densities.  Petroglyphs appear in the fleeting present, matter inhering images.  Sunlight, moonlight, flickering starlight: flashing shadows across and beyond this tilting planet. 
    Petroglyphs: Lassen County, California.  Photos Douglas Beauchamp 2018

  • Every wolf a deer

    No wolf howls alone in the wilderness. Every being is a biome. Just so, every predator is its prey, every enemy its own enemy. This is the lesson of ecology. Every wolf is a deer, every deer is a deer tick, every deer tick is a human, every human is a blade of grass. Every American is a radical Islamic mujahid. Every human is carbon, oxygen, electricity, and hydrogen. Every rock is paper.  Roy Scranton [1]

    [1] Roy Scranton, from “Rock Scissors Paper” in We're Doomed. Now What?: Essays on War and Climate Change (2018); Rock Scissors Paper presented as talk at Los Angeles County Museum 2016.

    Two images: A petroglyph boulder and a detail, Lake County, October 2018
    Noting two symetrically designed bear?paw? images and figure seeming to approach? natural cleft in the rock.

  • ChronoZoning Lake Abert

    Time collapses. This basalt is different. Harder. Darkly brown. Rounded water-smoothed boulders thick with feldspar crystals sparkling in the desert air.  Petroglyphs emerge ghost-like, yearning, dissolve as the light shifts, from 3000 YBP (+/- 2500 years).  Along the eastern shore of Lake Abert.  Along US Highway 395 north to Canada south to California 19th century geographic imaginings. Margins alive. Lichen cattle shrimp avocets bighorn. Saltcrusts fences bones placed stones. Wave cut road cut clay bed tar bed.

    Here the southwest edge the multi-layered Columbia River Flood Basalt Province. Color-coded on puzzled maps. 17-15 millions years Before Present.  Suddenly 8 million years ago the earth stretching west the block fault scarp breaks up as the valley sinks. After the last glacial the basin lake shrinks to a thin shimmer of a ghost of a brimming Pleistocene past.

    Other petroglyphs along Lake Abert carved on sheer-faced boulders cracked tumbled from the upward rims. A finer lighter basalt. Soft gray, dark gray, stony gray.  Petroglyphs recalling the Holocene seasons cycling with life. Peooles on and through this land for 14,000 years.Of and in this earth. Now named for absent Westerners. Deitz. Paisley. Warner. Abert too a ghostly misnomer from Fremont’s 1840s hauntings.

    A very near blurred future-time collides toward this place. Too soon geo-logically: a stark dry slope a dusty valley. Asphalt road bed black cracking tilting sliding into white salt. Trace chemicals congeal to bind the changing times. Patina darkens petroglyphs rock circles stacked walls. Wind carries the sparklings of the longing crystals on through the curve of time.

    More Abert images on Google+



  • FAKE, Fact, Fancy

    FAKE. How does this marking-on-stone shape this place? Certainly it is a real petroglyph. Or, fake-rock? A half-life sign? As a logical paradox - what is fake, what is real, what is fact - it creates what I will call a meta-paradox. Because in the open desert, embedded in a dry stream, this two-part marking - figure and word - denotes an unbridgeable gulf. Hence, this “meta-glyph” appears both true and false - a dialetheic - oscillating as a true contradiction, unprovable as either or.

    Why think with this?  First, fake-rock is a significant distance from any other petroglyphs, real or otherwise, so it does not adhere as vandalism of a specific site.  Second, whoever produced this had some acquaintance with traditional indigenous imagery - it is not typical graffiti; why he/she made this remains elusive, a trickster? Third, it brings forth concerns about respect.

    This thinking with sharpens recognition that the perceiving, framing, or picturing of any petroglyph always introduces fancies about what is true, real, authentic.

    Below, four petroglyph images (October 2018) from a quiet canyon within a mile of fake-rock.  This place nestles in a sweeping basin-and-range landscape between Abert Rim -  the longest exposed fault scarp in North America, and one of the highest fault scarps in the US - and Warner Valley with its puzzle-expanse of north-south lakes.