BLOG: To Become Visible

Animal Image
  • 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.

  • Animal Image, Animal Eye

    Images are bodies.  Animal images in art, religion, and dreams are not merely depictions of animals.  Animal images are also showing us images as animals. … If the world presents itself in expressive shapes like animals, then there must be an eye that can see shapes, as animals. To read lines on the face of the world we need animal eye. This eye not only sees man as animal but by means of the animal, seeing each other with an animal eye.  To this eye, image and type appear together. … The animal eye perceives and reacts to the animal image in the other.  James Hillman [1]

    What is this talisman of color, this singular virtue of the visible that makes it, held at the end of the gaze, nonetheless much more than a correlative of my vision, such that it imposes my vision upon me as a continuation of its own sovereign existence? How does it happen that my look, enveloping them, does not hide them, and, finally, that, veiling them, it unveils them? Maurice Merleau-Ponty [2]

    In this darkling season: Animal Images:  Petroglyphs from places in the Pahranagat region of southeast Nevada

    [1] James Hillman. 1986.  Egalitarian Typologies versus the Perception of the Unique, 55-56. 1986.   (above from an extended in excerpt in Blue Fire 68-69.
    [2] Maurice Merleau-Ponty. 1961 (trans 1968).  The Visible and the Invisible: The Intertwining—The Chiasm, 30-55. 
    Hillman’s sentence: “Animal images are also showing us images as animals” may be considered a chiasmus, a cross-over, a mirroring intertwining.