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Books
  • Not sure about the next hundred

    In her review of Jenny Offill’s new novel Weather, Christine Smallwood in comparing it to Offill's first book writes:  
    — We no longer feel confident that conscious creatures with opposable thumbs will be walking the earth in another thousand years. We’re not sure about the next hundred. [1]

    I excerpt this out of context, yet this thought resonates for me. I’ve just returned from Central Oregon.  I looked, wondered, at two paint-hands at nearby places along the (now-named) John Day River.

    Two Hands: dense gray, pale red. Hands marking, pausing, greeting, passing. Handprints appearing with indistinct thumbs. Perhaps lightly touched, perhaps faded, perhaps four fingers signaled a particular gesture. [2]

    How did the one who reached out to touch the stone sense time?  As seasons?  As yesterday, today, tomorrow? As Future and Past?  Was this Present simultaneous with what was then and will be?  

    Do I grasp “another thousand years?”  The next hundred?  No, not closely, surely. I do understand two other lines, also excerpted from Smallwood writing in the review:
    — No matter how the world ends, we will continue to be human beings until we are dead.
    — Whatever we do now—whatever we write, make, or build—has to mean something now, to the people who are here.

    [1] Meditations in an Emergency:  Jenny Offill’s novel of the barely bearable present. A review of Weather by Jenny Offill by Christine Smallwood in Bookforum Feb/Mar 2020.
    [2] Noting these two close-up photos (iPhone XR) of faded hand-print/rock paintings are color-enhanced (macOS Photos).

  • Early Rock Art of the American West

    Ekkehart Malotki has done it again, thankfully.  Early Rock Art of the American West: The Geometric Enigma will offer deep insight and inspiration to those who care and are curious about rock art in the lands of the West. To be released July 2018, it is richly illustrated with 200 images, 193 in color. 314 pages. University of Washington Press offers the paperback version at $34.95. 

    His 2007 volume The Rock Art of Arizona: Art for Life's Sake remains for me the single best conceptual and stylistic guide to the rock art of the Great Basin. I have found nothing comparable for Oregon, California or Nevada. I believe this new book will surpass that fine volume. About Ekkehart Malotiki