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Monuments
  • Open Range

    The two most common official road signs on the “lonely” highways of central and southeast Nevada:  Open Range and Low Flying Aircraft.  Distance, space, and time become relative.  Range, it strikes me, is the operative word of assumed possession in our West. As in Range Lands.  Riders on the Range.  Bombing Range.  A place to do as one will, or at least to test one’s will.  

    Among the tuff boulders and outcrops lies the Mount Irish Archaeological District, now part of the  Basin and Range National Monument.  The BLM of the Ely District how done a fine job of making public an expansive terrain with many remarkable petroglyphs.

    In late October during some soloing days I wandered and wondered among these softened boulders so different from the sharp basalts of Oregon’s northern Great Basin.  No one else in this country this season. The dawns crisp and golden, radiant.  Afternoons warm and disbursed, curving away.  Suddenly a shocking, booming explosion so near at hand to shake alarm. Then, silently, “low-flying,” two fighter jets in tight formation slicing through the air of the nearing valley - faster-than-the-speed-of-sound.  Soon the dull claim and roar of the engines followed yearning not to be abandoned.  Open Range.  

    My thoughts turned to Yemen, to Syria.  (Yes, here, in the quiet presence of the archaic "Pahranagat Man," stately observer she/he be.)  I can only slightly imagine the dread, the trauma, the deathliness of what it must be dwell, to feel the shattering, to perhaps die, with this constant jet sound multiplied, amplified.  Also, I thought:  gun control is not the issue.  Much deeper is the way we weapon our world.  Yes, We.  Yes, Weapon. Yes, Our World.  (Someday when sound is done and gone, in a foreseeable lonely world, when walls collapse quake they will in silent swoon.)

    Some Pahranagat figures in this country are associated with atlatls, the dart-thrower, which preceded the soon-to-be-fashionable bow-and-arrow.  Essential to both was the tip, the honed stone point, the piercer.  Sharply aimed, fast, and low-flying - if to be effective.   

    ALBUM:   Mount Irish Scapes and Images
    ...
    NOTES
    - BLM guide to Mount Irish Petroglyphs published in partnership with Nevada Rock Art Foundation.
    - Basin and Range National Monument Proclamation, July 2017, by President Obama. 
    - Nellis Air Force Base

  • Rock Art, Rugged Beauty, Targeting

    Bull’s-eye.  1. the circular spot, usually black or outlined in black, at the center of a target marked with concentric circles and used in target practice.  2. a shot that hits this. 3. the center or central area of a military target, as of a town or factory, in a bombing raid. www.dictionary.com (2017)

    Matter is an aggregate of “images.” And by image we mean a certain existence which is more than that which the idealist calls a representation, but less than that which the realist calls a thing, an existence placed half-way between the “thing” and the” representation.”  Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory (1911)

    We are meddlers born. Caitlin DeSilvey. Curated Decay (2017)

    “Rock Art and Rugged Beauty” reads the headline of the New York Times Travel Section, July 30, 2017.  Gold Butte, in Southeast Nevada, is one of three recently designated monuments explored by three writers is this feature.  Rock art  presented to an international audience as integral to the purpose of our public monuments. [1]

    One photo includes concentric circle petroglyphs, each with two circles. (Image below)  As labeled by the New York Times writer:  “bull’s-eye.”  A convenient Euro-American image of a target. As defined above “bull’s-eye” would literally indicate the center of the inner circle.  Where does meaning reside? [2] [3]

    Consider some of the sentences in the Gold Butte article:
    - “The bighorn is considered one of the greatest trophies among modern hunters.”
    - “The signs are peppered with bullet holes. This is a common affliction among signs in the Gold Butte area.”
    - “Gambel’s quail flushed off to my side. They are prized game birds among Western upland hunters.”
    - “I hiked around and found … water tanks, an old stovetop range, a collapsed corral, metal drums …  Most of these items had been used for target practice.”

    Targeting. In these times allusion to targets, hunting, and shooting may be sharply fitting.  On July 30, the day the Gold Butte article was published, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke spoke at a news conference near Gold Butte National Monument in Bunkerville, Nevada.  Zinke was finishing a review swing through Western states and as per an executive order must have recommendations for 27 recent U.S. monuments by August 24. [4]

    NOTES
    [1] In Gold Butte in Nevada, Ancient Rock Art and Rugged Beauty: The national monument, which the Trump administration is reassessing, is full of life — Joshua trees, prairie falcons — and stunning petroglyphs. (online version) by James Card, July 25, 2017. (IMAGE BELOW)
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/travel/gold-butte-nevada-antiquities-act-national-monument.html

    [2]  “Bull’s eye” occasionally appears in rock art studies.  For example, Loendorf and Loendorf describe petroglyphs with a central dot and one or more concentric circles as bull’s eye. They expand: “Among the world's cultures, concentric circles and bull's eyes are generally associated with the sun, water, whirlpools, and earth centers.  The association of the motifs with two apparent opposites like sun and water is somewhat hard to understand, but sun and water are frequently juxtaposed.”  Larry Loendorf and Chris Loendorf . 1995. With Zig-Zag Lines I’m Painted: Hohokam petroglyphs on Tempe Butte, Arizona. 130-131

    [3]. The NYT writer labels another figure: tortoise.  An image of a quadruped perhaps touching or perhaps touched by an arching double half-circle.  What is claimed by “tortoise?”  Whether this was intended by the original carver as “tortoise,” “rainbow, “coyote,” the question ever emerges: with what cultural meaning?  Say it is a tortoise. Is this meant as representation?  Does a tortoise imply a sacred presence? Food? Tenacity? A clan? If an image of a rainbow, a prayer for rain, gratitude for rain? for sun and rain? For patience! A chain of speculation.  I suggest:  simply look.  If a tortoise, she/he will speak.

    [4]  Amid monument review, a pro-energy Interior emerges: Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke is filling his office with extractive industry insiders. Tay Wiles, Aug. 1, 2017, High Country News
    http://www.hcn.org/articles/interiors-energy-priorities-undergird-sweeping-monuments-review