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WIND
  • Outtake/Intake: Owens River Valley

    I recommend the book Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. [1]

    Appreciation of rock art cannot be exempt from an awareness of land use, water use, and the related displacements of indigenous peoples by Euro-Americans beginning in the mid-19th century.  That is to say - Claiming and Naming.  

    Karen Piper’s book looks critically and historically at the Owens River Valley, the traditional territories of the Paiute and Shoshone east of the Sierras from north and west of Bishop to Ridgecrest, California.  The book is an indictment of the political economy and environmental devastations wrought by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power beginning in the early-20th century.  (If you’ve seen Chinatown please don’t assume you got the story — read the book.)

    There are dozens of rock art locales in the greater Owens River Valley. The desiccating, dusty impact of the taking of the river for LA via an aqueduct is readily apparent. (I encounter dissonance when the primary flow from the river to the aqueduct is called the “Intake” — it is clearly an Outtake!) This is certainly a hugely complex issue, not only in the first several decades of the “Outtaking,” but how it continues to stimulate conflict and unresolved challenges. In this sense the book, researched for years and published in 2006, was an urgent signal and hopefully acts as a catalyst for meaningful change. [2]

    Images Feb2018: Owens River Valley Petroglyphs

    [1]  Karen Piper, Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. (New York: Palgrave, 2006).  [2]  Dreams, Dust, and Birds: The Trashing of Owens Lake  (Karen Piper, Places, January 2011).   http://www.karenpiper.com/

  • Blowin’ in the Wind 2017

    I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
    Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
    Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
    Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
    … And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

    How many times must a man look up
    Before he can see the sky?
    Yes, ’n’ how many ears must one man have
    Before he can hear people cry?
    … The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.
    - Both excerpts from Bob Dylan songs, 1963.  https://bobdylan.com/songs/

    Does wind appear in rock art?  Does rain?  I don’t know. I do sense some petroglyphs as atmospheric.  Certainly changing weather, influencing rain and snow, yearning to start or stop the wind, figures in many stories and ethnographic reports in the West, indeed, in all times and cultures.  Cupule boulders are often viewed as related to wind and rain control. My testimony here with these four “abstract” images, below, is less reasonable.

    Rain - hard or soft - doesn’t fall; waters are pulled by lusty Earth. Gravity’s desire.  Wind - soft or hard - doesn’t blow; airs are twirled by the Sun. Solar whim.

    Archaic petroglyphs bear witness to wind and rain, to gravity and solar.  Deities of the Stone.  Forces natural and super.  Sensed here, now, soon to change, as the Weather.

    Below: Four photos from the High Lakes region of the northern Great Basin