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  • Time and The Imagined at Carrizo Plain

    You have time. Meaning don't use it, but pass through time in patience, waiting for something to come. Prepare for its arrival. Don’t rush to meet it. Be a conduit. … I felt this to be true. Some people might consider that passivity but I did not. I considered it living. Rachel Kushner [1]

    It’s easier to imagine the end of the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. Michael Robbins [2]

    Camped during mild days in early February 2018 at Carrizo Plain National Monument in California’s southern San Joaquin Valley. It’s easy to follow Rachel Kushner’s advice. The starry sky clearer than clear.  The ground dry yet soft.  The silence swells.  I am a visitor and I feel it.  Though born in southern California and worked teen summers in Arvin near Bakersfield, I have that eyes-wide-open feeling.  I hike, marvel at the stone, the rock paintings, the birds, take pictures, meet a very few people at perfect moments.

    When I returned to Oregon, after luminous nights in the El Paso Mountains north of the Mojave and with a whipping dusty wind in the northern Owens Valley, I read-up on Carrizo Plain. Most urgently I saw described by Los Padres Forest Watch a federal report calls for review of the Carrizo Plain National Monument management plan. [3] 

    How to frame the unfolding context of spirit, place, politics and extraction? The stone erodes. The grass grows high or doesn’t. The wildflower seeds hold patient. The re-introduced pronghorn and elk roam free. Painted rocks fade and fragment, some cut by the various “modern” name-and-initial incisings seen at popular places. Mining, drilling, piping - the inscribed initials of our consumptive nature on this earth. How to imagine?

    Photos:  Carrizo Plain National Monument or https://photos.app.goo.gl/NBWBdLnRCeZu1cW32

    NOTES
    [1] Rachel Kushner, in The Flamethrowers: A novel. Scribner 2013
    [2] Michael Robbins in a Bookforum review (Feb-Mar 2018) of Andreas Malm’s book The Progress of this Storm: Nature and Society In A Warming World. Verso 2018
    https://www.versobooks.com/books/2575-the-progress-of-this-storm
    [3] Los Padres Forest Watch: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s late December release of the “Final Report Summarizing Findings of the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act.”  In addition to massive boundary reductions and opening some National Monuments to mining, drilling, logging, and industrial-scale commercial fishing, the report calls 27 national monument management plans to be reviewed.  The president’s proclamation and the Department of the Interior’s recommendations represent the largest elimination of protected federal lands and waters in U.S. history.”

  • Diagrams: Finding out in the Oregon desert

    Carl Jung relates the story, in a larger context concerning transformation, of an old man, reputed to be a sorcerer, who sought refuge in a cave, “seeking to know what it was that he did not know, but which, he felt certain, was always happening. After meditating for a very long time on that which is beyond meditation, he saw no other way of escape from his predicament than to take a piece of red chalk and draw all kinds of diagrams on the walls of his cave, in order to find out what that which he did not know might look like. After many attempts he hit on the circle. ‘That’s right,’ he felt, ‘and now for a quadrangle inside it!’ - which made it better still.” [1] 

    Is it fair to invoke Jung and Euro-tales when considering indigenous rock paintings, red ochre on black desert basalts in the Great Basin? It is a lingering question I will always consider. Yet Jung’s concept of the underlying structure of human consciousness – and the unconscious – offers for me one avenue to deeper understanding of predicament: to find out what that which he did not know might look like.

    To the degree the human mind is a part of a naturalistic, animated universe, the stone, the ochre, the image reveal presence immemorial through the mind and hand of the painter.

    [1] Selected from Concerning Rebirth (1950) in C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Bollingen, Princeton University Press, 1959.  p.129 para 233.

    Diagrams: Finding out in the Oregon desert