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Currently showing posts tagged Surprise Valley

  • 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.

  • Places Of The Actual

    Rock art photos, mine included, tend to frame a timeless presence.  Sure, most petroglyphs have been in place for centuries, many for millennia.  The stone itself has changed in ways simultaneously revealing and obscuring a subtle sense of time, altering the sense of the original markings and layerings. A latent beauty. Yet the surround - lands and waters, plants and animals - are often heavily disrupted, most profoundly in the recent 150 years.  A blip, rapidly in flux. Profound change impinged, more forthcoming. 

    These cultural and aspirational changes foster a measure of economic success – logging, damming, grazing, draining, channeling, pumping, piping, powering.   Most anyone who's lived in or traveled through this country can see and knows the score.  Most profound to me is the killings, direct or indirect. For example, native mammals fearfully classed as Predators or Competitors – coyote, cougar, bear, rabbit, prairie dog, for example, are trapped, shot, poisoned with relentless abandon. Plants too are attacked. Most visible these days in the arid west are the acres upon acres of clear-cut Western Juniper, including many mature trees in place before arrival of the Euroamerican culture in the 1800s. Sometimes the logic of cut lands demands a burning, seared to the ground.  Rock art as witness. 

    This collection of 24 photos from a trip this month in Three Corners – the border intersection of Oregon-California-Nevada - navigates places of the actual as a way of looking, of being present in old time and new.