In my personal life, I have many things to be deeply thankful for. My blogging fell off these holidays due to enjoying time with family new and old, and I sometimes even went so far as to talk with friends on the phone. I'm still at the digestion phase of moving out of 2006.
What a year. Rather than enumerate the pluses and minuses of it or to road-map the challenges and opportunities of this next, I'd rather reach far, far back into time and draw on the strength of our ancestors, to reinforce myself with their joyful talismans, and to share them. I find them truly remarkable, and the exhibits above are the oldest works of art in the world.
We are a race which cannot resist decoration and expression, and although my talents don't flow so much in those directions, I admire the graces of those who are more blessed. We may still be animals, but the art we make lifts us up for moments into a higher status, one of meta-animal, and capturing the essence of another being and breathing life into color and clay is indeed a form of mastery. In such strivings I see the stirrings of attentive, loving stewarship which leans towards godliness, and they can stand as a bulwark, saying, no, surely we will not let our greed destroy all the beauty and good in this world, which the gods who came before so generously gave. Surely we can adapt as a race and mature as we must--not merely in the further mastery of dimensions, but also in the core of our most human selves.
These pieces were found in and near a cave in the Black Forest called Hohle Fels, which hunters used for shelter in the Ice Age. More than 32,000 years ago. 32,000 years...the Neanderthals still walked in Europe. But doesn't it feel like you could sit down with the creators and share a laugh over dinner? My two-year old's attempts at drawing birds reminded me of these cave people, and sent me searching for them again. The two line drawings followed earlier, messier attempts to his draw his beloved pizzas and trees, and they look to me to closely resemble the heads of a puffin and a duck. They may be just coincidental, but I thought them startlingly successful and worth preserving: and maybe there are iconic forms passed down to us by means we don't understand. At any rate, they reminded me of the tiny water fowl carved from ivory so long ago in Holhe Fels, the one I eulogized in a post a few months back, and of the great capacities we still have in us. They give me hope.