28 March 2011

Forgotten Dreams

In Cave of Forgotten Dreams Werner Herzog:
presents beautiful and amazing 3 D footage of the Chauvet cave; 'everybody' should see this
encourages the mind to wonder and wander
Responses on the second aspect will vary according to taste. My initial ones include:
Well done to the French Ministry of Culture for opening the cave to an untamed mind. They could so easily have opted for a predictable corporate-style documentation of 'facts', or what Herzog calls the accountant's truth

So much remains mysterious. Why for example are humans so rarely represented in paleolithic cave painting while sculpted human figures, notably 'Venus' figurines, appear to have been fairly common at about the same time?

It is virtually impossible not to project shadows of one's own dreams onto 'forgotten' ones. The minotaur, for example...

Many will consider it tendentious, but I like the inclusion at the very end of the film of albino, almost humanoid crocodiles floating and twitching in water tanks in a giant greenhouse heated by a nearby nuclear power plant. This is one of several points where I think Herzog accesses the subconscious mind in a remarkable and strange way. [1]  The whiteness of the reptilian...

See also:
Bestiary of 25,000 years

Bells in Winter
Note [1] (added 5 May) Julian Bell asks:
Or is it that we understand nothing? A majestically bizarre coda, switching from that subterranean bestiary to a pair of albino crocodiles currently swimming the waters near an adjacent nuclear plant, lets go of the whole tension between Palaeolithic handiwork and twenty-first-century guesswork, poetically proposing that like the twinned freak reptiles, ancient and modern mirror one another, each a form of unreality.

21 March 2011

'A totally new branch of the tree of life'?

A fourth domain...or even a fifth?
--The paper,  A news report

'Just this'

When I think of the patience I have had
back in the dark before I remember
or knew it was night until the light came
all at once at the speed it was born to
with all the time in the world to fly through
not concerned about ever arriving
and then the gathering of the first stars
unhurried in their flowering spaces
and far into the story of the planets
cooling slowly and the ages of rain
then the seas starting to bear memory
the gaze of the first cell at its waking
how did this little haste begin this little time
at any time this reading by lightning
scarcely a word this nothing this heaven

-- W.S. Merwin