Re: still here: caves
Marg, Hunting and the fight to survive the harsh climate surely nurtured co-operation and society. In the
book I 've quoted, Gregory Curtis shows how painting these images in the difficult conditions of the caves
required forethought, planning, many days work, provisions, the preparation of the materials: a
collaboration of several people, not just a solitary artist... just as they did for a Renaissance artist -
they weren't just grabbing the first things to hand and doodling in a spare moment. There are even repeated
motives, such as the wounded man, which recur through several caves and a long duration. I was wrong about
hunting magic - and way out of date! - and am open to any theory about why they created these realistic images
for over 20,000 years. No, it does not have to be religious but theories that connect the works with
religious motive make sense to me whereas any purely secular ones do not. I 'm more with Bill in thinking of
Perhaps a sense of wonder is inappropriate terminology, but they observed the animals with an acuteness
and intensity that would not have been necessary if the World did not loom large in their imaginations.
Otherwise they could just have painted blobs to represent the bison and mammoths. If one goes for a secular
explanation - that the artists were showing off their talents - this would still suggest a social
organisation to make this necessary... especially if life was such a grim struggle.
Martin rightly warned against over-romanticisation (though that's no reason why WE as artists shouldn't
be bowled over by this stuff) but we need to remember that the people were a success story in survival,
whereas the Neanderthals seem to have failed. I think it's probably undervaluing their achievement to
think they simply clung on to existence for all those tens of thousands of years. . Not a golden age but not
necessarily grim throughout. Does the Willendorf Venus represent an ideal of Plenty or the shape a woman
aimed for as the best defence against the winter?
Martin, I envy you having actually seen some of this art - my knowledge is entirely 2nd hand.