Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cave Paintings

Between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago people painted animals and depictions of hunting expeditions on cave walls and ceilings using charcoal. Picasso said of the Altamira cave paintings, "After Altamira, all is decadence."
The wonderment people have when they look at these simple pictures of animals transcends the art and I've recently pondered why that is. What draws us to these striking images and what inspires us about them?

I think they represent an essential humanity that has inadvertently been written as history because it no longer exists. These images were records, tributes to a way of life that was meaningful and I want to point out that 25,000 years ago these might be the only pieces of visual art that were being produced. It wasn't commercial and it wasn't for sale and these details add to our present day observations. No popes were involved; No pop culture; Hollywood was a sheet of ice. We see these images as modern day capitalists and they don't fit our concept of art anymore...and they don't fit our concept of survival. Seeing the cave painting is like hearing what a blind person hears.

I could elaborate on my comparison but I think you could fill in the blanks.
Oggy thinks modern day culture is______.
Modern Art is _______.
Humanity is _______.

Blah blah. But I had an epiphany that prevents me from filling in those blanks for Google's robotic crawlers who lick their anodized lips with every word I type. No, I'll tell you what those cave paintings mean to Picasso and me. They mean that unless I have something to contribute that's worthy of the artists who painted the walls of caves then why bother with it? "After Altamira, all is decadence." We cling to the wrappers of gross tacos, we sell out, we crawl, we suck cock, we compromise and at the end of the day we die anyway. Maybe we refine metals or pile stones and these await the orders for destruction like a Vegas resort that has dry rot. They are meaningless decadence on the underside of a bottle cap. The news has become a consumable product packages for daily brains hungry for antagonistic drivel. Art is not only decadent wastes of money but are basically distractions, vain attempts to recapture essential humanity but are really a corporate product placement tool. Movies? These are now jokes to me...obviously over produced vehicles for the egos of writers and actors...thrown through so many focus groups shredders that all originality and purity is coated with spicy Doritos chip dust and triple wrapped by gay comics who get paid by the snarky one-liner. They have become whatever the opposite of authentic is.

 So, it is no wonder that we look at a coal drawing of an Ox with reverence. It's a trace of something we've been fooled into selling off for lower priced air fresheners and corporate logos. That's the bad news. The good news is that we're all still capable of this essential and common beauty. It's buried inside our brains where we hid it as children afflicted by art substitutes. We were trained to hold Ronald's gloved hand and ride into the sunset on Geoffrey the giraffe. I'm pretty sure that a life lived on processed food and focus group art is not a life lived. It's like we've become the Ibex being herded before the arrows. But there is no one left to recognize the human condition.
When anyone prods a bit deeper into my goals I usually tell them this story:
"In northern Canada there were a group of Eskimos who ate deer. They awaited the deer and hunted them. All their resources were derived from the deer. Their vocabulary was based on the deer. Their way of life was synonymous with the deer. If you asked them what their people did to survive, they could tell you, they hunt the deer. My goal is to explain my own people's Way as succinctly. I want to say, "This is the way of my people..."
Right now, I can not do that. I do not know what my people do. I've been to every state and every province in North America and I can't describe how my people live. I look for work and see ads, "Fat Women Wanted For Fetish Pics." or "Make Money Designing My Facebook Page" or "Penny Stocks are next Goldmine" How about this one: "Our company develops, manufactures, and sells wire-free environmental and power monitoring and real-time IT asset tracking solutions that reduce the time and cost of tracking and monitoring IT assets and the environments in which they're located." If it looks like shit and smells like shit then... it's a Fortune 100 company. 300-400 million people somehow surviving on processed goat lips and pink slime with doses of Pig tail that was fed a liquid diet in a huge metal cavern. We watch idiots ape like deranged monkeys in makeup and goof around on the screen, slipping on bananas. I spent a night recently outside of a meth dealer's house overrun with broken baby strollers and rusting barbeques. I savagely played bongos while they gave each other tattoos and talked about panning for gold. And the reason I slept there was because the police ran me off the road and the meth dealer took pity on me and my blue Mohawk passenger. Ace kept saying, "I'll give you the shirt off my back if you respect me." and he literally forgot his tattered blue Hawaiian shirt in my van when he left in a rage to chase his twig thin girlfriend down the dog-barking Oklahoma street, which meant I had to drive around looking for him to give him his shirt back. So, forgive me if I'm no closer to learning the meaning of life. If I described that scenario to an Eskimo like, "We survive by hustling illicit prescription Xanax to feed the addictions of junk bond trading men who jerk off watching fat women tease themselves with vibrators on fetish Facebook accounts designed by teen programmers," they would think we were a hopelessly deranged people. Hell, YOU probably think that's hopelessly deranged and you're a defacto accomplice to the whole affair. Imagine what the Eskimo would think. So, how do my people live? What is Their Way? More and more it looks like we live as cattle herded from one distraction to another while we await our turn at the slaughter house. If we don't know what we do for survival then that means we're the buffalo being chased off a cliff.

All that matters is that if you aren't hunting and you have coal in your hand and blank cave ceiling to draw on then you draw what matters to you. It's basic. No more sales advice like a lip-synced talent agent. I've seen what masquerades as art and it's decadent garbage. I don't want to be a part of that. It's not an issue of pride; it's merely a matter of self respect. The question I want to ask myself is if what I'm writing is like a cave painting.
We don't revere cave paintings because the art itself is phenomenal. We see human nature stripped bare of the modern rouge and acne cream that pharm-coms pour into our brains. Modernists derisively call it primitive, but I call it human. Anything else is manufacturing. I suspect that the people who drew those pictures 20,000 years ago were more evolved than us, but now we've got a better dental plan.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.