The serendipity of it all… how I came to be ‘in touch’, to find myself in an excremental entanglement with that flying observer. A Rabelaisian narrator would be of the essence and could only begin to do justice to that first encounter, to ‘flesh it out’ appropriately, but what you get instead is me, an old, stodgy, stony raconteur. And I would be an impostor to even claim being’ omniscient’, as I am sculpted in profile and thus condemned to ‘see’ only what is in front of my nose, in a straight line , a truly restricted field of vision, no all-rounded horizon, so don’t expect any 360-degree characters from me.
But, you know how your circumstances may undergo dramatic changes through the millennia, especially if you are a piece of carbon, solidified as rock, which on top of that, has been subjected to some sort of imprinting process by human beings. My legitimacy is based on my vicissitudes, my reliability on my lived experience, some of you might argue, on my ‘positionality’, so though you may find me unidimensional at times, I am sure you’ll find a little cove in your heart that is willing to empathize with my ordeals and thus attest to the veracity of my utterances.
Humans- what can I say, always curious, got to have an explanation for every little thing, nothing must escape the scrutiny of their voracious minds. Everything must stand squared. No little thread hanging anywhere. You chance upon a bison or a mammoth depicted on the walls of a cave with an old chunk of coal: you would think that they’d be content with crouching down on the ground, granted it’d be the hard, uncomfortable cave floor, and simply admire it, catch the still resonating vibes of the child who was practicing her skill as her mother brought in that pre Pact of Silence squirrel that had sacrificed its life to quell their hunger? You’d think they’d sit there really appreciating and letting seep whatever remained of that halo of ingenuity from that little girl who took advantage of that piece of rock jutting out of the wall to give her friends in the cave the illusion that the bison was there in the flesh. After ingesting the Sacrament they could all dance around spinning in circles and run with the bison, enter its consciousness and see the world through its eyes. How is it possible that a six year old then was capable of doing it and now very few humans of any age can? What happened?
Let’s try to get a handle on what transpired to reduce this latest batch of humans in this state, for lack of a better word, these dullards, who occupy the human niche in the chain of existence, at this particular intersection of Space-Time. If the whole story be told, most of them, maybe with the exception of the few who still listen to the stories told by the Ancient Ones, approach the whole thing based on the narratives developed by an army of archaeologists, historians and art historians, who have made their living for decades offering more or less plausible explanations. They’d come to blows to defend their respective positions trailed by their respective graduate students all in line to replace them at an indefinite future time in their respective Chair. You’d see the early ones, for some reason always portly white men ordering about ‘diggers’ of various hues, trying to interpret broken up pieces of clay pots , in an attempt to divine the ‘past’ (as though you could cut that dimension neatly with a knife). They got away with their shenanigans for decades, organizing international conferences during which, in the most modern and comfort equipped facilities, they fought to the last drop of intellect.
But have these people claiming to offer methodologically-sound truths ever stopped to ponder the mystery of the gastrolith? Those bits of gravel (in some cases even large stones) swallowed by birds and so many other ‘animals’ including ‘prehistoric’ ones that act as teeth in the gizzard, breaking down hard foods like seeds in order to accomplish digestion? What is the boundary between what is alive and what is dead? Is the stone beckonicking the beak, eager to engage in adventure down the gastrointestinal tract and meld with a new kind of existence or is the bird reciting prayers as ‘it’ swallows the sacrament? and what about that form of wandering DNA, the errant sequence that tries to colonize your body and stirs up many a battle yet lacking a face that launched a thousand ships? And why have no odes or whole art movements ever sprung up delving into the multifaceted existence of the parasite? Why haven’t whole armies of critics devoted their brain power to comparative studies plumbing the depths of that fine line that divides a parasitic relationship from a symbiotic one? Do you think it would not have yielded any advantage for figuring out in what kind of form humans should live with each other and their natural circumstances?
Sorry for getting carried away by considerations rooted in my own personal interests and identity. Let’s go back to those throngs of experts taking their magnifying lenses to shards, after some decades in their computational ‘time’, they even let a few women join in as well as a few descendants of the people of different hues who for decades had just done the digging. As the tools got refined and the field opened up to new technologies, various factions filmed conflicting documentaries, and sometimes amateurs would conduct series with the most god-awful sound tracks, exhorting viewers to put a ‘like’ and subscribe to their channel. Then, they would try to apply their newly invented tools to discredit concepts and chronologies that had been handed down and taught as the Gospel for decades. From looking at that solitary bison traced with charcoal by a girl eons ago, they would try and reconstruct whether ‘prehistoric cavemen’ hunted them by their lonesome or in a group, whether women participated in the hunts, whether they learned to hunt in packs imitating the wolves. You wouldn’t believe even the popular literature that was spawned out of these imaginations. Featuring cave bears and the like. And not satisfied with that they had to figure out what the women did, given that supposedly they were not hunting. Did they sit lazily inside the cave feeding the flames of the hearth or did they go gently dilly-dallying around, in a most feminine fashion, with the baskets they has ingeniously woven, gathering and delicately picking small animals that came their way?
But I digress. Better take care of the business of my own identity, lest you come to think of me as an unreliable narrator. The humans consider their action so power bestowing, they issue edicts about worshiping graven images, but then proceed to shuttle them around reciting and then writing myths about them, to pass the time during cold winter nights before television was invented, and way before tv series and Netflix. You’d think that being a piece a rock grants you some degree of permanence, a privilege of place, but unlike trees or other plants rooted into more or less the same position, who perform their travels and negotiations subterraneanly, we graven images do travel above ground, though not always of our own volition.