Tag Archives: cave art

Drowning in Love

Once there were idle days that I whiled away sipping Pernod. In a previous incarnation unconcerned with tomorrow my sweetheart of that era draped around me, her cashmere sweater dangling from her shoulders, we together went lost on the backstreet sidewalk cafés in the South of France. We’d whisper and nibble into one another’s ears beneath the parasols. Not her or I were skinny enough to be mistaken for French, still there was this Old World aching sense of late afternoon unquenched desire. We’d pretend that we were lost (before the smartphone ruined this pleasure) on narrow alleys paved of cobblestone. Wandering until we found our hotel where we could make mischief before showering then once more departing to dine long into the late night.

Soft voices mix with chatter. From village to village exploring the Dordogne there is now at last time to study the French people’s way they express themselves with the fine art of the frown. The facial expression is comprehensive and quintessential. A skilled Frenchman often greets the deepest emotions and most noble philosophical possibilities with a frown of a thousand distinct discernably different meanings. It is the smoking of the cigarette, the sipping of an aperitif when a sparkle in their eye provides the answer to the proposition.

If there is good reason to teach a child to swim, then there is equally as important a reason to teach a man or woman how to love. Without instruction a swimmer may drown, and a lover may be stricken with a grief that they may never recover from.

In the café is where the French peruse and parade their libidinous fortune. From a distance and behind the veil of another kind of frown each with cunning skill steal a look here and there at what might have been if only the twisting fated world had turned another way some distant other day. Sipping Ricard Pastis de Marseille over ice with a splash of water whispering into each other’s ears, nudging nose to cheek, assuring fingers tapping lightly upon the top of the others hand.

Bistro chairs, languid ceiling fans, hatching plans, driving the countryside in a Citroën DS with plans to visit Josephine Bakers Château des Milandes. The next day a trip to a nearby two-thousand-year-old hamlet nestled into the side of a cliff. A cave guide, whose family has for countless centuries continuously resided there plunges us into the depths of a nearby opening along a cliff. We feast upon our ancestor’s inscrutable imagery. Only seventy-thousand years ago did prehistoric man first leave behind evidence of their thinking in the abstract, to draw images into rock that infer something more, the art on the cave walls suggests mankind had setoff upon a deeper investigation of consciousness.

Most of all it is the freedom to spend our afternoons seated in the outdoor café’s where we played make-believe. Best was to admire the still thin French couples, affectionate and sure of their skillful use of romance, fanning the moments in public with a tumultuous undercurrent of restrained passion, nursing an aperitif, smoking cigarettes, pursing their lips, simmering smiles, nodding, winking, this was all foreplay and prequel. Slipping away in the late part of the day, lazy jazzy hours spent with windows flung open, a breeze wafting through a dimming room, before supper, attending to the fine details of furthering a partner’s happiness.

In the South of France, this is how skillful love is served. There is no corollary to how the Japanese, Australians or North Americans approach the same task. Courtesans emerging from the French culture was not an accident. Like every other aspect of social life, a great deal of careful attention has been paid to how to heighten matters of the human experience. As for learning how to love I would recommend embarking upon a field trip, a café, then taking your cues and lessons from the French romantics lingering in your midst.

Time is Slow-Eternity is Long



Five hundred miles later I arrived in Ajo, Arizona pitching my tent first- answering questions later.

My RV pull-through host didn’t disappoint packing a small sidearm while collecting my site use fee.

“You’ll want to pack the tent and be out of here by 8.” His tone of voice allowed me to crawl inside my own personal spaghetti western.

Sizing the hombre up I met his bid. “Partner, if I’m still here likely you best call the sheriff. Tell him another camper didn’t survive the night.”

He almost smiled, almost.

I found a town crawling with tarantulas, sun faded storefronts and bargain made in the basement tacos. I found much to recommend or not.

There exists in this frontier outpost an accelerant, a built into the equation escape velocity only to be impeded by highways blocked by checkpoints manned by Border Patrol Agents urging me to exercise my mother tongue before reluctantly waving the native born liberal mercenary through.

From the spoils of this southern quagmire I rolled into the Santa Catalina Mountains where at 8000’ I’d go hike by day and hole up in a cabin by night squaring a few circles with a stubborn yet still quirky open-minded friend.

The circumstances of my being on sabbatical and quarantine were mostly prose-induced and ‘civilization closing in on me’ fed. You heard of Eat-Sleep-Pray, this was more akin to Drink-Brag-Bray.

Fresh air and cheap whiskey possess medicinal qualities. My doctor urged me not put a lot of faith in one half of that equation.

In some quarters even possessing half a heart is better than none. I mean by shopworn insincerity you are in worse shape than me if that sorry half-heart is a winning hand.

But, whether I vent my spleen, spit out a lung, or bust my ass sometimes even the better of us mixed in with the rest of the rot have to belly up and fight off the demon slothful misery of self-pity and get back to the barricades.

If you are not feeling the vital juices of rejuvenation too damn bad, we are all on aching notice from the ticking clock that time goes slow and that soon enough we’ll all learn that eternity is long.


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Caving into Change

Primordial marbles for brains

Petroglyphs in the American Southwest, cave paintings in the South of France, the stunning piece of ochre discovered in the Blombos Caves in Africa dating back some 77,000 years suggest our ancestor’s minds had developed profound new emergent skills in both language and symbolism. It wasn’t our good looks, our sex appeal, our standing on two feet, our thumbs, but instead in the discovery of these artifacts is evidence of our greatest achievement. We celebrate celebrity, fame, wealth, sexuality, power and physical beauty. Much less attention is given to our minds, our wisdom; the power we have to solve problems. In the digital age we mark our moments here with our 0’s and 1’s in
soon to be obsolete storage devices where our ancestors etched into stone or stained onto cave walls markings that remain tens of thousands of years later articulate, evocative, revelatory examples of what concerns they faced in their brief moment of being here. Imagine being dropped off in Nevada and then marching off into the wilderness, trying to remain alive long enough to mark on stone or draw in a cave a message that might weather the onslaught of yet more tens of thousands of years and still be there for future humans to find, to discover, that might move them to wonder about the majesty of your consciousness. Our earliest ancestors are dated back by two or three million of years, but in just
the last 110,000 of those years something changed, something in our minds abilities changed. Now we can not just solve problems with our minds, but it turns out we can also make problems. This paradox has a way of capturing both our brilliance and our stupidity and the challenges we face in not just using our minds, but in changing the way we use our minds, so that we might leave to the universe through our wisdom more than what we found when we arrived.

Highway Home      The Novel

 Here swept out before Noel the boundless Great Basin Desert of the American West. Sagebrush
saturated the land. Horizons stretched wide, and the contours of ridges, rims,
and hills squatted low, shaved by ice, wind, and time. Here, east of Burns, at
first appeared wasteland and despair. It reminded Noel of how he felt within
his heart. At the same time there was a solitude to this place of a kind that
was rare.