Saturday, June 21, 2008


Got a very good night's sleep. Stayed in bed till almost 1:00. I needed the rest--it's been so crazy around here lately and I haven't been able to nap. I went to the gym last night, exhausted as I was--and upset that Lucy didn't seem to be getting better--but I felt fine afterwards, and the rest of the night went well.

This afternoon I ate surf 'n' turf at Flanigan's while reading my magazine. Finished up an article on crazy Keith Olberman, then walked up to Starbucks for a coffee (and after that a Jamba Juice). I sat at a table outside, under the roof (vs. an umbrella), reading an article on prehistoric cave art (not available online). Fortunately it had cooled off by then as the storm clouds rolled in, and I was expecting it to storm any minute but it never did and hasn't since.

We all know about the caves at Lascaux, but actually a good number caves in the region contain prehistoric art. Chauvet was discovered in 1994 and contains the oldest cave art that we know of -- at least 32,000 years old.* Moreover, it's considered to be just as sophisticated as later cave art.

What emerged with that revelation was an image of Paleolithic artists transmitting their techniques from generation to generation for twenty-five millennia with almost no innovation or revolt. A profound conservatism in art, Curtis notes, is one of the hallmarks of a "classical civilization." For the conventions of cave painting to have endured four times as long as recorded history, the culture it served, he concludes, must have been "deeply satisfying"--and stable to a degree it is hard for modern humans to imagine.

The top drawing is from Chauvet and the others from Niaux. What the paintings "mean," if anything, is the subject of much speculation.

The bearded horses have been reintroduced into French animal parks from Central Asia.

*The art at Lascaux is 14,000-17,000 years old and was discovered in 1940.

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