The Duck, Duck Goose, Goose Tour
with The Wild Irishman
I could go everyday for year and still not get enough. It’s a subtle experience, yet all the pieces are there if you are a devoted student and go with appreciation for the four corners of it all. A Disneyland experience it is not. Still, you drive up into the woods and enter through what could be described as a well maintained mine shaft. One thing I didn’t know about Lascaux is that is it a subterranean cave and it was discovered when a tree uprooted in a storm, leaving a hole, that a dog fell into, that four boys found, when they tried to find their dog. They threw rocks down into the hole where the dog disappeared, heard the rocks falling downhill, knew there was a cave. They returned several days later, with a knife and torches and would make the hole larger and then slide down the cave floor into ringside seats for the first showing of ‘Cro-Magnon Man’ in 17,000 years. The first human beings inside the cave in over a dozen millennia literally fell into a prehistoric peloton of bison, stags, ibex, horses and bulls. So this completely appeals to my raised-in-North-Idaho-childhood self, where we roamed the woods and the hills, floated the rivers and swam the lakes, explored with unabated curiosity and courage and never, ever got tired of the endless summer that was our Idaho. This is Lascaux. The find of a childhood.
The art is as it’s described: dazzling. big. colorful. The created perspective is startling. After spending a week with Joe McNally talking incessantly about light and depth of field, I like to think I had a better experience today than I would have two weeks ago.. Life is sheer serendipity sometimes, c’est non? As McNally would say, ya gotta light up tha front without blowin' up tha back. So I was utterly flabbergasted to see how they used the contours of the rock and the size of the animals in relation to each other to make a deep and wide panorama, like looking up at the starry heavens in the Big Sky on hot August night. What I didn’t know about the art is that it’s layered; there are up to four colored sets of animals, layered over each other in exquisite fashion, not unlike fused glass. And once your eye calibrates to the darkness, you see each layer without being prompted. It’s spine-tingling.
What’s not described is that people will bring their very small children. The children will cry and whine because they are scared or bored. It’s a short tour. Only 45 minutes. The art was probably fashioned by men. I tell myself that these young parents just don’t know any better and when those children are 20 they will say to each other what the hell were we thinking? I tell myself I will go back tomorrow and get another 45 minute tour. And go back the next day and then again whenever I can until I get enough. And I tell myself that virtually every artist in the Renaissance was male and that most of their patrons were male.
It’s still too big and too wide to fully absorb. I will continue to think and read about the caves at Lascaux for a very long time. And in the meantime, if anyone suggests that this is not an experience where you feel the earth move under your feet, I’ll just smile and say to myself, if you actually get a chance to go, you better hold on--because you just might fall down a prehistoric rabbit hole on one of the most thrilling rides of your life.