Power Of The Image - III

Tuesday, 9 October 2007 2 responses

The buffalo with a vengeance is a powerful enemy. It can toss a lion high and easily kill it. Yet they are peaceful grazing animals who prefer to find safety and speed in the herd. And it was herd animals such as bison and horses those cave artists mostly chose to paint.

We can observe two kinds of consciousness in the beast of the herd. When they graze and move the animals are peaceable and in the presence of a predator only know to escape. If a calf is taken down, however, that may change. Another mindset can kick in as they protect the ongoing reproduction of the herd.

We can find similarities to herd behaviour in humans. Take Raves as an example. I have been told a great attraction of the Rave is the oneness, "everybody thinking the same thing", a sense of belonging as they move into the state of altered consciousness.

Would those early cave painters not have been aware of the awesome power of a moving herd of gigantic bison. And to what would they attribute that power. We can think of these beasts moving in an unconscious kind of way and it is undoubtedly a particular ability of animals to do so. Perhaps the artists desire was to tap into that power. No, the animals were not Gods, but might the Chauvet cave people have considered them to be moving in that power of creation we call God.

Many creative people and some sportsmen will tell us that the 'flow' is being in that place where the unconscious works for us with ease. It is the place of greatest human effectiveness where instinct can be trusted. There is no need for thinking problems through. Creativity comes in a stream, we can know exactly which colours to use for a particular passage of paint and produce the finest brushwork at surprising speed.

We can understand humans as having deductive reasoning with an ability to solve problems. Yet it is usually necessary to find ways of getting into the flow, something which is quite natural for animals. The buffalo whose calf is taken may at times come to another kind of mental state which is not normal for them. We may also observe a change in thought pattern in domestic animals as they interact with human kind.

In these cave paintings we can see the deep feeling of reverence for these wild animals who moved so naturally in the unconscious state, just knowing which way to travel, having no question in their minds where a destination lay. They had the power of an absolute complete security in that knowing.

Present day mankind may well question the use of animals as helpers to find spiritual power and effectiveness, but they were very much an everyday part of those ancient peoples lives.

Mike Fone

2 responses: to “ Power Of The Image - III so far...

  • Anonymous 10.10.07

    I most often listen to classical music while painting and when I get into a good rhythm I'll play whatever CD is in over and over until I'm through with that passage. I guess my brush adapts to the beat of the music.

  • Kim 10.10.07

    I can relate to the painting to music too Boyd....

    thanks for the post Mike.....very interesting....I'm sure that the animals were favourite subjects of the cave people for the reason that you have stated.....perhaps we need to get back to nature to be truly creative.....