‘the urging and the reminder’

(a chinese antique, not the petroglyph of which lopez writes)

‘i remembered that history, a history like this one [an anonymous, nonvandalized petroglyph in a southwestern u.s. desert], which ran deeper than mexico, deeper than the spanish, was a kind of medicine. it permitted the great breadth of human expression to reverberate, and it did not urge you to locate its apotheosis in the present.’ lopez goes on, ‘each of us, individuals and civilizations, has been held upside down like achilles in the river styx. the artist mixing his colors …; an egyptian ruler lying still now …; the faded dorset culture …; the hmong and samburu and walbiri …; the modern nations. this great, imperfect stretch of human expression is the clarification and encouragement, the urging and the reminder, we call history. and it is inscribed everywhere in the face of the land, from the mountain passes of the himalayas to a nameless bajada in the california desert.’

a reminder that all things must pass, that permanence and even storing ‘against time in a pyramid’ or painting on cave walls or drawing pictures in the desert and thinking they’ll last forever or even ’til tomorrow is illusory. yet, while they are here and are beheld by another consciousness, they say something, even if the creator is unknown or unknowable.

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