Art...as the first method to communicate

It fits better with the conviction held by most artists, that art is the epitome of human life, the truest record of insights and feelings, that the strongest military or economic society- without art is poor in comparison with the most primitive tribe of savage painters,   dancers, or idol-carvers. Wherever a society has really achieved culture, (in the ethnological, not the popular sense of social forms) it has begotten art, not late in its career, but at the very inception of it.-Susanne K. Langer

( epitome refers to something that is the ultimate representative of its class.)

Susanne Langer; I once read is the "Vanguard" of any great Society-(vanguard→ "leading part of ")

The following is from....http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/chauvet/2nd-visit.php


The October of 2001 was hailed as the warmest since records began to be kept. The cliffs of the Ardeche Canyon shone golden in the late afternoon sunshine as my wife and I drove toward the town of Vallon Pont d’Arc. The car’s roof was open and we looked straight up into a cloudless sky. It felt like a midsummer day and matched my happy mood to perfection. I was on my way to meet Jean Clottes for my second visit to the Chauvet Cave.

Two years had passed
Chauvet Cave Art Rhino Horses Painting
John Robinson studies the Panel of the Horses in the Chauvet Cave
Click photograph for enlargement
Two years had passed since my first visit to the Cave. I had come away from the magic world of Chauvet with impressions that had left me in a state of wonderment. In the interval between then and now not a day had passed without my thinking about what I had seen and felt. The images had constantly been in my mind’s eye since then, and left me with hundreds of questions. On this visit I hoped that I would be able to peer through at least some of the veils that shroud the secrets locked inside Chauvet.
New mental approach
The first visit had been one of the greatest experiences of my life and had made an enormous impact on my way of thinking about Art. However over the last two years I have found that it has made an even greater impact on how I thought about Cro Magnon, so I would make this visit with a completely different mental approach. My keenness to once again be in the cave was now linked more to thinking about the Artists than about the Art. I knew the adrenaline would once again race through my veins, but what would my reaction be this time?

Evolution and Artistic Creativity

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
For me the two most wonderful things in the Universe are firstly, the Evolution of Mankind, and secondly, our Artistic Creativity. The fact that Mankind can balance on two feet and walk upright, is a miracle. The miracle is possible because a super computer inside our skulls interprets the millions of messages that travel every second between our feet and our brains. This super computer is our Mind, the seat of our Artistic Creativity, the power that enables Mankind to transcend Darwin's conviction that "no innate tendency to progressive development exists".
Marcus Aurelius
I recently read something I think illustrates this perfectly. Marcus Aurelius wrote, “You consist of three things only, your body, your life, your mind; only the last is subject wholly to your control. All else is mere smoke”. Art is the pinnacle of Human Civilisation. I believe that the discovery of the Art in the Chauvet Cave is as important as Mankind travelling into Space and walking on the Moon. Art is the pinnacle of Human Civilisation. The Florentine Sperone Speroni, 16th century Renaissance writer, defined the key to Civilisation as “the Creation of Wealth and the Patronage of the Arts”. Art is the culmination of Mankind’s achievements and the oldest evidence of its existence is in the Chauvet Cave.

George Chaloupka

Jean had suggested that we meet at his Research headquarters so he could introduce me to George Chaloupka, the author of a book on the Dynamic figures of Arnhem Land, which are somewhat akin to the Bradshaw figures. He is the founding patron of Kakadu Park in Australia, and has done great things for the preservation and protection of Aborigine culture and art.
The First Veil is Pont d'Arc
As soon as Jean was ready to leave we drove round to the vineyard where the track up to Chauvet starts. On the way we stopped to visit the river for a look at the Pont d’Arc in the morning light. What a spectacular site. The Arch spans the river in a lovely graceful sweep of white limestone. It is one of the most impressive natural phenomena that I have ever seen.
A symbol of magical potency
The water was crystal clear and the glassy surface of the river reflected the arch as it glided serenely through its vast open mouth. A flock of over fifty doves skimmed past us and flew under the arch. The Bear Clan must have found the Arch just as awesome 35,000 years ago as it is today. I agree with Jean, they must have seen it as a symbol of great magical potency.

Nearest to the Arch

Was the reason that the Chauvet Cave was the one chosen out of all the many caves in the Ardeche Canyon for these special paintings been because it is nearest to the Arch? The fact that the Arch looks like a Lion leaping across the river from the downstream side could only have added to the potency, the Spirit of the Place.
Chauvet Cave Ardeche River
Ardeche River
Click photograph for enlargement
Soon ran out of breath
It was time to climb up the track to the cave. The first part of the climb is quite steep and in my hurry to get to the cave I soon ran out of breath. Jean took over the lead and set a proper pace.
Terrace across the cliff
We came out of the woods and stood looking out over the valley at the beginning of the terrace that cuts across the face of the cliff. The view out down the canyon was magnificent. This terrace was cut by the Ardeche river millions of years ago when it began to excavate the Canyon as it raced to join the Rhone and the Mediterranean.
Bears winter hibernation
The bears must have used this terrace to reach the cave for their winter hibernation, as this is the only easy way up to the Chauvet cave. When the Bear Clan artists had arrived in the Ardeche Canyon some 35,000 years ago, they must have followed the bears to their lair up this path as well.
Five and half million years ago
Standing on the edge of the terrace I thought about the forming of the landscape and the fact that the Mediterranean Sea was dry five and half million years ago. It amazes me to think that at that time, while the rivers of Spain and France were flowing into a shallow lake between Spain and Sardinia, in Africa our ancestors were just beginning to walk on two feet!
Summer and winter habitats
The Bear Clan would have stood where I was now standing and gazed out at the same beautiful scenery. They would have perhaps watched the herds making their way along the valley as they migrated between their summer and winter habitats. Below me would have passed woolly rhinoceros, mammoths, bears and horses as they foraged. Lions could have stalked their prey watched by hyenas waiting to scavenge the remains of their kill.
While sitting in the dark of the cave two years ago, watching Jean working with a colleague on the Horse panel, I had experienced a kind of daydream. Seeing the two men studying the painting with their flashlights had summed up an image in my brain of cave men doing the same thing but with burning flares. My imagination had then conjured up a scene of the Bear Clan arriving and a Shaman performing a ceremony in front of the altar before going into the Holy of Holies to confront the Sorcerer.

Suzana Herculano-Houzel,explains fire and cookings role in our brain's development

David Bohm speaking on Art

"The significance of wholeness however is that everything is related internally to everything else. Therefore in the long run it has not meaning for people to ignore the needs of others. Similarly, if we regard the world as made up of a lot of little externally related bits, we will try to exploit each bit and we will end up by destroying the planet. At present we do not adequately realize that we are one whole with the planet and our whole being and substance comes out of it.

A key part of the general significance is our overall worldview, and such worldviews have profound effects on values. Therefore what we say or assume about these things is not to be taken lightly. An inquiry of this kind clearly has a broader significance for the whole of our culture. To see what this means, I would first point out that culture in my view is shared meaning. Whatever form of culture we see is the sharing of meaning whether this be in science, in art, or spirituality.

What is art? Going back to the derivation of words, the word art is based on a Latin root meaning to fit. It appears in English in words like artifact, articulate, article, and artisan. All this suggests that in earlier times art was not regarded as being separate from life as a whole. But with the general tendency of civilization to fragmentation we have broken things up and have said that art is a special activity. It has very little practical significance and is primarily aesthetic in its value. However, as far as art is concerned I would emphasize that fitting means coherence. In its own way art is generally concerned with making coherent wholes. Many people are looking for holism but not all holistic views are coherent.

For example, Nazism aimed at a kind of totalitarian approach which means whole but it was highly incoherent and it certainly did not bring about good results. It is clear that we are looking for coherent wholeness not just any wholeness.

The artist like the scientist is looking to create a coherent whole but he or she differs from the scientist in that he or she is not looking for general knowledge of what is necessary nor is the artist as a rule building a collective structure of art. Rather artists generally want to create individual works – not necessarily, absolutely so. A given work of art may have a universal significance but it has to be in a concretely, perceptible form experienced in an actual moment or succession of moments. It is not treated by rules or universal laws. So it is not like a scientific theory whose very essence is the aim for universality and necessity. Necessity is perceived in each work of art.

Art has its own internal necessity that is not mainly an abstract, general structure of ideas that an artist might build up over a period of time. The individual work of art therefore can stand by itself whereas scientific theories have to be seen as parts of an overall body of scientific knowledge. It seems to be commonly agreed upon that art may have a deep spiritual significance not only in its content but in the creativity that produces it. We may therefore think of the artistic spirit and ask whether life as a whole could be infused with this artistic spirit as well as with the scientific spirit. That is to say in our actions from moment to moment we would have a perceptive attitude, not mechanical, not repetitious or routine in which we would be moving towards making everything fit, to cohere.

Even science should properly done with this artistic spirit in its actual doing rather than by following rules and formula. I do not think that a science of science would be right nor would it get very far. I think it would be best to call it the art of science. Without the scientific spirit and the artistic spirit we cannot have an overall coherent spirituality. To have incoherent spirituality is not going be helpful. It could be said that science, art, and spirituality are the principle content of culture. There is not a great deal of culture that would not be somehow included in these if they broaden the meaning of these terms like I would to do. As long as these elements are separate we cannot have an overall coherent culture. Since culture is shared meaning we then cannot have a coherent shared meaning. That is to say is our culture will ultimately have little or no meaning. Without meaning our society will fall apart. It will have no value and no purpose.

We can see evidence that society is falling apart throughout the world. Not only that, but the individual cannot be healthy or whole in a culture that is split at its foundations. If individuals lack coherence, significance, value, and purpose they will suffer not only mentally but also physically. And this regards social incoherence and individual coherence feed on each other. Individuals living in an incoherent society tend to become inwardly incoherent and then in turn they help to make up an incoherent society.

The world is now facing a series of crises: political, social, economic, ecological, and spiritual, which threatens the very existence of our civilization and perhaps of the species as well. On the one hand science has opened up enormous possibilities for a creative and happier life for all of humanity."-David Bohm   

Science, Spirituality, and the Present World Crisis

(Presented at the 12th International Transpersonal Association Conference by David Bohm; this conference ran from June 20 to June 25th, 1992)