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Sunday, July 5, 2009


Mt. Adams from Goldendale

Everyone is a time traveler. The trick to time travel is figuring out how to change direction.

Light that set out 36.7 years ago from the red-giant star, Arcturus, finally shows up in the big telescope at the Goldendale observatory. The image I see is a view of a past that existed when I was 12. It’s one way to look back in time.

Descending into the gorge at Maryhill, a massive basalt layer cake tells a hard to believe story of a lava covered Oregon – a glimpse into deep geologic time.

Mt. Hood in the distance

Here and there on the canvas of eroding basalt, people from the past drew images and symbols that turned out to be concurrent in time with the unexpected collision of European and native cultures (both micro and macro).

I was able to find this gallery of images by carefully scrutinizing the information available in an Oregon Archaeological Society Press Publication called Visions in the Mist: The Rock Art of Celilo Falls, by James D. Keyser, Michael W. Taylor, George Poetschat and David A. Kaiser.

By their size and placement, these markings appear to be intended for public viewing, but what exactly they’re supposed to say is still open to interpretation. Some think that these polychromatic signs may have been related to funeral practices, while others suggest that they may have served as power symbols in shamanistic rituals.

(Danger! Venereal disease?)
Some minority scholars suggest that these markings could just as easily be graffiti.

But even the modern graffiti artist betrays the human desire to be remembered - to make a mark.

If an entire civilization was disappearing because of a plague of smallpox, it is tempting to think that some element of this disaster is captured in the images from that period of apocalyptic change.

Perhaps a preoccupation with life and death leads naturally to the consideration of the rhythm of the setting and rising of the sun as a natural example of dependable rebirth. Maybe the night is not so long if one can cling to the promise of dawn.

A figure of death?

...a figure with an uncertain future – a nowhere man?

…if so, why the juxtaposition of a pale stick-figure to such great colorful sun wheels.
...why the proximity to such a dynamic symbol of life?
Is it a religious drawing?
… a magical drawing?
…or some dude sunbathing and tripping on mushrooms.

Not all of the art is intended for public display. Some of it seems representational.

…and some seem like precious memories hidden away in the protective recesses of the earth.

The Narrative Image NAVIGATION AID

Just a reminder:

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