Art is nothing but the expression of our dream; the more we surrender to it, the closer we get to the inner truth of things, our dream-life, the true life that scorns questions and does not see them. Franz Marc.
An ice age can last hundreds of millions of years. When that age appears to have passed, the motion and movement left in its wake continues, affecting geographical and biological stratospheres, an ongoing process corresponding with and informing Earth’s activity, in this all-inclusive, all-encompassing, present.
In 2016, a carbon dating of bones from a brown bear excavated in County Clare, Ireland, came up at 12,500 years old. And the readings confirm the bear as hunted, butchered and cooked by humans, families who possibly crossed a glacial land-bridge, linking south-west England to south-east Ireland, during the last ice age. Dated between 10860 and 10641 BC, these are the earliest known findings of human habitation in Ireland. Are these people, who left England back in the Palaeolithic era, by bridge or boat, the root of Irish descent? If so, who were their forebears?
Do the paintings found in a complex of caves in the Dordogne region of southwestern France tell us of a cultured person in deification and wonder of life. Is their apparent artistic dexterity, thought to be around 17,000 years old, reminiscent of the great painters and printmakers such as Franz Marc and Pablo Picasso, coincidental? Were these cave painters aware of leaving such a marked trail? Where did their journey begin? Don’t ask questions, just paint the picture.
A recent discovery of stone tools, unearthed on the coast of Norfolk, was carbon-dated to reveal a human presence between 950,000 and 700,000 years ago. Were these ancestors the first of us to settle in England? Wherever they came from, they stayed in the area until the animals grew weary, the berries and root vegetables scarce. When the resources run thin, do or die, these hunter-gatherers, compelled to seek food further afield, move on and on, out of the immediate wilderness into the next. Were they following a migratory path? Did they walk from continental Europe over the land that was to Britain and onwards toward Ireland? We may not qualify or quantify their journey; with the invention of radiocarbon dating in 1946, we have a genuine sense of who they were and their incredible ability to survive.
With the instruments of science now, it is possible to analyse and collect data from Earth’s formation and structure, which tell us of ages preceding the Triassic and Jurassic period, an eternity before humans. This data tells how such ages, way back in the annals of time, shapes, and informs the World’s course as it makes its way through space now.
Billions of years ago, a reflex action creates waves of actions and reactions that make the first known ice age. This epoch rebounds successively, with an infinite amount of actions and reactions that flow, mould, shape and inform the earth’s existence as it spins on its axis and revolves around the Sun today. Likewise, and to lesser or greater degrees every other age, every creature, animal, plant, insect, right down to subatomic molecules create and created by a continuing process of cause and effect — galaxy upon galaxy, a universe within a universe, forming and informing, life after death, death after life, composing and decomposing in everlasting, all-encompassing…..
The process of plate tectonics continues to shape the Earth’s continents and oceans and the life they harbour. Intrinsic analysis of particles and mineral, found in rocks, fossils and sediment, determines the formation of Earth at 4.6 billion years. The earliest evidence of life-forms begins 1.1 billion years later. Fossils of vertebrate appear in the 665-million-year-old rocks of the Trezona Formation of South Australia. One of the earliest known humans is Homo habilis, or “handy man,” who lived about 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago in Eastern and Southern Africa. The entire history of humankind is but a miniscule fraction on the timescale of the planet.
In human sophistication and purpose — my world, your planet, our galaxy, their age, my lifetime, our land and so on — it might seem as we have the rule of law, ownership, over and above existence. Objectifying actuality, in the same way, we fix ideas, materials and money in place — to make or break life. In just a few hundred years, humankind has taken the planet to the brink of destroying what has taken some 4.6 billion years to make. Damaging the biosphere, the Earth’s surface, hydrosphere, and atmosphere with the loss of wild lands, over-exploitation of the oceans, production of greenhouse gases, degradation of the ozone layer, and general degradation of soil, air, and water quality. Easy to speak of such things, uneasy to fathom.
Hunger pinned to the banks of existence, ekes out a living or sinks with the flow. Filtered and made up, we bow in thanks to a god that breaches the underbelly of clouds with a blow. But when conquest represents the bulk of what it means to be human, we stake our claim or go the way of the dodo — with time running out, lifestyles under fire, setting out boundaries, filtering out the dregs, how else would we rise to meet the best of our kind? A loaded and sarcastic question that many contemporary persons now have in common.
Our representatives, leaders, and companies sit around the table to negotiate the lot on offer. The more prolific the product, the greater need there is for resources to feed the result. Who sustains, who deprives, determines those who have the most leverage and those who survive. Who are we if we are not of country and family dependent on Earth in kind? What is Earth, if starved of biodiversity and ethical husbandry?
If history doesn’t overwhelm us, the plague might, then do we accept lockdown as the end of life?
Of course not! Bells and whistles on the outside are nice, but humans don’t make the trees grow, a kingfisher glide to swoop, the stream to gurgle like a baby, or the sun to light up the day. Here for such a sweet short time, rather than leave for mars, put our money where our mouth is, nurture nature to thrive so that those who come after might survive.
Do we run from what has gone before, seeking hope with some imagined absolution in the future, or step off the angelic, demonic carousel and work to blossom, a human being over the human doing?
Doing, making, inventing, creating and so on gives us a measure of humankind, our earthborn brilliance; generating comfort and health unimagined not that long ago. And the more we measure ourselves in terms of wealth and wellbeing, we increasingly see human life in this light. Our earth born presence continues to commodify the surroundings, an opportunity to buy, swap and control nature for a place we have in mind on the morrow. With power and wealth, you not only exist, but revered and admired too. Without those trappings you are nobody. And being nobody makes mockery of majority peoples walking this earth. Making a name, becoming significant, must be born of wanting. Clearly our examples, set by the imperial civilisations of yesteryear, are alive and kicking. Insignificant as we may feel, our clambering to make that mark has a significant knock-on effect, perhaps more than we ever realise.
The threat of an alien invasion, broadside, along with the massive increase in population, has become ever more embroiled. You’re right; I’m wrong! Good, now get in line, bigot! However life comes, whatever shape, corporate, consumer, evolved, unevolved, our domination, a tidal wave of given authority, sweeps across millennia, century to century.
From the oldest Empire, Akkadian, to the Vikings, Phoenicians, Greeks, Egyptians, Alexandrians, to Achaemenid, the First Persian Empire, the imperial way set the teachings and beliefs in motion for one person to overrule the other. Our ancestral line, with its autocratic ruling, as you taught us so eloquently all those years ago, is closer to home, well documented, and if we care to look pivotal to our collective coding today.
Celtic people inhabited Briton from the Iron Age through to the Middle Ages, 750 years. Under Julius Caesar’s leadership, the Romans invaded Briton in 54 BC as part of his long-lasting military campaign against the Celts. And after four hundred years of Roman rule came the Normans.