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Other Perspectives

Pierre Peju

Novelist, art critic, and philosopher, Pierre Péju is the author of several essays, novellas, and novels. Extract from a text on the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc cave: "dark old belly where something human is found, finds itself, between the act of drawing and the eternal silence of the beasts". 

"And what if the Aurignacian man had not clear awareness, but the 'intuition' that something was changing, that he himself was about to move away from one world, from one way of living or way of life in which human and animal shared nature without any real separation? [...]

And what if the Aurignacian man had painted, with this still vague feelings that an imperceptible detachment was underway? The human was awakening to a new self, discovering that he was capable of 'thinking his thought', of imagining and imaging his imagination, and was thus beginning to move away from the animal forever.

Then the act of 'painting beasts' should be seen as a sort of homage or witnessing, a dream of being like them, of entering into their mystery, but also as a rite of separation, a rupture which remains a suture, a connection, almost a regret, and why not: an endless goodbye which would last for millennia.

Goodbye to the beasts!

So are these miraculously discovered drawings and these signs fragments and traces, shapes, colours and suspended movements, snatches and flashes, human attempts at remembrance as a very long forgetting began. Ours. Marvels which fast sank back into obscurity. Mute. Forever haunting. Dark within the dark."

Pierre Péju, Extract from "Clartés du commencement : une descente dans la grotte Chauvet". Philosophie magazine, n°70, June 2013