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Other Perspectives

Régis Debray

Writer and university academic, Régis Debray is the author of over fifty works. In 2013, he published Le Stupéfiant image. De la grotte Chauvet au Centre Pompidou, in which he describes visiting the Chauvet cave as a literally fundamental experience.

"The Pont d’Arc or the sacred stripped clean! By chance as we clean the Ardèche gorges, after other resurgences in other parts of the world. Stripped clean of its cultivated and religious clothing. I mean, of our religious trappings. There it is in its pure, raw, wild state, freshly plucked, a flower in its first spring, in its carnal hymn to life, without affectation or distortion. We will never know if these engineers of the image, these magicians of reality, already knew the notion of the sacred, the oldest and most universal word in the known languages. If they did not have this word, they clearly had the sentiment behind it. This sentiment is the comfort that we draw from the spectacle of all that replenishes, redresses and re-energises all mortals, relatively conscious as we are, as we fight as best we can against decay. Anti-death, what Malraux called anti-fate, has seen many artistic translations over the centuries, but rarely do we feel as ingenuously as we do here all the animal breath, the breath of life, the desperate fight against death that goes into it, in what a last-minute habit, two thousand and some years later, in an overly otherworldly word that erases its primary and pulmonary meaning of respiration, calls spirituality". 

Régis Debray, Le Stupéfiant image. De la grotte Chauvet au Centre Pompidou, Gallimard, 2013, p. 40