Saturday, January 19, 2008

At the Back of My Brain

My daughter put a slide show widget on my computer and, as it scrolls through my photo files, this photo of Boomie and her babies pops up. For a long time, whenever I saw it, something familiar registered in the back of my brain and it was NOT of cats on my dining room floor. I just didn't know what. There just seemed to be something about those stretched out cats, the muted color, the je ne sais quoi. . . . At last, there was no 'aha' moment, I just began to feel the connection, almost like a tiny fizz of electrical current.

It seemed to open a window of memory into the Cave at Niaux in the South of France. There, in the black rotunda, we stood where the animals were randomly, yet purposefully, drawn. There, in hand-held light, we took in the mystery of the tumble of horses and bison on the rough walls. There, deep in the mountain, we watched the minutes rush by and knew there would not be enough time before we had to return to the 21st Century. It was a powerful experience and I do not understand why the images of a puddle of kittens should unlock that memory.

Yet there it is; that fizz of recognition. It escapes explanation; perhaps it doesn't need one. How often does this happen when I don't make the connection? Is this what is meant by "letting your past inform your creativity?" Are there edges and marks and words which I don't quite recognize, but when used, would give layers of meaning to a simple creation?

Or is this just a glitch in the files at the back of my brain?


Note: Although other caves are more well-known, many are closed and have created exact replicas for visitors. Niaux is still open and numbers of visitors and length of times for each tour are tightly controlled.
For more on Niaux, go here.
For a description of my visit there, see my blog entry for April 19.

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