Stone face (before a cliff face on the
Is there a stone worshiper in us all, and if so what does this mean…?
Faceless, without a face. Yet with all the presence of a face. Calling, without a voice. (And we.) Transfixed and hearing, without sound. Scared. Almost incapable of making eye contact with its colours and its textures, as if caught in a sexual act, in the moment of a visual caress that ought not to be seen, that we would rather have not seen ourselves commit, a moment of transgression - an act of unfaithfulness to ones culture and civilisation.
Therefore the sacrifice of these, the sacrifice of such (our vaunted civilisation, our proud culture, suddenly found to be inadequate, unable to protect us from the eye in the stone, the eyes in the cliff face that stare down upon us with such pitiless pity that we all but shed our historical skin in a sacrifice instantly performed, a ritual unthinkingly undertaken. An exchange relation, where all (as it seemed at the time) was exchanged for some new knowledge, a new identity… (but which?) For something other… (what?).
Paganism, beyond paganism…the ruins of its temples litter the ground before it.
What an approach road (this dromos is made up of the burial sites of later cultures, their archaeology exposed, like the roots of so many worn down teeth - and all cultures are later than this, this prehistory before the litter of history). What a preparation. With the open vistas of the sea, the soaring cliffs, the screaming gulls and other guardians wheeling in the sky (portent-like in the shrieking of their unheeded warnings) What more fitting preparation than the via dolorosa of abandoned temples and altars, sites of offering, (posing again the age old question of any and every aesthetics of ruins…). The palliation, the propriation, of that which sits before (or behind) them. Themselves laid out before it as if they were themselves a desperate offering, an offering of themselves - each as inadequate as the other. As every other. Or else presenting us, those who dare approach, with the attempt at a barrier, successive attempts at a barrier, the construction of something which must lie between this rock with its unnerving faceless face, and ourselves. Between the realm that lies behind it, that of the sea and the sun, and our little island of civilisation that is ourselves. (Failing at this our first true test).
Explanations. Candidates. Definitions. Personifications (prosopopoiea). These all follow. Like a list. A procession. A ritual to cure our exposure, our open wound, a masque to mask our radical insufficiency. Here they come… First, the present, the presence of a Nature as yet untamed (perhaps symbolised by the sea). Then, unseen, the past, some manner of echo persisting from our distant formation, our roots deep in the Palaeolithic and Neolithic, the moment of our becoming settled, becoming civilised, its values bound up with its religion, impossible now. Finally a harbinger from the future, return to our fate, entropy. Our attempt to see. To divine. Our conception of the all-enveloping larger set, blocked, like the view of the sea by this towering rock, somehow unimaginable, rendered un-navigable. What we can not see. Or, in other words, what we have is that tired catch-all and general excuse: the Sublime. The sea in which swim our thoughts when touched by the rock within.
Unless we care to believe that it is the real, the rock, the object without that is responsible.
(The object without a subject…)
Copyright 2005, Peter Nesteruk