Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Being Special

The 18x24 oil on canvas version of this view of Third Avenue near 20th Street.  The Gowanus Expressway is on the left held up by the girders.

In the book The View from the Studio Door, author Ted Orland cites a book by Ellen Dissanayake, What Is Art For?  about how long ago art making started.  He writes, "A hundred thousand years ago humans were already engraving artifacts with symbolic markings, and by seventy thousand years ago were ritualistically decorating their burial sites.  Those who embrace creationism or intelligent design might see this as evidence that artmaking is quite literally a sacred activity, guided and blessed by God and given to mankind alone so that we might understand and honor His design.  There is, however, a disturbing fly in that theological ointment: some of the early sites which hint of ritual and ceremony addressing the meaning to life and death were created by Neanderthals--an entire species doomed, every last one of them, to total extinction.  Where does God fit into that scenario?"

I've read somewhere that Neanderthals were probably killed off by homo sapiens.  With that in mind, another question we might ask, "What makes us so special?" I believe or want to believe that there's a good answer to that question, but the situation always seems precarious.

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