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Chauvet Cave
Extract from novel by Edward Docx
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'Let Go My Hand' is a superb 21st century novel by Edward Docx. For me this passage was a highlight - he doesn't actually specify which cave is visited but I think from the description it must be Chauvet.

We can see nothing – absolutely nothing. So black is the darkness that I swear I can hear the shape of the walls, taste the taste stone, smell the water that has passed through from the Earth from above.
‘Now’, he says. ‘Now look with your eyes. Friends, look!’
Gradually, gradually, a light grows. Like a hallucination. Like a red shape behind our eyelids. So that we think we’re mad. Or reborn from the womb. But it widens and it spreads so that the opposite wall starts to shape itself, the light growing sharper and brighter, sharper and brighter. We see ochre hand prints; the human mark. We see strange red patterns and dots; human signs. We begin to see the outlines of animals – the beasts. The human mind, the human imagination, the human signature. And now the light starts flood the wall and we see that these animals crouch and creep and crawl this way and that all around us – lions, hyenas, panthers, cave bears. The light brightens still further. There is an owl daubed in white paint. We sense the finger that smeared the surface of the wall on that day thirty thousand years ago. There is rhino notched and scored in black. We see the artist has chosen a certain place on the wall where the shape of the rock serves his purposes. We see a heavy-haunched bison painted in sweeping flowing lines. We sense the human being standing back and admiring his artistry in a flicker of his torchlight. We see the curved flourish of the antlers of a reindeer. We see head after head of black-drawn horses, each on the other’s shoulder, as if caught in the instant of the herd’s fierce gallop, their black eyes somehow still alive.
We are silent. Dad’s voice is full of wonder: ‘I’ve wanted to see this all my life’, he says.
I get this feeling the opposite of sickness – the feeling that these paintings are being sucked inside me and that they will somehow live there for ever and ornament my soul.
‘This is it,’ Dad says. ‘The beginning’. His voice has the hushed tone of long yearning met – as though he has been trying to get to this moment ever since he was born. As though now that he apprehends the beginning, he might understand the ending. ‘This is the best we can know it, boys. The dawn of a distinctly human kind of consciousness.


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tjj
Posted by tjj
9th January 2019ce
10:40

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