When I first began work on a review of Clayton Eshleman’s Juniper Fuse in July, I imagined yesterday’s moment: my own view of Upper Paleolithic images drawn on a cave wall in France. I did not imagine how distracting the realities of a cave tour would be. Darlene and Deb and I were part of a group of 13 guided into the cave by a young woman whose English was pretty good, but due to a mix-up this was not to be the English tour I had reserved a month ago. We made our way across uneven rocky floor for about 45 minutes until we reached the images, surprisingly realistic drawings of bison, horses, ibex, and ancient oxen. There they were, the work of artists between 10,500 and 11,500 years ago. If I’d hoped for a shaman’s insight into art or life, I missed it. The guide was talking, shining her red-dot pointer on the images, and I was trying to translate snatches of her talk to Deb and Darlene. The moment I remember most is when we stood beneath a high dome and we all turned off our lamps. Before the guide spoke and then raised her voice to make eerie echoes, I stood in a moment of complete darkness and silence. Somehow, out of that place, deep underground, humans began making art more than 200 generations ago. That turned out to be the moment I will remember with much gratitude.

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