Will Hunt writes the story of archaeologist and artist Carolyn Boyd’s quest for the key to unfolding the mystery of the ancient rock paintings in the caves near Dead Mans Pass near the Rio Grande. This director of SHUMLA (Studying Human Use of Materials, Land, and Art) has “developed a system to understand this enigmatic art.” He elaborates: “Working like a detective, she discovered a symbolic code that reveals narratives in the paintings, which she believes can be read, almost like an ancient language.” Of course, she has her detractors, but her narratives seem very plausible and, at least, very telling of our fascination with man’s drive to understand his reason very being on the planet.
Boyd refused to believe what Harry Shafer writes in his Ancient Texas, “‘The meanings [of a culture’s symbols] are lost when a culture comes to an end.'” She struck out to undercover connections between then and now. The human narrative woven into all symbols. And she succeeds in a remarkable way.
She said she was “reading a story that hadn’t been read for thousands of years. ‘I was looking at an account of the formation of the cosmos . . . with multiple levels of meaning. It is a creation story, a prescription for ritual, in a sense, a cosmological map.”
What cave paintings are you leaving behind? Do you have a creation story, a prescription for ritual, a cosmological map? Is is decipherable? Will it survive thousands of years? Is there enough life in it to embue with enduring meaning? Where does our culture stand at the moment? How do you stand in it?