Tour May 31 - June 14, 2004
Gastronomy and Prehistoric Cave Art of France,
is sponsored for the 5th year by The Ringling School of Art and
Design, Sarasota, Florida. The tour is led by Clayton
Eshleman, a Professor Emeritas at Eastern Michigan University
and a National Book Award winner who has researched Ice Age Cave
Art for the past 30 years. His book, Juniper
Fuse: Upper Paleolithic Imagination & the Construction of the
Underworld, has just been published by Wesleyan University
Press. (See below for more details on the book!)
leaders also include Caryl Eshleman, French coordinator Mathilde
Sitbon, and, as guest lecturer, the poet Robert Creeley. Travelers
meet in Paris and spend several days there, visiting the National
Museum of Prehistory and enjoying group dinners at Michelin-starred
restaurants. On a private motor coach the group leaves for the Dordogne
(7 hours southwest of Paris) on the 3rd, and over the next 10 days
stay in lovely rural inns in Les Eyzies, Cahors, and on a private
lake south of Limoges.
in the Dordogne, there are visits to six decorated (24,000 to 10,000
years ago) Ice Age caves, which Eshleman lectures on before the
visits. Such caves are in effect the workshops where our direct
ancestors made the truly incredible move from no image of the world
to images, many of which are realistic, magical, and not "primitive"
details from Clayton Eshleman: The
regional prehistory museum in Les Eyzies has been under renovation
and expansion for a decade and should be open this spring. It will
be three times the size of the old museum and include a lot of new
material. In Cahors, where we spend two nights at the Michelin-listed
Hotel Terminus, guests who are wine lovers will have a chance to
sample the largest Cahors selection in the world. Also, while we
are in Cahors (mainly to visit the nearby caves of Pech-Merle and
Cougnac) we will visit the Clos La Coutale Cahors winery for a guided
tour and tasting. After leaving Cahors (Cahors is a city as well
as a wine!) we will drive to La Roche L'Abeille, the Michelin-starred
inn on a private lake south of Limoges. This is a beautiful place,
and perfect for a wrap-up discussion on what we have seen. I give
my last lecture there, on "cave art theory," bringing
the group up to date on what others have written about cave images
throughout the 20th century.
group also visits local markets, a medieval nut oil mill, charming
villages along the Dordogne River, and samples regional cuisine.
The group returns to Paris on June 13, with departure on the 14th.
The tour is a unique combination of an exploration of the origin
of image making, and a sensual introduction to one of France's most
beautiful regions. For further information, contact Nancee Clark,
Director of Ringling Schools Continuing Studies and Special
Programs, at 941/955-8866, email cpe@ringling.EDU,
or see the brochure. (Adobe pdf file: http://www.rsad.edu/pdf/CSCaveArtBrochure2003.pdf)
the write-up on Clayton's wonderful book. It's a marvelous exploration
that I'm sure you'll enjoy.
Fuse: Upper Paleolithic Imagination & the Construction of the
Underworld by Clayton Eshleman (Wesleyan University
Press, 2003) is not only the first book on the origin of image-making
(and the roots of poetry) by a poet, but also the first book on
the deep past to draw upon depth psychology, in particular the work
of C.S. Jung, James Hillman, and Wolfgang Giegerich. Named after
the hand lamp wicks used to light cave walls, the book, in Ronald
Gottesman's words, is "a fabulous three-dimensional tapestry
of scholarship. Original and intense, it poses serious questions
about human nature and its relation to the animal and natural worlds."
Fuse is also a profound examination, in poetry and prose, of the
nature of poetic imagination and personal myth-making. Besides depth
psychologists, Eshleman has also drawn upon the work of Sandor Ferenczi,
Geza Roheim, Mikhail Bakhtin, Weston LaBarre, Charles Olson, N.O.
Brown, Kenneth Grant, and Hans Peter Duerr which he brings to bear
upon such archeologists as Andre Leroi-Gourhan, the Abbe Breuil,
Alexander Marshack, S. Giedion, Jean Clottes, Paul Bahn, and Margaret
Conkey. Because cave imagery is an inseparable mix of psychic constructs
and perceptive observations, Eshleman has based his writing on poetic
imagination as well as thorough fieldwork and research. Sometimes
a section is all poetry, sometimes all prose--at other times it
is a shifting combination like a Calder mobile, with poetry turning
into prose, prose turning into poetry.
Pulitzer Prize winning poet Gary Snyder has written: "Archeologists
and artists have written on southwestern European cave art, but
none have given us a book like this. Clayton Eshleman has explored
and inspected almost all ot the great cave art of southwestern Europe
including many caves that are not open to the public and require
special permission. Now with visionary imagination, informed poetic
speculation, deep insight, breath-taking leaps of mind, Eshleman
draws out the underground of myth, psychology, prehistory, and the
first turn of the human mind toward the modern. Juniper Fuse opens
us up to our ancient selves: we might be weirder (and also better)
than we thought."
wrote me this recently: "On Jan 5 I fly to Paris, to rent a
car and drive south 7 hours to the Gorge d'Ardeche to visit the
Chauvet Cave, discovered in 1994, and considered to be as important,
if not more, than Lascaux. It has the oldest radiocarbon dated paintings
in the world, some as old as 32,400 and many are beautifully done,
often of lions, mammoths, and black hairy rhinos, with shading and
perspective. To my knowledge, I am the first non-archeologist allowed
to visit Chauvet, which will never be open to the public."
this will give us a chance at even more of a glimpse into the cave
Wolf discovered at the Zelandonii summer meeting in The Shelters
of Stone! And more importantly, into the 'real' world that existed
so very long ago when the cave walls were made to come alive.
the follow-up: "The trip to Chauvet was something. One has
to climb a mountain to get to the entrance of the cave, about a
40 minute rapid hike (the guides move like jackrabbits) up a crude
footpath. Chauvet is massively protected, not only with a code to
be punched in, but a plate that records the fingerprints of one
of the guide's hands. The two of us once inside were given helmets,
suits, and rubber shoes. We descended a small vertical ladder 40
feet into blackness.
cave has now been rigged with metal walkways to protect the floor
(which has many bear bones and skulls, one of which is completely
covered with a calcite cast, with a stalagmite "growing"
out the dome). There are 73 lions, by far the most anywhere, and
some are done with a verve and mastery that boggle the imagination.
They are as beautifully drawn as anything in Picasso, and are dated
between 30,000 and 32,000 years ago. There is also a venus figure,
with one leg and a large black vulva placed next to a hybrid male,
with a bison head. The venus makes use of the hybrid's leg as her
second leg. So here we have undoubtedly the first Minotaur!
you want to offer your readers any more information on Chauvet,
you can point them to: Chauvet
Cave: The Art of Earliest Times, University of Utah Press, 2003.
It has gorgeous and quite accurate photos. the cave will never be
open to the public, but I was told by Jean Marie Chauvet (who co-discovered
the cave and was one of our guides) that they plan to take in around
400 people this year, all on the basis of a private appointment."
more information about Clayton Eshleman, his work, and the 2004
Cave Tour, be sure and take a trip through his website: http://www.claytoneshleman.com/
the entry about him and his work at The
Academy of American Poets.