No Background, No Frame

“Poetic thinking, being mythical, does not distinguish or create antithesis: it goes on and on, linking analogy to analogy, identity to identity, and containing, without trying to refute, all oppositions and objections. This means, not that it is merely facile or liquid thinking without form, but that it is the dialectic of love: it treats whatever it encounters as another form of itself.”

I read this quote early in the morning in the introduction to Clayton Eshleman’s Juniper Fuse, a prose/poetry/drawing/photograph/research-laden hybrid book about cave paintings. The quote above is by Northrop Frye and is his definition of the “revolutionary Romantic imagination.” Eshleman includes the quote to talk about the “no ascendant/descendant duality” present in the “no background, no frame” images on the caves’ walls. Layered images, palimpsests made by humans and cave bears, each connected to the other over millennia, tied together by love as they are expressions of the inherent being (and co-being?) of the makers. Later in the day I found myself in the cavernous Chicago Ave. stop of the Red Line and saw this before me:

Subway Cave image by Kate Ingold 2011

“…no background, no frame…”

A few months ago I read Lawrence Weschler’s Everything That Rises, a Book of Convergences. Here was one of many convergences, the art of the cave in the 21st century, a visual cue recognizable perhaps because of our generations of learning how to read (and create!) cave images.

August 9, 2011