Customer Review

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent images, rubbish text, 19 Sep 2013
This review is from: Ice Age art: arrival of the modern mind (Hardcover)
The value of this exhibition catalogue lies solely in the excellent images, some of them of old favorites but many of artifacts relatively recently discovered and/or poorly represented outside of the specialist literature. Alas, the text is written in bloated cataloguese and reeks of academic feminism throughout. The author is at pains to nail earlier authors for being creatures of their times but is hoist on her own petard when she applies concepts such as "performance art" to ice age kiln artifacts without the slightest scrap of evidence. In fact, the entire thesis lying behind this book, that ice age art reflects the "modern mind" (whatever that is) is without merit. Aside from the descriptions of the objects, the entire text is pure speculation informed by ideological prejudice. The author has talked to a neurobiologist or two and makes elementary school-level references to "specialised nerve cells called neurons" and the prefrontal cortex. She throws in some early 20th century art the creators of which are documented as having drawn their inspiration from the very objects she is comparing in order to establish the early existence of the "modern mind". You know, even today, kids pick up bits of bone, think "that looks like a duck" and proceed to use a pocket knife to make it look more like a duck and then hang it round their necks. The origin of a lot of ice age art isn't any more complex than that.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Nov 2013 21:56:48 GMT
Ursula says:
Brilliant analysis of catalogues

Posted on 29 Nov 2013 17:41:33 GMT
H. A. Weedon says:
'academic feminism'. What is that supposed to mean? Is the term an attempt to coin a category directly opposed to 'male chauvinist pigism'? Maybe we all need to realise that all males, like myself, have spent up to nine months of their lives inside the wombs of women. Those of us who know anything about pigs, including wild ones, are well aware that boars are among the least chauvinistic of animals and that sows are highly respected. I'm sure that no self-respecting boar would ever accuse a sow of 'academic sowism.' So, where does that leave a human male in relation to a pig?

Oh yes, and thank you greatly, learned K Benson. for putting us all right. Ever since I was a child I've always believed that ice age art 'reflects the common mind'. On first seeing the cave painters, Picasso is recorded as having said: 'We have learned nothing.' So, he's wrong as well. We are indebted to you, Mr Benson.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Dec 2013 23:00:16 GMT
rwm says:
You say "I'm sure that no self-respecting boar would ever accuse a sow of 'academic sowism.'" I think you're right. But since sows are feminine already the switch was unrequited, and since there are neither speaking nor academic pigs of either sex known to us your argument may remain safe to academic scrutiny. The rest of it is quite silly though.
Feminism is definitely an academic movement, infact you can do courses in it, and merely suggesting that it is an inappropriate lens to usefully view ancient artefacts through does not make one a chauvinist. What that's got to do with 9 months in a womb I have no idea, but I am very thankful to my mother and appreciate I would not have been able to write this without her.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Dec 2013 09:14:32 GMT
H. A. Weedon says:
Many thanks, rwm. Your remarks are much appreciated. The point is, I fail to see how any fair minded person can accuse Jill Cook of adopting anything like a feminist stance in her excellent book. Sadly, all too often, archaeology and history have been, and sadly sometimes still are, viewed through the lens of male chauvinistic attitudes. Since this is so, one can hardly blame women for turning the tables on such unbalanced viewpoints. For myself, all I can say is that our knowledge of the universe strongly suggests that it exists in the state of something resembling a vast, self-regenerating womb, which is suggestive of some kind of great mother rather than a 'daddy in the shy' or sky father. The change over from Great Mother to Sky Father in religious beliefs can be clearly traced. Amongst birds, with notable exceptions such as the chicken/pheasant family, the rearing of young is very much a fifty-fifty male/female business, whereas with most mammals it's all left to the mother. Notable exceptions are the wolf-fox family, bonobo chimps and humans. Pigs also tend towards such attitudes. In groups of animals such as an elephant herd or lion pride, the group is always led by an alpha-female often assisted by beta and gamma females. With mammals it's natural for the female to be in charge and play the lead role. Because males have to fight to gain sexual favours they are never in the best position to become good leaders in the way that females are. Hence the plethora of wars since men took over leadership from women at the dawn of the Heroic Age. The different between Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel is that, whilst the former behaved like a man in skirts, the latter acts herself as a woman in trousers. By the way, trousers were originally invented in China as a female garment.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2014 06:52:51 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 18 Jan 2014 07:05:46 GMT]
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