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Monday, 26 September 2011

Petrified Forest: Some Glyphs


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Petroglyph (mountain lion), Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 14 January 2011 (U.S. National Park Service)


My first experience of the Petrified Forest occurred at the age of four, in 1945, in the back seat of an automobile traveling though the large mysterious darkness of the Midwestern prairie night. The radio drama adapted from Robert Sherwood's 1936 stage play was airing on the Lux Radio Theatre, that night, with Ronald Coleman, Susan Hayward and Lawrence Tierney in the lead roles.

My earliest datable memories all come from this same period. There is the memory of the front page of the Chicago Tribune with a banner headline announcing VJ Day, 15 August 1945. The newspaper had been left upon a small table on the screened-in porch of a house in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. I was given to understand that this headline meant the war was over. And that this was to be regarded as good news.


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d3/ImperialSurrenderRescript.jpg

Imperial rescript from Japanese Emperor Hirohito ordering Japan's capitulation and end of War II; written 14 August and announced 15 August, 1945: image via U. S. Army Center of Military History


Beneath the headline was a cartoon depiction of a rising sun, setting.



Petroglyph, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 14 January 2011 (U.S. National Park Service)


I think it was around the same time that, curled up in the back seat of my parents' car, I "saw" the Petrified Forest. I had no idea what a petrified forest was. Indeed, as a small unknowing child, the very words terrified me.

The customers of a diner at a remote location in the Arizona desert are taken hostage by a dangerous gangster in flight from the law. The American night bristles with tension and menace. Apart from the sound of the radio broadcast, there is silence in the car. The small boy huddled under a blanket in the back seat is supposed to be sleeping. He is not. The night is a great invisible looming forest. Written upon it in vague watery letters is a story he is not meant to be reading. Captive in it, he is petrified.


File:Title from The Petrified Forest film trailer.jpg

Trailer for the film The Petrified Forest (1936): cropped screnshot of main title by Rossrs, 8 June 2007


Six years later, in another car, I rode across the actual Petrified Forest. This time it was not a noirish terror zone of shadows and looming dark clumps of infoliated threat. It had colours, bright sedimentary bands of ochres, ambers, burnt siennas, pinks, bloody reds, blending together across the distancing highway vista into a uniform harsh dried-orange-peel shade, bleached-out by the hard blows of an all-but-blinding desert light. Beyond the visible landscape, within it, and all around it, there was only that brutal midsummer Petrified Forest light.

Written upon it there was nothing.

Except its own indecipherable history, from the ghost-haunted unknown epochs preceding the white Imperial wars.



File:The PEFO Tepees.jpg

The Tepees, Petrified Forest National Park, northeastern Arizona
: photo by Finetooth, 4 October 2010

File:Painted Desert badlands Tawa Point.jpg

Painted Desert badlands as seen from Tawa Point in Petrified Forest National Park, northeastern Arizona: photo by Finetooth, 27 September 2010


File:Lith side wash petroglyphs 1.jpg

Petroglyphs in Petrified Forest National Park, northeastern Arizona: photo by Finetooth, 8 October 2010


File:Tiponi Point at sunset.jpg

Painted Desert badlands as seen from Tiponi Point in Petrified Forest National Park, northeastern Arizona: photo by Finetooth, 26 September 2010




Petrified logs,
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 15 January 2008 (U.S. National Park Service)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/91/Cutpetrifedwood_laban.jpg

Cut and polished petrified log, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: photo by Laban712, 12 July 2007



Petroglyphs, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 23 August 2011
(U.S. National Park Service)



Petroglyphs, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 23 May 2005
(U.S. National Park Service)



Petroglyphs, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 23 May 2005
(U.S. National Park Service)

Hatch5, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 18 June 2009 (U.S. National Park Service)



Breaks2, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 26 August 2011 (U.S. National Park Service)



Rim Trail, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
: photo by Petrified Forest Ranger, 1 May 2006
(U.S. National Park Service)

10 comments:

Ed Baker said...

beyond the visible landscape.
within it,

what else we got that has been
written on/in Stone ?
neat photos
as everything beyond
these landscapes:

clear !

gamefaced said...

my 9 yr old son and i were walking the other day and he said, i figured it out - we are the aliens. we were never supposed to be here..

i'm not sure what that has to do with this but, the permanence of some and the clinging of others i dunno just, seemed related.

TC said...

It is clear.

We are the aliens.

TC said...

(It was all just a navigational error.)

Julia said...

These landscapes took my breath away. To consider the people who lived there and made all these beautiful things, also did it

Ed Baker said...

Julis,

a thot:

today "they'd" call these images scratched into the stone
graffiti


& paint over them or worse wash them away via pressure-blasting

then demand that everyboddhi pray /communicate (commune?)the same way

me-thinks that these images done as a great bsign of respect towards/to location as where these people resided..

in or on Mother Earth their Home

and
as we do today we hang pictures of 'things' that are
meaningful to us personally &/or collectively

sure is simple .. pre-Freud, eh?
neat book among many:
Habitations of the Great Goddess


et ceteras

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

"depiction of a rising sun, setting."

"bright sedimentary bands of ochres, ambers, burnt siennas, pinks, bloody reds"

"its own indecipherable history"

9.27

pink orange of cloud in pale blue white
sky above ridge, shadowed bird on fence
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

inaccessible, is said about
it which is called it

as looking back at “looking
back, opposite, this

silver of sunlight reflected in channel,
sunlit ridge against cloudless blue sky

TC said...

Julia, Ed, Stephen, many thanks.


"...these images done as a great sign of respect towards/to location as where these people resided..

in or on Mother Earth their Home

and
as we do today we hang pictures of 'things' that are
meaningful to us personally &/or collectively..."

That seems to be the story with the petroglyphs, made by the Pueblo people who once inhabited these lands.

Dating the petroglyphs has proven a formidable task.

They seem to have been inscribed at some time between 2000 and 650 years ago.

That's a pretty large window.

In other words, a great Mystery.

abadguide said...

photo by Petrified Forest Ranger

He takes a damned good picture.

Artur.

TC said...

Especially for someone who is petrified.