VENUS OF HOHLE FELS

Big find in the world of old artifacts: a female figurine was unearthed (New York Times), and its age was estimated at 35,000+ years. Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm in the Swabian Jurain Germany. It’s a fantastic find.

But, then came the finder’s modest speculation, and, next came projection. The key word for the latter was: pornographic. This following from the quote of one of the finders,

“It’s very sexually charged,” said University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard, whose team discovered the figure in September.

Later, an expert commentator remarked,

If there’s one conclusion you want to draw from this, it’s that an obsession with sex goes back at least 35,000 years,” University of Cambridge anthropologist Paul Mellars told LiveScience. He was not involved in the new finding. “But if humans hadn’t been largely obsessed with sex they wouldn’t have survived for the first 2 million years. None of this is at all surprising. The figure is explicitly — and blatantly — that of a woman, with an exaggeration of sexual characteristics (large, projecting breasts, a greatly enlarged and explicit vulva, and bloated belly and thighs) that by twenty-first-century standards could be seen as bordering on the pornographic.”

Then the Huffington Post headlined the story this way:

Venus of Hohle Fels: PREHISTORIC PORN

And so it goes, as Mr. Mellars’s odd sense of ‘the pornographic’ gets driven as a meme through all the media channels.

Also, of interest to me, is the difficult problem inherent in offering speculative yet informed descriptions of paleolithic life using modern categories. Those categories are abstractions with respect to what might be called ‘proto-categorality.’ Even to use ‘obsess’ may reach in too over-determined a way toward whatever were the affectual energetics–subject to being named–of paleolithic life.

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