Spelunking With Werner

by Zoe Pollock

 Deron Bauman eagerly awaits Werner Herzog's new 3D film, and rereads Judith Thurman's 2008 New Yorker essay:

The question of who “they” were speaks to a mystery that thinking people of every epoch and place have tried to fathom: who are we? In the century since the modern study of caves began, specialists from at least half a dozen disciplinesarcheology, ethnology, ethology, genetics, anthropology, and art historyhave tried (and competed) to understand the culture that produced them. The experts tend to fall into two camps: those who can’t resist advancing a theory about the art, and those who believe that there isn’t, and never will be, enough evidence to support one. ... Yet no one who studies the caves seems able to resist a yearning for communion with the artists. When you consider that their legacy may have been found by chance, but surely wasn’t left by chance, it, too, suggests a yearning for communionwith us, their descendants.