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Yesterday as today forests do not allow a transparency. Rather, they stand as a wall of wood and leaves, today as possibly also then, around the area where the rock colossuses and stone dwarves keep their secret. The border of a wood, densely planted with trunks and undergrowth, forms clear and unmistakable boundaries.
The above observation could lead to the explanation that the builders of the famous stone tiles in the late prehistoric period were not interested in surrounding their work with forest. For such fenced-in pasturework of endless, disordered rows of trees and wild bushes would have reminded the place too much of the closedness, of being enclosed by graves that stand for death and its complete opacity.
However, the stone-lined paths across the Carnac plain, which plunge for a moment into the slender valley of Kerloquet, resemble avenues of trees that traditionally line many streets in France today, whether as aesthetic arrangements copied from the garden architecture of magnificent, playful, royal parks, or as wind breakers.
The scoffers can already itch up from their chairs again, the moment they read these lines and wisely remark: Carnac was an example for the gardens of Versailles. Or the other way around: the Garden of Versailles, with its rows of trees and water features hurrying past, set the example for the ruler of Carnac, who prevails over the fate of the clans in Brittany six thousand years before the French kings – so much again in this tract about the mockers. Let us wisely ignore their remark.
At a crossroads, the seeker encounters someone else, who is a stranger.
The gardens of Versailles were nevertheless wisely and unbiasedly used for the purposes of this treatise. The extensive pleasure grounds of the Sun King contain a garden labyrinth designed in a perfect form. Between the trees and high bushes, the confusing and at the same time amusing game of hide-and-seek can be played wonderfully. Those involved in the casual activity hurry through the various rows of trees and past fountains. At a crossroads, the seeker encounters the person he is looking for or, quite surprisingly, someone else, who is a stranger and who is also playing in the hedges as high as a single-family house with comrades the game of „Flit and snatch me“ (so called in modern time: “Shoo and Hash me”).
The strangers face immediately triggers great emotional worry and brief disturbance, fear of lost love happiness, which wanders and rushes through the hedges-avenues elsewhere, green walls that do not allow an overview. Such vintage tree labyrinths unsettle.
Completely differently Carnac. Carnac, as it presents itself today and presumably still corresponds in broad outlines exactly to the picture that it has always offered for six thousand years, grants extraordinary views. Carnac’s lines do not serve to create confusion, but clarity. And yet it is still possible to play hide and seek between the many blocks of stone. Children can enjoy both the Versailles and Carnac courses.
The many large and small stones offer excellent hiding and climbing opportunities. Children are not afraid of contact with the stones. The Alignements develop their own effect on boys and girls. What was this effect? With astonished children’s eyes the toddlers and kids will have looked at what stood up there. They will have felt the new place less as a memorable affair, but rather as a new, welcome, beautiful playground.
Children approach the miracle of Carnac with a completely different perspective than adults, as well as those adolescents who, feeling a new, at first strange, growing warmth in their own body, which kindled unfamiliar forces, drifted around between the groups of stones at puberty.
For young adults, the meandering paths may have caused similar confusion and feelings as the winding paths in the gardens of Versailles.
For young people who are suddenly passionately interested in the gender of the other, the field of menhirs will have opened up very different ways to pass the time. For young adults, the meandering paths between the menhirs may have caused similar confusion and feelings as the winding paths in the gardens of Versailles did for those who romped around.
Anyone who enters the Alignements, even today, is unsettled for a moment; not because they feel they are in a labyrinth. He is disorientated for the moment because the lines he sees, while stretching out in an almost infinite and straight line, are at the same time sheering off to the sides at a sharp right angle. But this unsuspecting dynamic is broken by another. The viewer discovers a pattern consisting of diagonals.
The varying sizes of the old structures encourage to take a closer look.
If the astonished standing person, that is us, maneuvers gently past the towering stones without scraping the skin on them, so that he is distracted, with every step a new insight open up to him in varying perspectives, that are given by the different rock structures. The varying sizes of the old structures alone, which form the straight struts of the gigantic complex, encourage him to take a closer look. If you do not only look straight ahead into the marked out paths, but if you also take a look at the numerous cross-connections and come across these surprising diagonals, then, over time, new thoughts of your own spring up in your head. One is amazed and asks oneself: How are the connections related? What do these connections represent?
What becomes visible, geometrically and metaphysically speaking, is a curious multi-dimensionality. The Alignements not only represent straight and transverse lines, but also, due to the changing peak of the numerous stones, a shrinking and growing of the angular silhouettes belonging to different rows. Thus, in this peculiar stone monument, which attracts so many people to this prehistorical essential edge of the edgeless ocean, one finds the long horizontal and the vertical, albeit short, but clearly drawn through the menhirs into the wide landscape.
If one looks at the huge accumulation of menhirs under this fresh narrative impulse, then it becomes obvious to the pensive observer that a multi-layered play of thoughts, or better: a complex play of sprouting thoughts is at the beginning of a development.
The fur-armored Stone Age people did not yet know about the grinding whetstone.
As emphasized several times in this treatise: We see the finished product in Carnac today and stand in silent astonishment before this gigantic work. At the same time, we presume to confront it with other gigantic buildings such as the Egyptian pyramids and to compare Carnac with the others historically significant sites, which were not built decades or centuries, but thousands of years later. The development of architecture and construction technology in Pharaoh-ruled Egypt was therefore many times more mature than in northern Europe.
The fur-armored Stone Age people who populated the area of Carnac did not yet know about the grinding whetstone that polished the stone blocks of the temples on the Nile.
The Stone Age people of Carnac built their monumental work with the little constructional knowledge they had, and probably also with knowledge that they had to work hard to acquire due to unsuccessful attempts and failed execution. What do we know today about how Carnac was built?
Carnac was a milestone in the social and technical development of mankind.
We people of today who communicate with smartphones and who have their car pulled out again by a towing device after they have driven it into a ditch, or a vehicle that crashed into a wall, have it removed by a tow truck, must keep clear in our minds: Those people were at the beginning of a revolutionary development in which guided thinking moved away from the visually pictorial towards an intellectual contemplation of the world to be explored.
With his construction of Carnac, mankind placed nothing less than the foundation stone for a consciously reflected development that made today’s standard of technology possible at all. Carnac was a milestone in the social and technical development of mankind.
The planners of Carnac could not rely on algebra or geometry in their work. Such sciences first had to be developed and structured. The ingenious developers of the successful strategy for completing the large and long stone monument could not look back on an existing tradition of gigantic buildings. The builders of the very heavy handrails from stone had to find their way across the Carnac plain themselves.
And most impressive of all it must have had for the wooden lance-armed natives that they could not see the end.
The erection of the first stones probably had a very impressive effect on the natives who lived there. And it will have been even more impressive for them, when the first menhirs were followed by countless others; their number, which had become unmanageable over time, finally reached such a gigantic scale that everything that was previously known was dwarfed. And most impressive of all, when the wooden lance-armed natives with their linen-clad women and screaming children stood before the finished miracle, it must have had such an impact on them that they could not even see its end.
Lifting, transporting and raising the larger chunks required a well-coordinated muscular potential.
Workers, leaders and measurers saw the field of stones grow. At what point were the men and women themselves surprised by the unimaginable expanse that their building had taken on; by the evocative stone arrangement that they themselves had built?
At that moment something went into the minds of the creatures from the seashore. A spark that ignited the intellect. What the inhabitants of the Atlantic shore built at the height of Locmariaquer represented far more than a dolmen, a tumulus or a cairn. To pile it up was, above all, a laborious task and a feat of strength based on raw muscle work. Many smaller stones had to be collected and piled up. Lifting, transporting and raising the larger chunks required a strong, well-coordinated muscular potential.
Was it the growing pride at the sight of the completed rows of stones that the people felt at that time and moved them to push the plant further? Was it the desire to expand one’s own horizons beyond the first stone phalanxes by adding more lines, to increase the experience? To see more than the first stone rows made possible?
It is also wonderful for posterity that the creative power did not slack and did not fail in the enormous task set. With the erection of more than two thousand menhirs, the creators of this peculiar monument on the seashore will have reached their goal, which they had conceived and set for themselves, at a certain time.
The founders of Carnac’s ranks will probably have been amazed by the impressive result of their trusting daring; like a child who sets a goal for himself in the sandpit, builds a sandbank and then, hands full of sand, kneels perplexed before the result, unconsciously remembering that it was he himself who gave form to this structure.
This is probably how the population of fishermen, hunters, basket weavers, shepherds and gatherers must have felt when they walked through the finished stone curtains. They must have often stopped when they looked into the stone strips.
When will they grow up the idea, that they could transfer the diagonals, that they made out in the menhir field, to the construction of the facility itself and therefore turn it slightly to the north at a suitable place or at a suitable time, so that the lines, which until now have been straight, were clearly diverted? Did the planners of that time already think in diagonal lines?
Next: The bend
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