Though the case of man is complicated, it seems evident that … a remarkable doorway opened when man, as a social animal, fell under selective forces that no longer severely channeled the nature of his mind or the minds of his aberrant offspring. Through language, this creature could communicate his dreams around the cave fires…The cruel and the gentle world sit at the same fireside, dreaming already in the Stone Age the different dreams they dream today.
The visionary was already awaiting the eternal city; the gifted musician sat hearing in his brain sounds that did not yet exist. All waited upon and yet possessed, in some dim way, the future in their heads. Abysmal darkness and great light lay invisibily about their camps. The phantom cities of the far future awaited latent talents for which, in that unspecialized time, there was no name.
Above all, some of them, a mere handful in any generation perhaps, loved – they loved the animals around them, the song of the wind, the soft voices of women. On the flat surfaces of cave walls the three dimensions of the outside world took animal shape and form. Here — not with the ax, not with the bow — man fumbled at the door of his true kingdom. Here, hidden in times of trouble behind silent brows, against the man with the flint, waited St. Francis of the birds — the lovers, the men who are still forced to walk warily among their kind.
Excerpted from Loren Eiseley, The Inner Galaxy
Image: Caravaggio, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata