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The Stone Horse Commentary Essay

It is obvious that Lopez has a passion for history, especially when it comes to the cultural aspects in history. Having said this, it’s no surprise that when cultural history is being destroyed, Lopez is writing to bring awareness to the problems faced by unguarded cultural artifacts in the Mojave, and Sonoran deserts. The reading itself was dry when it came to the parts about the Stone Horse because Lopez kept describing the horse over and over. As the introduction told me, he wanted to pose the question of if we are free to determine the meaning of the stone horse or of any object from another time and place.

Personally, the answer to his question is quite simple. Cultural artifacts are considered art, and all art is up to interpretation. Lopez himself describes the possibilities of how the sculptors of the horse could have first seen horses, and how nearly each part of the body was sculpted perfectly to scale. Lopez spent hours just watching the shadow of the horse move, looking at its specific detail and finally came to the conclusion that it was an individual horse, not just one representation of the horse.

Going back to the idea of Lopez’s, that the cultural artifacts are being destroyed. He states that according to the Bureau of Land Management, approximately 35% of all archaeological sites are vandalized in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. This is due to the fact that the significance and importance of the archaeological finds haven’t been understood until modern times. The United States military used the land for military testing of tanks and weapons, destroying some sites. Although it may seem harsh, I feel that he over estimates the importance of the desert finds, and that they are not as important as he would have us believe. Although the finds are of some cultural importance, it doesn’t matter too much.

Lopez himself seems out of it. He talks about a heightening of the senses from first catching sight of the stone horse. He compared the sensation to coming upon the warm remains of a grizzly bear kill, or the still moist tracks of a wolverine. I feel that if I were to cone upon a giant stone horse in the middle of a desert, than I would have assumed that I was hallucinating… and then my ten year old instincts would kick in, and I would try climbing it.

Overall, the reading of The Stone Horse was a bit dry, like the deserts it described. I couldn’t find many ways to connect to Lopez’s experiences except maybe to put myself in his shoes. The main purpose of him to write this was to gain awareness and respect back for these artifacts that are being neglected in the desert. And again, to his question of who can interpret the archaeological finds, it’s all art and art is all up for free interpretation.

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