Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The writing is on the wall

In their once-upon-a-time-span way, stone recreate, over and over again, their own unique stories. That this seemingly prosaic material can be arranged into such cursive structural shapes as dry stone walls, evokes in many of us a kind of storybook cognizance. There never seems to be an end to what you can say about dry stone walls, and more importantly there is even more that they can say to us.

They are like good stories are built with virtually endless amounts of time and imagination. Stones make walls the way words make sentences.

Writing, like walling, is a sorting process , describing something whole in a series of seemingly unrelated, or previously overlooked 'thought-shapes'. The builders and the writers leaving no stone unturned. Every shape, every fragment is ultimately useful. If there is anything to be discarded in the creative process it is our common preconceptions. If there is anything to be discerned, it is that stones like words are useful because every one is unique. And yet like words they are able to fit together, and lose their uniqueness, to become lost in a greater whole.

Shakespeare told us there are ‘sermons in stones’, and consequently there must be a certain ‘weightiness’ to whole walls of stone. Even the spaces between the stones, are places we can read ‘between the lines’. The message contained in, these ‘courses’ of well fitted stones, comes to us almost naturally. The instruction is 'structural' 

The writing is ‘on’ and ‘in’ the wall.

The writings permeate like feelers from a spreading vine, softening the harsh facts of our complicated existence. Originally livestock walls, safely hedged in on all sides, it is our thoughts that are contained and nurtured now. We are protected not only from meaninglessness, but from the extremes of pragmatism and the futility of randomness.

A wall ‘needs’ to be built in the same way we ‘need’ to build it. 
It is part of their life story, and ours too.  A living author needs to build upon those who have gone before. A composer needs to find music in the arrangements of notes that have been used over and over again. It is a necessity for living beings to keep arranging the natural building blocks of life into meaningful shapes and structures that they can relate to. A waller goes to great lengths compiling and righting stones into meaningful arrangements. There is great significance and purpose in the work we wallers have been called to do. And it is to wall extensive purposes, that the stones call us. 


  1. John,
    I agree. Walling and writing although physical and sedentary are strangely similar.

  2. And every waller has a unique signature in their style and speaks through his or her wall differently too.

  3. A garden and a gardener can speak volumes about form and function, about poetry and perfection, divide themselves or grow together, reproduce the same signature like appearance but change the spelling, Fine tune the pairing of plants like pairing of people, or orchestrating a show of floral or foliar timeliness as the season dawns in spring and closes another chapter in the fall.
    It's more than just the 'gardening bug'. It's a relationship with nature that we hope to
    indulge the viewer like a story being told.
    And somedays it just makes scents.

    S. Lippay

  4. LOVE the video.
    Best use of 15 seconds I've seen a quite a while!