Sunday, March 29, 2020

Our stone system

The earth is really just another rock in the wall, suspended like the other planets, within a system held together by gravity. It’s a system, like a dry laid one, where the right amount of space is needed everywhere to make the thing work. If the stones are too close the system collapses into itself, and ceases to be, like a black hole. If the stones are too far apart, the thing falls apart.

We are reminded that there is no Planet B, and, in the bigger picture, there really is no ‘System B’ that doesn’t use gravity . We are held together in this wall of space and time, and to imagine we can find a substitute way of gluing or welding or compacting the whole thing together is to embark on a planetary error.

It is not a closed system however. The openings and cracks in the wall (troublesome as they are) are there to let the light in. The sun is the biggest ‘opening’. It’s luminosity allows us to behold, and be held in, the planetary pattern of things. All the planets allow for reflection too. They’re all part of the system.

There is always a ‘pattern’ in every good system, as there is in every good wall. But there can be many different patterns possible - Pattern B, and C or D and so on. The pattern depends on the type of rock and the shapes they come in. There may be no ‘perfect’ rocks, or rock shapes  (or planets, for that matter)  but there will always be many perfectly good choices.

Our planet fits nicely into the system, right where it is. It holds up its part. It doesn’t take up too much space and it doesn’t block the light.
It’s a good system. 
It’s a good pattern of choices

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Precious Points of Contact

Ultimately, a stone stays ‘balanced’ because it makes contact, not with one, but at least three unique points with the stone below.
These are often infinitesimal 'points' of contact, too small to see, but nevertheless, real. They form a kind of tiny tripod. If there were only two points of contact, the stone on top would fall away.

The dynamic of the tripod configuration creates a magical thing called balance.

Eventually, after an imposed time of being separated from each other, and undergoing a regime of isolation, we too, as a species (if we are not to fall completely off the planet) will need to establish contact again. 
I’m not even sure it’s right to say ‘again’. There’s no indication humans in the past found the kind of balance we are all going to need after what looks like a long period of separation . 

But I suggest there are at least three ‘touch points’ we will need to find when we come out of isolation.
Hopefully when we emerge from our exile there will be a yearning for a totally new kind of social contact.
And we’ll all be willing to create something more dynamic than the artificial glues, toxic cements and manufactured fasteners that we were content to use before. Three important points of contact of this new ‘balanced’ contact, will be emotional, physical, but more especially, metaphysical.

We, like lonely boulders will find ourselves in families.
The discarded piles of stones will come together and discover order and purpose.
The precious shaped buried stones will be unearthed and cherished.
We, like well-placed stones in a garden wall, will no longer be sporadically dotted around indiscriminately.
There will be a pattern of touching, totally different from the self-centred configurations of ‘pointlessness’ we have for too long pretended to be ‘balanced’ in the past.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Discovering the other half of it.

I'd always puzzled in the past  about having to do a presentation (showing what can be done with stone) if ever the projector lamp burned out, or my laptop battery died. 

I imagined me trying to describe wildly with my hands the span of dry stone bridges I'd built, stretching my arms to show what my stone balances looked like , the shapes of benches and follies I'd built, endeavouring through it all to get across the magic of what could be done using stone alone . No mortar . No glue . No concrete . It would be impossible 

The whole thing would be pretty silly without the visual of modern technology .

Giving that extemporized unprojected non-pixel talk in that Sunday in Ireland, I discovered however that the universe will catch you, and allow experiences and visuals that make even the most well-prepared PowerPoint presentations pale in comparison.

Towards the end of that miracle morning talk, the stone(s) that I'd found on the  beach earlier, became one last solution/demonstration  piece of the puzzle.

I'd found the smaller half stone ( in the upper photo) on a 1/2 mile of shoreline covered in millions of grapefruit sized stones pummelled by the Atlantic Ocean . I thought to myself what are the chances of finding the other half of this stone on this beach? 

I looked around and circled the area where I'd found it searching intently.  It seemed like a silly impossible exercise in improbability. But then i saw it! Lying there surrounded by a myriad of similar sized miss-matched stones was the very mate to the half I had in my hand. 

I walked to the building where I was to give the talk bravely anticipating the whole thing might now somehow magically  'come together' the same way!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Stones and the pattern of light.

That morning a lady came to the front with a different kind of stone. Not one from the island. It was one she wore as a pendant.
A clear amber colour. Was it a quartz or semi previous stone  I'm not sure.

She told us how important the stone was to her , a source of help in ways she wasn't quite able to convey, or me perhaps, I was unable to take in, except to realize it did seem like she had a hidden power in her hands.

She handed it to me and I tried to balance it on the delicate stack of stones I had started on the table.

Happily it balanced for me   
And at the same exact moment a single tiny beam of light from the sun set the crystal ablaze with colour.

The curtains had been drawn to enable projected pics (taken some time ago) to be viewed , and yet were prevented from being shown, because of the computer adaptor problem. This arrangement however had created enough darkness in the room to help focus our attention onto the lit up 'nowness ' of the thing that had just then been balanced . 

Those of us who were there will remember the feeling.
Maybe it didn't make sense .
There still isn't an obvious meaning or purpose to the lighting of the stones, except their being there, the pattern they're supposed to be.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Enchanted Morning

Back in 2017 having been invited to Ireland to speak at the annual FĂ©ile-na-gCloch dry stone festival, on the island of Inisoirr, the universe had already arranged it that I would forget to bring my power adaptor for my laptop, thus leaving me with no way to show my photos of what I cleverly had planned to talk about that Sunday morning, September 17.
Little did I know how momentous an occasion it was going to be. After I stopped scrambling to find someone, somewhere, on the island with the electronic solution I so desperately thought I needed, I realized I just 'needed' to start to trusting the universe.
The island may not have had any laptop adaptors lying around anywhere on the beach for me to be able to show photos of stone walls, but it did have plenty of stones. 
And so it was, I came up with a plan, and requested before hand, that people coming to hear my talk, each bring a stone with them, and be prepared to have me talk about each one, and hopefully, together, laying each one on the table I was presenting from, make something with them.
As each person in the audience came to front with their 'special' stone, it started to become apparent that something very magical was taking place. It was confirmed, after hearing so many people afterwards, that the resulting talk was a little short of a miracle.
The first person to come up to the front was my friend Eddy Farrelly, an accomplished dry stone waller and lime mortar expert. He began telling me about why he chose his particular stone.
As he explained that his stone had been 'talking' to him, and that it told him it 'wanted' to be in a wall, I explained to the audience that I had been thinking things weren't going to get so spooky, so early in the talk. 
In the photo above, which I saw later, I see the lamp from the projector, (that was unable to show photos from my dead laptop) is by contrast,  dramatically illuminating his talking stone in a strange iridescent blue, which in retrospect, really was quite fitting. The magic had already began to happen. 
To be continued. . .

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Monday, March 2, 2020

Mica Schist Fish

How’s this for a dry stone concept to be built by a river or a lake for people to lean on and kids to climb over and have their ‘catch of the day’ pictures taken?