Stone – some common misconceptions

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19th May 2020

An essay on stone by Danny Hubbard, inspired by on form 18

Stone was not conceived by us, nor for us. Our full lives may be laid out in full, for comparison, and will be simply dwarfed by its longevity. We have not the time nor massive forces at our disposal for such magnificent manufacture.

Stone undergoes a kind of gestation. It is forged by a reaction of immense force, but the vital ingredient of time is what bestows wisdom upon – within – stone . This deepness we are quick to label as “density”, a measure of particles and volume. Yet here we can easily forget: stones contain time. Time from worlds ago and worlds ahead, which is not and will never be our own to live.

When we touch stone, we can almost sense that cool, patient stillness which is beyond our own understanding – our fleeting days and years. We must respect stone’s journey and the formidable vastness of its creation which dwarfs our own. Our aesthetic and scientific assessments of stone are infinitely more juvenile practices when placed next to the life of stone itself. It requires no such analysis from us.

Qualitatively, stone is often described with terms that imply impenetrability. This, however, is another oversight: whilst stone is indeed “dense” compared to other matter, stone was originally open and permeable, gradually hardening over years beyond our reckoning. When considered on such a time-scale, stone is a membrane, which miraculously morphs into smooth intensity under the weight of the ages.

Ages pass, and the stone breathes, though slower in its metabolism than we can understand. We must be careful not to alienate the living process of stone as a mineral resource which is ripe for our exploitation. Stone has metabolised the very earth; it is wholly biological in its origins and holds on: it takes in life, for a time. As stone erodes, it releases the life it took in once again, its corpuscular granules forming minerals, sands and soils.