Monday, December 08, 2008

If Not

It's a cold, very cold, snowy day, though it's not snowing now. Last night the wind blew yesterday's snow all over the place, making surf-like patterns on the gravel, in and out of the weeds, across the snow walks and frozen pond. In the studio, I like to give myself over to what the landscape provides, and watch what happens when the wind blows my thoughts around until they pile up around one idea or another, and from that, art gets made.

Language has always fascinated me too, the old idea that the universe was created from sound, or language. Which is why I was so taken when I first found rocks that had what appeared to be inscribed x's and l's. Hah, I thought, here's evidence that the world is created out of language. I know now the inscriptions are actually quartz inclusions in what's called "graphic granite," but still, it's a minor thrill even now to see those bright lines in the granite matrix. I have another rock, a jasper stone, that I use as a meditation object. Jasper stones are so named because they turn up at Jasper Beach in Downeast Maine. This stone is a sort of mottled yellow-brown with no inclusions, but as I stared at it one afternoon, I realized that I was being texted. The darker grains of the stone's surface organized themselves to spell out, in an elegant cursive script, the words "if not." If not what, I asked. If this is not the perfect zen question, then what is? And so my rock continues to ask me, or I ask myself, in response to whatever expectations I may have and whatever ideas the wind blows up in my brain, what if not?

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