Monday, 25 August 2008

On Saturday I visited Rough Tor. Rough Tor is a remarkable place just on the edge of Bodmin Moor near to Camelford. It is a high tor and there are the most extraordinary nature sculptures on its peak: huge slabs of granite that have been chiselled by ice and wind over many centuries. The slabs are laid on top of each other in places, making it look as if Andy Goldsworthy has been there beavering away.

For me, Rough Tor is a stone kingdom. There are so many stones - balancing stones, tumbling stones, broken stones - that to be human in this place is to be in the minority. There are wild horses and cows and sheep and the wind tumbles around the place like a feverish duster - always sweeping things away, making them fresh, never letting anything settle for too long.

Whilst I was there I was particularly struck by the way in which stones rise up and out of the earth. At the same time I was pondering why so many people take stones as souvenirs - and then these two things become obviously connected. Souvenir means to rise from below - and I think that this is what stones do. Not only literally, but also metaphorically because they remind us of what can rise up from within us. The intuitive, instinctive parts of our own natures. That which we know without needing to be taught.

Stones takes us back to our primordial selves: they remind us of who we are, who we were from the moment we were born. And who we will be when we die. Perhaps even after we have died. Something so basic and so essential that for a moment we recognise the stone as a friend; a companion, someone who understands what is in our hearts without needing to speak of it.

At least, that's what I'm thinking today - do let me know if you agree or think differently......

Friday, 1 August 2008

There's all kinds of things afoot with the stone. In fact, it appears to be taking on a life of its own. If you go to the Arvon Foundation's newsletter you'll see the stone and how it's become part of a competition where people get to say where they'd like to take it and why - and the winner will receive a writer's and artist's yearbook.

Of course, I'm not suggesting that the stone set this opportunity up. It happened due to the enthousiasm of a man called Philip who works for Arvon. But nevertheless it goes to show that the stone and its migratory habits has the ability to excite people and to get them involved in some way.

This was also borne out last weekend. I attended the Resurgence Summer Camp as Satish Kumar had invited me to read poems there. Miraculously the sun shone all weekend and at times shade has to be sought for comfort. Again and again people were intrigued by the migrating stones project: for some reason it taps into something very deep in our psyches, this idea of stones moving around the world. I'm not quite sure why - so if you have any insights or ideas do let me know. But there's no getting away from the fact that something is sparked in us when we think of stones or pebbles - an old memory that we can't quite grasp, perhaps a feeling in our bones that we too will be stones one day and when we are we'd like to be treated well and taken care of.

Meanwhile the date for my trip to Australia draws ever nearer. Small butterflies have begun to spawn in my belly. It's a long way away and I hope I've done everything I need to do to ensure the stone gets there in one piece. I've started meeting more and more people who love Australia and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be rather blown away by the oldness of it. Who knows? I'll find out soon enough.