If the axis has been well and truly laid down in the quartet it should be possible to radiate in any direction without losing the strictness and congruity of the continuum.
— Lawrence Durrell, in Author’s Note to Clea (1960), the fourth volume of The Alexandria Quartet.
I often visit the Poltalloch carvings. But these days, I try to look at them in a new way, which may also be the rediscovery of a very old way. This rediscovery is the notion of ‘cultural landscape', related to the wider notion of 'Total Ecology'. It involves abandoning the anthropocentric perspective of the modern West, and returning to the vision of human beings who understood themselves and their imagination as components of the natural world.
… The context is not just the sheet of rock, but the landscape itself. … The fact that these places often had 'a long view' may be important. These were people who had a sense of themselves within a landscape, neither as owners nor as distant specks traversing a hostile space but as partners in this cosmos spread out around them.
— Neal Ascherson, Stone Voices: The Search for Scotland (2002), excerpt pp 217-219.
What happens to us
Is irrelevant to the world’s geology
But what happens to the world’s geology
Is not irrelevant to us.
We must reconcile ourselves to the stones,
Not the stones to us.
— Hugh MacDiarmid, from On a Raised Beach (1938), a poem from his years on the Shetland island of Whalsay
As we humans drift further into climatic upheavals and waves of extinctions in the coming decades, the thousands of rock art images marked over tens of thousands of years may act as lodestars, axes, quiet reminders of spiritual endeavor. And yearnings. This in the spirit of clarity of what we are about, partaking of this gift, our sojourn called life.
Album: Cup-and-Ring: Solstice/AXIS, Kilmartin, mid-Argyll, western Scotland. May 2019.
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