Saturday, June 26, 2004

I recently spent a week in Colorado's canyonlands. I found a space on the slickrock above where I was camping, a desert garden of sorts. An indentation where sand and dirt and loose rock had accumulated, with a crust of crypto-biotic. Sitting on a large rock, a bench of sorts, from which I can observe the garden.

On the left focus, a juniper; a pinyon pine at the other focus. Some scrubby bush and tufts of grass here and there, some bearing small flowers. The pinyon pine has some hard, dead? roots wandering off. Two largish boulders flank the pine.

I think, this has the discplined feel of a Japanese garden. Well not knowing two turds about Japanese gardens, still, that's what came to mind, so there. But no hand of woman or man directed this space. Instead, a random arrangement achieved by gravity and solar rays and chemical reactions and biological interactions. Processes layered upon processes, a density and complexity that seems without boundaries. And out of it all, a lovely rock garden.

On the surface a simple bounded space of definitely arranged biotics on a rock in a canyon in western North America, planet Earth. But start tugging at the knit of connections, and the whole amazing web of it is revealed.

2 comments:

James said...
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James said...

"Arrangements of rough natural stones also play a considerable part in the highly civilized rock garden of Zen Buddhism. Their arrangement is not geometrical but seems to have come about by pure chance. In fact, however, it is the expression of a most refined spirituality." (Aniela Jaffe, "Symbolism in the Visual Arts" in Man and His Symbols (1964)