A brief history of becoming rock
In every part of every living thing there is stuff that once was rock.
the minerals of the rock.
– Lorine Niedecker, Lake Superior
Blithely West was a painter who claimed to paint rock. He claimed to paint rock and yet never came near so much as a pebble in the process. Convinced of his superior cerebration, Blithely employed a particular technique to achieve superlative representation of rock: painting rock in complete absence of rock.
His monumental studio was emptied out of anything remotely resembling rock; dust; earth; grains of sand; in turn meticulously removed. He then sat himself at his desk, and thought about rock. Not rock as the mountain or the earth, or a found object gently fingered in coat pockets. But the essence of rock, the what is rock.
He’d think and think until his head became a lump of coal, or slate, or crumbly limestone. And with this heavy head he’d slump over an empty sketchbook and rub his brow across the paper, exclaiming stony sounds. Sediment left shadowy traces. The pages tore and creased. For months on end he’d rock back and forth his hefty head until each sketch had turned to scree, amassed in silent growing mounds.
A landslide marked Blithely’s timely death. This was the preparatory phase.