Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Mayan Stone

"The stone was a building stone from Uxbantun, the Mayan pyramid city complex that sprawled all over these hills 1600 years ago."

  We are in a part of the world where internet is still an exotic intruder. That is both a comfort and a bane, depending on whether you wish to rest or blog.

We noticed, beside a rabbit cage, a squared stone that Chris put there for children and short people to get up to see or feed the rabbits. The stone was a building stone from Uxbantun, the Mayan pyramid city complex that sprawled all over these hills 1600 years ago.

None of the buildings here now are made from these stones, although they are abundant and protrude from the ground here and there, because they are antiquities and protected. A stool borrowed for children and rabbits seems a fair use.

This stone has an indentation on one side, under a layer of moss. The indentation is smooth, so one is inclined to attribute it to one or both of two agencies — people and water. Perhaps in a prior millennium it was a step up the side of a pyramid, or a steep hill, and the trodding of feet over centuries wore down this valley.

Or perhaps, left untended for many more centuries than it was used, it fell into a place where the heavy seasonal rains gathered a waterfall and pounded mercilessly on it until the falling water carved the valley.

This second explanation makes more sense because of two other clues. Just above the depression, leading to the far edge, the valley narrows into a rounded crevice about the breadth of a finger. That is not something feet would make, although rain could, despite the absence of any apparent flaw in the stone.

The other clue is the appearance of a second, lesser valley on the adjacent facet of the stone, as if, by some intervening act of nature, it had been rotated 90 degrees and then subjected to the same erosive force for centuries more.

The stone has memories. It displays to anyone who makes an inquiry such as ours the badges of its service to ancient Maya and timeless rains. It wears its moss like a bandage covering the mysterious wound. And when, 1600 years beyond this gasoline crack of history, there are no more hairless apes, it will still be slowly changing its shape, undoing the aesthetic strikes of its ancient artists.

The notion of collapse was likely unimagined by the stonecutters who carved this rock, whose tools were forged at the epicenter of rising empire. We, having watched this pattern repeat for 6000 years, can imagine it, but we can barely conceive what kind of world will be here 1600 years from now.


Danny C said...

The poetry of the stone cut something deep here. We, as where the stone cutters, are carving out our story. Maybe the step up into a temple should serve as sort of a pattern for us, perhaps, the hairless ones groping for a purpose far beyond the pursuit we've inherited as progress. Unlike the Mayans, we have history and the lessons learned from them and other "fallen" cultures to allow us the luxury and responsibility of foresight. And that foresight should obviate our damage to ourselves and our ecosystem. Is there really a division between these things?

Albert Bates said...

Jan Lundberg writes: "That's right, after what Western Civilization (alias Modern Society) has done and is bent on continuing to irrationally do, 1,600 more years of human society sounds irresponsibly optimistic. It is only the latest generation of screen-fed consumers that has had to abandon our prior assumption of virtually endless continuity as a species and society. In 1969 we expressed our concern for our direction in hit songs such as "In The Year 2525," but now that sounds like an impossible hopeful date for mere technological oppression."

sac.osage.hill.climber said...

excerpt from Ozymandias
. . . And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
--Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)




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