rock sounds

Recordings from rock against body

Goldfields legacies

In ‘Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World’, Marcia Bjornerud states -in relation to large-scale mining processes- “Understanding the lingering effects of sudden topographic change is important because we ourselves are now agents of geomorphic catastrophe.” The effects of mining, which involves the massive derangement of topographies and natural systems will be “wide ranging and long lasting,” she says. “Worldwide, humans now move more rock and sediment, both intentionally through activities like mining, and unintentionally by accelerating erosion through agriculture and urbanization, than all of Earth’s rivers combined. It can no longer be assumed that geographic features reflect the work of geologic processes.” (p 90)

I (Jessie) live in the Central Victorian goldfields region- on Dja Dja Wurrung country- where the landscape has been turned over by thousands of hands, picks and shovels, buckets of blood and booze, violence and poverty- it has been made anew by a rabid search for gold. It is hard to imagine this land un-scarred by the quest for wealth and the dispossession of  Aboriginal land. All mining-scapes feel scarred, some more profound than others. Here, admist the box-ironbark forest, we have diggings, mullock heaps, gullies and shafts completely covering the topography, and, as I explore this landscape with my children, we see almost no place untouched by the events of the 1850s.

I’ve been to a lot of mines… I’ve worked on numerous projects exploring the legacies and impacts of mining in Australia and overseas. I’ve walked around large mines in places like Tanzania, Papua New Guinea and Western Australia, I’ve descended into the ground 500 meters below the surface – I’ve felt the rumble of the mining blast, and heard it’s warning sirens… but still I wonder how big those caverns are under there – miles of holes – millions of tonnes of minerals extracted – leaving… what in their place? Surely the earth shows, or will show, its geotrauma somehow…. I wonder… just how solid is the ground we are standing on?

While reading Speculative Research; the lure of possible futures, I began to think about how we can really not think about the future only as an extension of the present, and how that might relate to massive geotraumas that have occurred, or, are occurring. How can the future not be an extension, or not yield the impacts of, the present? I think about the below proposition and what it might mean to ‘participate in eventful temporality’.

“Participating in the eventful temporality forces us to come to resist the temptation of reducing futures to presents, of entering futures backwards, and requires that we come to terms with irreducible futures that come into existence through processes of path dependency (Sewell, 2005),  temporally heterogeneous and emergent casualties (Connolly, 2012) and global contingencies (Serres, 1995). In other words, an eventful temporality assumes that ‘contingent, unexpected, and inherently unpredictable events can undo or alter the most apparently durable trends of history’ (Sewell, 20015: 102), enabling a swerve of possible futures and creative alternatives to be explored and harnessed.” (Speculative Research: The Lure of Possible Futures, p. 7)

I’m not sure how we lure these possible futures into imagination/into being… but I wonder if the rocks might have something to teach us here.

Keeping Faith with Rocks

This project has more than a little discourse with phenomenology. When we speak about perception and entanglement, apprehending the self in the world, and embodiment, we necessarily connect with the ideas of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, among many others (Gregory Bateson, Jacob Von Uexküll, Vicki Kirby, Kate Wright, Lynn Margulis, Mary Beth Dempster et al).

We are collecting some resonant quotes, and this is the repository for their collection.

Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it is one of them. It is caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But because it sees and moves itself, it holds things in a circle around itself. Things are an annex or prolongation of my body; they are incrusted in its flesh, they are part of its full definition; the world is made of the very stuff of the body. These reversals, these antinomies, are different ways of saying that vision is caught or is made in the middle of things, where something visible undertakes to see, becomes visible for itself and through the vision of all things, where the indivision of the sensing and the sensed persists, like the original fluid within the crystal.”

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Eye and Mind, The Primacy of Perception. Evanston, USA: Northwestern University Press. pp. 159-190 (1964)

Here, Kate Wright, a writer, academic and maker, discusses Ponty’s idea of “flesh” in her essay “An Ethics of Entanglement for the Anthropocene”:
“Maurice Merleau-Ponty built on von Uexküll’s work to describe the way organisms are interlaced with their surrounds. He used the term “Flesh” to describe the open and permeable embodiment that allows us to make contact with others and with the world. For Merleau-Ponty, the boundaries of the living body are like membranes that open possibilities for metamorphosis and exchange (Abram 1996: 46). The body in this sense is an “open circuit” that is complete only in contact with others and with the earth, with the world, with things, with animals, with other bodies” (Abram 1996: 46).

By “Flesh”, Merleau-Ponty is referring to both the flesh of the body and the flesh of the world. He writes (1968: 248):

[M]y body is made of the same flesh as world… and moreover that this flesh of my body is shared by the world, the world reflects it, encroaches upon it and it encroached upon the world.

Flesh is not skin, but an extra dimension to the elements of life on earth. Flesh “is the element that makes being possible” (Buchanan 2008: 140). Glen Mazis applies Merleau-Ponty’s ontology of Flesh to help understand the cause of speciocide. He argues that processes of anthropodenial, like the denial of the lived experience of rabbits, detach human beings from the flesh of the world. Mazis writes “If we are part of the flesh of the world, then our interconnection with other species is part of the depth of our perception” (Mazis 2008: 75), and “anthropodenial” ( De Waal, 1997), the cutting off of interspecies ties which reverberate with us” (Mazis 2008: 77) detaches us from our emplacement in a multispecies world.”

And here, in her short read “A Manifesto for Creature Languages”, she discusses modes of attunement and relational becoming:

As a conceptual frame and an embodied political tactic, ‘weathering’ is a mode of attunement that attends to this relational becoming. In this immanent, affective, viscous approach to the living world, the more-than-human kin that surround us are part of a semiotic ecology – their own affective and responsive bodies reverberating with difference as they communicate shifts in time and place. Nonhuman bodies are both signals and agents because everything in the world “is a kind of immanent process of mediation or… communication,” and an active participant in the world’s becoming (Murphie, 19).
A manifesto for creature languages

She has a book out which I am keen to get a hold of called:
Transdisciplinary Journeys in the Anthropocene: More-than-human Encounters from the Routledge Environmental Humanities Series (2017)

One more note, a podcast!
Called For the Wild, this podcast discusses the critical ideas of our time and parlays them into action for the defense and regeneration of natural communities. Key topics include the rediscovery of wild nature, ecological renewal and resistance, and healing from the trauma of individualistic society.

This one is particularly great:
Marcia Bjornerud on finding humility in our geological past

That’s all for now!


Photos, Hallet Cove, 22 August 2020

Hallet Cove 22nd August 2020

I took Jessie’s camera to Hallet Cove today, south of Adelaide, still in the McMansion belt. It’s an incredible site, the life of rocks is so visible, from the huge variety of stones on the beach from a glacial dump to the glacial scrapings along the sides of the exposed cliff faces and the wild formations (slumps, folds, chatters) that are exposed on the visible geostrata.

How do we listen to rocks, with a kind of synaesthesia (we hear the striations with our whole bodies we don’t see them with eyes), or through movement? Slumping and folding over time until we are attuned, mineral to mineral?

I’m just spending time with this site, there’s so much to know.

One question which always arises for me is:  how do we understand the history of land ithout a settler geology lens, or how do these origin stories speak to one another? How do dreamings and songlines intersect with European geological eras?

We’re srtill reading the Speculative Methodologies text, which is quite rich, and inspiring us to “make possibles perceptible”  through collective experimentation and imagining our way into “deep empiricism”.

To read: Whitehead and Bergson

Will put up some images from Hallet Cove shortly





Bone Sound Conductor

Again from researcher extraordinaire Jasmine Hirst:
Sound through bones rather than ears – devices for joggers mostly.

Live Mint – Music through your bones

Geophones & Seismometers

Lovely geologists David Fredricks & Peter Bell have suggested:


Geophone from SparkFun

They both recommend having it very very tightly into the rock – epoxied in as well its spikes driven in.


“… one researcher’s noise is another’s signal…”

Seismometers pick up noise signals between & under actual events. A longstanding regular noise signal in 26 second periods has been used by seismologists to sync mechanisms & correct clock drift.

This article talks about where this noise can come from – soccer matches, waves in a distant ocean… Apparently the 26 second thing comes from waves in the Gulf of Guinea, Bight of Bonny.

“The interaction of the waves with the shallow seafloor changes the ocean wave energy into seismic waves that travel through solid earth.”

Martine Bertereau

Martine Bertereau, Baroness de Beausoleil, 1600-1642 – an early mining engineer and mineralologist, was said to find mineral ore deposits by a range of techniques including dowsing. Her writings describe the use of 7 divining or dowsing rods of different metals and a minerological compass to determine the presence of different ores.

The Restoration of Pluto by MartineBertereau

Resonance Frequencies

resonance in granite and sandstone

“…the natural frequency of the rock increases with the change of vibration mode. For the same kind of rock, the resonance frequency is inversely proportional to mass, while for the different kinds of rocks, the mechanical parameters, such as density, elastic modulus, and Poisson’s ratio, determine the resonance frequency of the rock together. Besides, the shape of the rock is also one of the main factors affecting its resonance frequency.”

from Research on the Resonance Characteristics of Rock under Harmonic Excitation, by Siqi Li, Shenglei Tian, Wei Li , Tie Yan, and Fuqing Bi , Hindawi
 Shock and Vibration, Volume August 2019

Thanks to Jasmine Hirst for research

Dr. Leroy Little Bear

Dr. Leroy Little Bear, in an interview for the article Listening to Stones

“The native paradigm consists of several key things. One of them is constant motion or constant flux. The second part is everything consists of energy waves. In the Native world, the energy waves are really the spirit. And it is the energy waves that know. It is not you who know, it is the energy waves that know. You know things because you we are also made up of energy waves. or a combination thereof.”

“[Rocks]Like a stranger, they will not sit down and tell you everything immediately. Only when the rocks begin to know you will they tell you their story.”

Thanks to Jasmine Hirst for research