Figured Stones is a masterpiece of natural philosophy and a vital contribution to the emerging field of vibrant materialism. It is both a manual of visionary geology and a treatise on lithic scrying; a manifesto on rock veneration and an exploration of deep-time consciousness. In vivid and lucent prose, Paul Prudence crosses the ‘blood-brain barrier of dimensionality’, condensing and expanding both space and time by drawing the extremities of scale into paradoxical alignment. Vast landscapes become visible in miniature surfaces, and, liberated from our reductive impressions of time, rock itself becomes pliant, mercurial and alive. In this expanded state, the lithosphere is self-aware, memorising its own telluric activity, from weather patterns to the fluid dynamics of rivers.
With Prudence as a guide we encounter rocks as messengers, talismans and oracles. Stones become portals to other worlds and act as intermediaries to the domains of gods, demons and spirits. Geology acts as a divinatory system for decoding dreams, or as a tool for connecting us to our greater ancestral consciousness. At a time when we are barely cognisant of the lives of other-than-human beings, Prudence resuscitates the pre-Socratic doctrine of hylozoism – that all matter has life.
Throughout the pages of Figured Stones, rocks become agents for studying planetary introspection and geological sentience – they reveal an ‘inter-animating spirit of mind and matter where biological and mineral kingdoms collude’. Figured Stones is destined to become an important book in a new movement that acknowledges and embraces more-than-human life at a critical time in our global ecology.