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4 September 2012 | Draft

Enstoning with Rocks and Rockets

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Annex 3 of Fivefold Clustering of Ways of Being Stoned: Imagination, Promise, Rocks, Memorials, Petrification (2012)


"Stone" is used metaphorically and otherwise in a quite disparate range of contexts. These nevertheless offer an elusive implication of connectivity which merits exploration, as attempted here -- especially given the associated sense of concreteness.

This offers an alternative understanding of the frameworks of belief systems, their articulation, and the problematic relationships between them -- exemplified by the communication processes in any gathering in which multiple themes are evoked and challenged from a variety of perspectives -- and to relatively little avail. Use of "stoned" as a provocative mnemonic device is then arguably appropriate through the distraction it offers, whether through use of drugs by individuals, or collective dependence on oil as a drug.

The argument is developed in the main paper in the light of five ways of clustering "being stoned", each summarized in a separate annex:

Understandings of "stone" and "being stoned" can also be fruitfully considered in the light of the following.


Joseph Campbell notes that: A Persian city once was "enstoned to stone" -- king and queen, soldiers, inhabitants, and all -- because its people refused the call of Allah (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2008, p. 53)

Ancestral embodiment: The deeply valued relation of some peoples to their land -- fundamental to so many conflicts -- is recognized somewhat differently by various indigenous peoples, such as the Aborigines of Australia. As noted by Anthony Weston (Back to Earth: Tomorrow's Environmentalism, 1994):

The Inca are alleged to have sensed a deep reservoir of spirituality along the Andes mountain range. Mytho-poetic folk legends, and modern fictional explorations, serve to sustain and echo the archetypal insights in many cultures relating to elder "ancestral" races who "withdrew into the stones" -- or to those that may have been "trapped" therein, like Merlin and the proverbial geni in the bottle. Most curiously, one of the most popular and best known Christian hymns has as its opening lines: Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee [more | more].

Foundation stones and keystones:

It is curious that the various processes of "stoning" can be understood as intimately related to a form of "weaponisation" of symbolic "foundation materials". Cognitive domains may well be delimited and protected by "stonewalling", variously understood as emotional withdrawal, delaying tactics, refusal of cooperation.

The "stones" used as weapons are not merely physical in form but also tend to carry considerable cultural, political and cognitive significance in striking the other -- and this may be their primary function, as vehicles for that significance (as discussed with respect to "stoning the devil"). Appropriate to this point is that gemstones are valued for being "striking" -- achieving an effect on those so struck, as with the physical effects sought by "stoning".

Presumably for religions this "striking" association is a feature of the just war theory which they are so complicit in elaborating. Faith-based governance is increasingly evident as a being primary supporter of conflict between states and peoples -- however much the violence may be formally regretted by religious authorities. Could this be considered a collective instance of what is recognized in urban slang as "getting one's rocks off"?

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