Monday, June 1, 2015

Geology and Kintsugi

I think it was my sister who pointed me towards the concept of kintsugi.  I don't remember which trauma it was I was dealing with at the time, or whether she was simply sharing something that she had read.  (She knows I have a love for the odd and quirky detail.)  Kintsugi is a Japanese technique, introduced in the 15th Century, of mending broken pottery with gold.  The technique essentially focuses on the beauty of the break, rather than on the unbroken vessel.  The resulting vessel is simply better for having been broken and mended.

I read the blog entry Caroline had linked me to, and it resonated very strongly with me.  I have long since lost the original link she sent, but the concept is also beautifully expressed here.

I love the idea.  The metaphor for life is amazing.  The biggest fractures in life require more gold, and the scar tissue shines brighter than any glaze.

I find the same metaphor applies to the science of geology.  I am fascinated by geodes, agates, crystals, endocasts, fossils, lamina, foliation... anything that change one substance into another is simply magical to me. 

Thunderegg from Oregon
One of the only semiprecious stones available to me locally are agates - they can be found in Louisiana in the outwash gravel from previous glacial eras.  Agates are interesting, because they are formed (geologists think - they have not been able to prove it) by the slow filling of voids in rock with silica. The voids fill from the outside inward, and do so very slowly, forming bands of different colors.  Sometimes, they fill slowly enough to form crystals, leaving a geode.  Other times, they fill completely, forming a "thunderegg". 
"Tortured agates" from Mississippi and Louisiana
 Figuring out what happened to form the stones - any stone - is a fascinating process to me.  Some times, it is as simple as cross-cutting relationships, with hot molten quartz comes through the rock, leaving a vein.  Other times it is more subtle, with layers of sediment with slightly different coloring grading from one to another.  The beauty comes in the unique distinctions among them. 

Like with the kintsugi, the stunning beauty is the result of healed fractures, where weak points are filled with something special.

The rocks on my counter are like the people in my life.  The weak spots provide the basis for being filled with unexpected richness.  And the result is beautiful. 



NOJuju said...

I also love kintsugi. This is a lovely post.

Crorey Lawton said...

From my compadre:


I saw a strikingly handsome Japanese tea bowl that had been broken and pieced together. The image of that bowl made a lasting impression. Instead of trying to hide the flaws, the cracks were emphasized, filled with silver. The bowl was even more precious after it had been mended.

Susan Bender (In Everyday Sacred: A Woman's Journey Home by Harper Collins, 1995)