Fragments of an Earlier World

The Great Stone Face, then, was a work of Nature in her mood of majestic playfulness, formed on the perpendicular side of a mountain by some immense rocks, which had been thrown together in such a position as, when viewed at a proper distance, precisely to resemble the features of the human countenance.

— Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Great Stone Face

The Stone Face

Humans have long been fascinated and inspired by unexpected natural wonders such as frozen stones appearing in lifelike forms. In the natural world which surrounds us and underlies the pavement of civilization, all rocks and plants all have their particular pattern and order according to their chemistry. Learning these patterns, humans have learned which rocks and plants are useful, but their forms appear in such variety that our senses are cluttered with the white noise of their limitless shapes. We grow accustomed to the constant din and meaningless chatter of the world around us and put it out of mind, or retreat to the angular walls of man-made surroundings, to ignore or deny the mumbling chaos that is the bedrock of the world which surrounds us.

But now and again something unexpected shocks us to our senses: a clear voice is heard above the tumultous chatter, or a distinct face appears from the fog of the senses. A rock which, for some strange unexplained reason, bears the image of a human much like us. In the midst of the complex visual chaos of the natural world, the unexpected and sudden appearance of order can seem like a miracle or evidence of divine creation.


Fragments of an Earlier World Stone Faces Gazetteer Stone Faces Map