‘Lithogenesis': Towards a (Geo)Poetics of Place

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Stone and geology have proved themselves appealing to twentieth- and twenty-first-century authors concerned with place-writing and the development of place-consciousness more widely. The austere presence of materials which have emerged from a scale of time difficult to relate to our own has offered a humbling corrective to our modern experience. Such encounters have also been resistant to a particular intersection of environmental and Romantic traditions of thought that searches for a ‘reunion’ with nature. In so doing they may present a useful way forward for thinking through place in a modern context. Stone and geology are explored in the work of three authors here – Kenneth White, Tim Robinson and Alastair McIntosh. In texts by each of these authors we can read a consistent effort to reimagine the cultural geography of place by turning toward a deeper understanding of the stone beneath their feet. Far from regarding stone as a source of stability and reliability, these three find themselves accommodating unstable, vertiginous, precarious and plural truths that can be drawn upon as a source for, what White calls, ‘cultural renewal’. Realising the impossibility of being fully reconciled to such a non-human scale of presence also leads to the opening of what Heidegger calls a ‘clearing’ (Lichtung), both in terms of an aesthetic space in the poetics of topographical writing but also in terms of a lived place and the dynamic creativity at the heart of place identity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalLiterary Geographies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • place
  • geopoetics
  • Tim Robinson
  • nature writing
  • literary geography
  • Heidegger

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