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Thea Potter

Published On


Page Range

pp. 153-194

Print Length

41 pages

5. The Presence of the Lithic

  • Thea Potter (author)
In Chapter Five (‘The Presence of the Lithic’) I illustrate the indebtedness of the conceptual structure and language of the geologic timescale to the Aristotelian formulation of time. I do not do this to assert that there is a debt modern thought owes to ancient thought but rather to raise the possibility of the divisive nature of the question of time itself. In the geologic timescale, as in Aristotelian time, linearity is important but not unproblematic. How the measurement of time is conceptualised both in geologic and in Aristotelian ‘time’ raises the problem of division in a continuum, or how to break time down into measurable units. For Aristotle the ‘now’ is the term distinguishing the past from the future, brought into alignment with the figure of the horos. Does this temporal boundary still retain a trace of stone? The stone is not only instrumental but also essential to the divisions of geologic time; it is simultaneously the tool and the unit of measure. Here, too, stone is read by us, and it is believed that it can tell us something determinate about the past, something at once concrete and abstract. That stone is given as a figure of the unit of time, interpreted as an indicator of time past, must alert us that the dynamics of existence are always read in material configurations which, as in the geological diagnostic of the Anthropocene, implicate a notion of human conjectural and material hegemony.


Thea Potter