Textures help a person think
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Textures help a person think book
The ﬁne texture of the land surface is an important referent in terms of its visuality and feel. This is at the scale relevant to the soil scientist, the ecologist and the farmer, the scale of the soil and the vegetation itself (Figure 3.1) rather than the bigger undulations recorded by archaeologists in their topographical surveys. It is the scale experienced by the agriculturalist when tilling the soil, weeding and harvesting, or that of the gleaner of grain. It is the experience of people collecting surface mineral ores, or dung or dead wood for fuel or fertilizer. It is the closest, most intimate, scale with the land surface that can be experienced under everyday practices of living. At its greatest it encompasses natural features like ant-heaps and termite mounds which could be recorded by ﬁeld archaeology but which usually are not. Often we think about soil surfaces in terms of agriculture (Figure 6.2), and
it is true that this is an area where texture has widespread relevance; even for those of us who are not involved in farming, walking over cultivated land in the wet is an encumbrance of clodden boots. But other kinds of surfaces have just as signiﬁcant textures, like woodland, meadows and the pavements and tarmac of our urban and village lives, and there are many parts of the world, the arid and semi-arid lands, where a permanent and continuous vegetation cover is quite exceptional (Figure 6.9). The experience of textures beneath our feet at these qualities and scales is
rarely acknowledged as a medium of social agency. The colours, consistencies, textures and stoninesses of the soil surveyor, the fabrics and micromorphological descriptions of the soil scientist, or the vegetation cover-scales of the ecologist (Magurran 1988) are used in an agendum of description and analysis of processes and history rather than as characteristics of human experience. But this, surely, is a mistake. It is at its surface that we are in constant, immediate and close physical contact with the land, so it is inconceivable that there is no relevance in this beyond that of sheer materiality or function. Land-surface textures can be used in the business of manipulating social expression. Textures help a person think.