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I am looking at a rock. In this light the rock appears gray with specks of white. The specks seem countless, but I count them and they number 104. The top of the rock is rounded with a slight indentation running from side to side. The light shifts and the rock changes from gray to light blue. I pick it up and put it on the scales; the meter points to two and a half ounces. I look underneath, and it is flat and smooth. The edges are curved and rough. The shape, from this perspective, is round but from another oblong and from another thin and wafery. I drop the rock on the sidewalk, but it doesn't break. When I smash it with a marble-colored rock, tiny whitish flecks appear. I spit on the blemishes, rub the spittle around, and the flecks disappear. Now that it is wet it looks dark and shiny. It dries intermittently with spots of dark gray, gray, and blue. Now it is all blue.
I consult a geology textbook and learn that it is a piece of granite. It is in the plutonic class of common igneous rocks. Its acid composition is high, and its essential silicate phases are quartz, potash feldspar, sodic plagioclase, biotite, and hornblende.
I never etch it with a diamond or immerse it in acid. I don't cover it in jello or attack it with a jackhammer. I don't study it in the light of dawn or early evening. I couldn't find it in the dark. I don't know how it differs from most other rocks, how it reacts with most other substances, how it persists unchanged for millennia. I have learned that such things, like most other things, are constructed out of tiny little particles that are traveling at relatively rapid speeds and separated by relatively vast distances. What appears manifestly and archetypically solid and unitary is a multiplicity occupying mostly empty space. I don't know if it bubbled up from within the earth where I found it or if it was carried on some great glacier. Perhaps it was brought here by a fellow traveler or by a gardener or by a curious child. When I set it down ...