Steep: the force of thrusting and rising up; a temporary force often maintained in the shape of cliffs and hills. A person climbing a cliff or a hill is climbing the point at which that force intersects with the world. In itself, it is nothing. (One speaks of steep hills and steep climbs but not of climbing a steep.) It is at the point of intersection with the earth, the point at which this energy reveals itself, that it takes on its nature. Steep energy thrusts the earth up (which has the energy of lying low). The resulting steepness of a slope indicates the strength of the earth’s energy for lowness at that point and of steep energy’s ability to grab hold of it, carry it, and hold it. The test for the amount of steep energy present is to climb a slope. A cinder cone of loose volcanic rubble, on which neither your feet nor steepness can gain full purchase, has a conical shape, while a series of hard basalt columns, on which steep energy can gain a firm hold, rise straight and true. A steep slope will lose its hold on earth over time, which will return to its flat state, or will be grabbed and held in a gentler, intermediary slope before it reaches that point.


Litlafoss, Ísland

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