Organic Rocks?

I have in front of me a catalog advertising “Organic Stone Sculptures.”  These “sculptures” are stacks (they call them “cairns”) of five or seven river rocks with steel rods running up through them so they won’t fall apart.  Referring to these things as “sculptures” and “cairns” is stretching both definitions a bit, but “organic” is just plain wrong.

The term organic may mean slightly different things, depending on who is using it.  If a chemist refers to an organic chemical, she means a chemical containing carbon.  If a biologist says something is organic, he means it is alive, or was alive, or was produced by something that is or was alive.  These uses are related, though not exactly the same, as the element carbon, and it’s ability to form chains and rings and other elegant and complex structures is the basis of life on earth.  What the term means when used by the produce manager of your local megamart is less well defined, but is generally accepted to mean grown without synthetic fertilizers and pest controls.  Similarly, “organic” milk comes from cows not fed antibiotics or synthetic hormones.

None of these definitions apply to a stack of river rocks.


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