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An Ode to John McPhee

For those who haven't had the good fortune of reading McPhee, consider doing so. Right now.


His writing covers a vast span of topics, but a recurring one is geology, and our place in it. Years ago I read "Basin and Range" and found it amazing. The geology can be pretty dense, but you can let it flow over you like so much geologic time. We are but transient specks in this context, which is helpful to remember on occasion.


Driving across Nevada and Utah yesterday and today remind me again of McPhee. Not only is he a master of his subject matter, he is a masterful user of the language. He is spare, economical, clear, and human. Achieving this in any domain is marvelous, and one must marvel at his works.


Most of the geology I witnessed these two days, of basin, then range, repeating reminds one of the periodicity found throughout nature, including those things in our lives we believe are under our control.



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Unknown member
Apr 12, 2021

I love McPhee's writing. He somehow makes geology ... poetic. ?

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