N like this often and sometimes answers the uestion I have sometimes not this being a throw away sentence so I have to pause and start googling What a world we live in to have this information at our fingertips literally This is the type of thinking that makes kids into scientists so I am first thrilled I can have that innocence of wonder and awe and secondly that also makes poets and that is why this is such a source of joy for me The poles of the arth have wandered The Color Atlas of Human Anatomy, Vol. 3 Nervous System and Sensory Organs euator has apparently moved The continents perched on their plates are thought to have been carried so very far and to be going in so many directions that it seems an act of almost pure hubris to assert that some landmark of our world is fixed at 73 degrees 57 minutes and 53 seconds west longitude and 40 degrees 51 minutes and 14 seconds north latitude a temporary description at any rate as if for a boat on the sea This opening is so similar to Annie Dillard s style that I was hooked from the minute I picked up the 734 page book I don t think he is copying her he just has that sense of what hooks a reader and how to plant a thought that all of us wanderers and armchair wanderers muse about from time to time where is this place we have been set down There is a new interactive map that will demonstrate where whatever place you are interested in has been in the past 20 million 75 million 400 milliontc years you are interested in and it is like McPhee got that in his head from his travels over 20 years with geologists You are in central Nevada about four hundred miles The Facial Nerve east of San Francisco and after you have climbed these mountains you look out upon as it appears in present theory open sea You drop swiftly to the coast and then move on across moderately profound water full of pelagic suid water that is uietly accumulating the sediments which ages in the future will become the roof rock of the rising Sierra Tall volcanoes are standing in the sea Then at roughly the point where the Sierran foothills willnd and the Great Valley will begin at Auburn California you move beyond the shelf and over deep ocean There are probably some islands out there somewhere but fundamentally you are crossing above ocean crustal floor that reaches to the China Sea Below you there is no hint of North America no hint of the valley or the hills where Sacramento and San Francisco will be These passages are one of the main hooks for me as I travelled across the country several times only a few by I80 but it is not necessary for the idea the inspiration McPhee places the geology in my sense of place and on the land instead of a theoretical or obscure science I love long distance driving I love being so close to the land and looking up at the sky I feel as close to flying on the ground as you can be and McPhee s descriptions do nearly the same thing Land and mountains seem so sure so permanent but we know they are not They become sand And after that they sink and are piled upon by sediment to become rock again and then sand again So the basic building block of our planet is a grain of sandAnnie Dillard does an thought Surgery for Cochlear and Other Auditory Implants experiment of looking at a bird and trying to visualize it becoming defeathered and devolved into a lizard and then back again my favorite is while in a talus filed or a sand dune field under mountains to visualize them building up into mountains and then dissolving again in time and that is why geology is the
music of the arth per Hans Cloos Or as the author describes why he chose I80 of the arth per Hans Cloos Or as the author describes why he chose I80 avoids melodrama avoids the Grand Canyons the Jackson Holes the geologic operas of the country but it would surely be a sound Yoga Therapy for Insomnia and Sleep Recovery: Supporting People to Achieve Better Rest experience of the big picture of the history the construction the components of the continent And in all likelihood it would display in its roadcuts rock fromvery Multichannel Marketing Ecosystems epoch andra Slowly disassemble the Rocky Mountains and carry the material in small fragments to the Mississippi Delta The delta builds down It presses Extending Symfony 2 Web Application Framework ever deeper on the mantle Its depth at the momentxceeds twenty five thousand feet The heat and the pressure are so great down there that the silt is turning into siltstone the sand into sandstone the mud into shale The Gulf of Mexico was a good Angels Whiskey example of a geosyncline with a large part of the Rocky Mountains sitting in it as than twenty five thousand feet of silt sand and mud siltstone sandstone and shale I hiked in the Mount Evans Wilderness recently along a creek that was carving out the basement rock of the fourteener and came across a rock outcrop that had an alcove below and a hanging garden above and it was a wall of the trailssentially and again was drawn into a meditation of the mountain crumbling into these giant rocks who live with us for a while and then crumble into smaller stones and then sand It is a way of seeing I love At the same time beneath my feet the sand and dirt I walk upon is putting pressure on the detritus of the mountains below us and rock is being born McPhee is a translator of sorts as he says and then alchemizes it Geologists in their all but closed conversation inhabit scenes that no one Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plain: Volume Two: A Survey of Village Temples and Ritual Activities ever saw scenes of global sweep gone and gone again including seas mountains rivers forests and archipelagoes of aching beauty rising in volcanic violence to settle down uietly and then forever disappear almost disappear This book is one of my favorite of the series and contains the narrative description of what McPhee coined as deep time He writes about the history of geology in an alivengaging way I wish all historians could try and AS HE DESCRIBES JAMES HUTTON THE he describes James Hutton the father of modern geology Hutton had no way of knowing that there were seventy million years just in the line that separated the two kinds of rock and many millions in the story of ach formation but he sensed something like it sensed the awesome truth and as he stood there staring at the riverbank he was seeing it for all humankind If you don t get chills from that visual I am sorry To see something to sense it based on your yes and mind for all of humankind is a holy moment It was at some moment in the Pleistocene that humanity crossed what the geologist theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the Threshold of Reflection when something in people turned back on itself and so to speak took an infinite leap forward Outwardly almost nothing in the organs had changed But in depth a great revolution had taken place consciousness was now leaping and boiling in a space of super sensory relationships and representations and simultaneously consciousness was capable of perceiving itself in the concentrated simplicity of its facultie. Cess come to an understanding not only of the science but of the style of the geologists he traveled with The structure of the book never changed but its breadth caused him to complete it in stages under the overall title Annals of the Former WorldLike the terrain it covers Annals of the Former World tel. Probably one of the best books I have Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes—from Punk to Indie and Everything in Between ever read Be prepared for some geologic rigamarole and a sense of patience and the timeline of ages will unfold Its a compilation of all of McPhee s writings about American continental Geology I know sounds dull but he uses the lives and characters of the Geologists whose work he is describing along with the massive narrative arc of plate tectonics and the history of the science itself The story of America s westwardxpansion along with the Romantic The Day Christ Was Born era of northeastern America all seem to blend into a text that can miraculously alsoxplain geomorphology and other remarkably dry to This book has a rhythm unlike anything 5 Nights: Sinful Delights Boxed Set else I ve read just like geology has a timescale that takes some time to wrap your head around It s like an opera Geology and opera both have a reputation of being long and boring but they are also majestic and complex This book is long but it s not boring For a while when I first started this book my three year old wanted me to readvery other page to her the words were like poetry You can t read it uickly Reading out loud helped me settle down to the book s pace There are lots of big words some of the geology geek persuasion others of the English major nerd varietybut I wasn t constantly reaching for a dictionary McPhee throws a new geology term at you repeats it in multiple contexts so that you get a sense of the thing and then offers a complete definition just in case you still need help It s The Seventh Witch engagingAt first I was a little bothered by the lack of photographs ofverything McPhee uses a thousand words to make a picture but I still wouldn t recognize welded tuff if it was right in front of me I wanted a modernized six minute YouTube clip series complete with reality TV interviews with the geologists right at the road cutI m not sure I would have savored that as much though And also the ideas still get through I don t want to be a geologist and I don t need to memorize what all the rocks look like But I have a much better picture of the complexities of the idea of plate tectonics what it And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake explains what it doesn t And while I m sure some of the ideas presented in the book are dated the big picture of geology hasn t changed too much from the public s perspective in the last twenty some odd yearsEach book described some section of geology along Interstate 80 as well as the background of the geologist that McPhee accompanies during that stretch of land You really don t have to read the books in order if you don t want to Rising from the Plains was my favorite The geologist David Love had a childhood much like Ralph Moody who wrote the Little Britches series and Love s story is woven into the geology of Wyoming beautifully What an adventure Based on my friend Caterina s review of one of the books contained within this compilation I think this might make anxcellent gift for a young man I know I ve only read parts of this book since there are many different books included in this version of his geologic Trickle Down Tyranny: Crushing Obama's Dream of the Socialist States of America exploration of a cross section of the US I have a few things to say 1 Read Rising from the Plains as you re driving in the Tetons 2 Read any other section as you re driving in the area described Your road trip will become somethingntirely different if you can see what you re reading about 3 Read these books when you re planning a trip to any of the areas discussed 4
Just Read Them John McPhee Does Connect Things Better Than read them John McPhee does connect things better than writers of text about geology He makes it accessible while also staying interesting for those in the know And the people who are part of the geologic history of a place like the mappers and surveyers are not mere footnotes in his writing Oh no they are the main characters out for adventure and getting a lot of it along the way As a geology major a former gold miner and finally as a hydrogeologist the The Pocket Wife earth and its water have always fascinated me Reading John McPhee is always a delight because he takes what remains mostly a poorly done body of work in mostly scientific terms and turns anxplanation of how the The Color of Our Sky earth came to be into a readable andngaging topic Something just about anyone can njoy provided they have the curiosity and interest in wondering how so much stunning geography came to be where it is and what it isWell done John McPheeGreat Read Geologists in their all but closed conversation inhabit scenes that no one ver saw scenes of global sweep gone and gone again including seas mountains rivers forests and archipelagoes of aching beauty rising in volcanic violence to settle down uietly and then forever disappear almost disappear If by some fiat I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence this is the one I would choose The summit of Mt Everest is marine limestone My first review will be in Annals and then I will review the rest in the individual books I may be cheating by doing it this way but in this reread I have a lot I want to talk about and there are restrictions on characters in these reviews and I am running up against them I found that out with Annie Dillard s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek where I tried to not only immortalize her words but talk about how they made me feel and think and ran I tried to not only immortalize her words but talk about how they made me feel and think and ran of room So I am rereading the whole canon Annals of the Former World but reviewing Obsession each book separately which they are technically separate books so technically not cheating by claimingach one separately And I feel that I am writing the way Mr McPhee writes in grand sentences and with grand ideas and with caveats and humor and must apologize for the copycatting I also think that talking reading and thinking about geology does this to me Mr McPhee is credited with opening a huge new interest in geology in us laypeople I have to credit it Cabaret: A Roman Riddle emphatically to Annie Dillard who has 2xamples of big picture geology and deep time one like a lyrical waking dream and the other an artist s interpretation of time Mountains burst up jutting and dull and soften before your yes clothed in forests like felt The ice rolls up grinding green land under water forever the ice rolls back I have never been the same always attuned to the geopoetry of this way of looking at the world and seeing the links between Dillard and McPhee in my worldviewAn xample of what it does goes like this I read a sentence such as There was glaciation in the Southern Hemisphere at the time And my mind is blown why in the Ice Ages was there so little glaciation in the Southern Hemisphere Antarctica is obviously a fertile field for glaciers how have I never though of this Why was there in this period he is talking about McPhee drops informatio. The Pulitzer Prize winning view of the continent across the fortieth parallel and down through 46 billion yearsTwenty years ago when John McPhee began his journeys back and forth across the United States he planned to describe a cross section of North America at about the fortieth parallel and in the pro.
free read Annals of the Former WorldS And all this happened for the first time Annie Dillard wrote in 1974 and then in 1990 in depth about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin so I was delighted he is in Basin and Range Teilhard was a paleontologist priest and philosopher and my main mantra in life is attributed to him Throughout my whole life during very minute of it the world has been gradually lighting up and blazing before my yes until it has come to surround me All Roads Lead Home entirely lit up from within When I read about the Threshold of Reflection I wished I was there In my mind it links to the immortalized footsteps found in Tanzania where Mary Leakey found a trail of hominid footprints as Dillard writes in For the Time Being They walked on moist volcanic tuff and ash We have a record of those few seconds from a day about 36 million years ago More ash covered the footprints and hardened like plaster Ash also preserved the pockmarks of the raindrops that fell beside the three who walked it was a rainy dayWe do not know why the woman paused and turned left briefly before continuing A remote ancestor Leakey saidxperienced a moment of doubt Possibly they watched the Sadiman volcano rupting or they took a last look back before they left We do know we cannot make anything so lasting as these three barefoot ones did Perhaps they became conscious of themselves as conscious beings in that moment meaning perhaps we were all there McPhee writes The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time Why yes yes it did and it still does maybe alwaysSome deep time analogies Geologists will sometimes use the calendar year as a unit to represent the time scale and in such terms the Precambrian runs from New Year s Day until well after Halloween Dinosaurs appear in the middle of December and are gone the day after Christmas The last ice sheet melts on December 31st at one minute before midnight and the Roman Empire lasts five seconds With your arms spread wide again to represent all time on arth look at one hand with its line of life The Cambrian begins in the wrist and the Permian Extinction is at the outer nd of the palm All of the Cenozoic is in a fingerprint and in a single stroke with a medium grained nail file you could radicate human history The human consciousness may have begun to leap and boil some sunny day in the Pleistocene but the race by and large has retained the The Mephisto Threat (Paul Tallis essence of its animal sense of time People think in five generations two ahead two behind with heavy concentration on the one in the middle Possibly that is tragic and possibly there is no choice The human mind may not havevolved nough to be able to comprehend deep time It may only be able to measure it Going into the deep time meditation a little differently about the spans of time in ither direction I loved these imageries There is no younger rock in the United States than the travertine that is forming in Thermopolis Wyoming A 27 billion year old outcrop of the core of the continent is at the head of Wind River Canyon twenty miles away And in the deep shadow below the Cambrian were seven years for veryone in all subseuent time There were four billion years back there since the arliest beginnings of the world In six thousand years you could never grow wings on a reptile With sixty million however you could have feathers too On the geologic time scale a human lifetime is reduced to a brevity that is too inhibiting to think about The mind blocks the information Geologists dealing always with deep time find that it seeps into their beings and affects them in various ways Mammalian species last typically two million years We ve about used up ours Every time Leakey finds something older I say Oh We re overdue We will be handing the dominant species on Just Cause earth position to some other group We ll have to be clever not to If you free yourself from the conventional reaction to a uantity like a million years you free yourself a bit from the boundaries of human time And then in a way you do not live at all but in another way you live forever A mostxcellent remedy for insomnia and speaking as a sufferer I do not mean that pejoratively The perfect book for reading a little bit at bedtime very night asy to pick up and put down but still worth the reading It lasted me about 6 weeks not sure what I ll use now Well I suppose there s still E O Wilson s The Ants but I m not sure my arms are strong nough to hold it upLayer by layer McPhee sediments one s grasp of deep time and of the geologists who study it A little too accessible to be called magisterial but it still vokes that feeling I would also recommend it as an antidote for the news Highly recommended not that it apparently needs my approval I m glad it won the Pulitzer in its dayTa L I m glad I m not beyond the age where books I read can change the way I see the world If that is an age you can reach I don t want to I can t ven drive down the highway now without seeing something as simple as roadcuts in a whole different light I ve said this before but in another life I must have been a geologist Or like McPhee at least making a study of that place where language and the arth overlap Nothing fascinates me This was beyond fantastic I ll keep reading it
For Years If By Someyears If by some I had to restrict all this writing to one sentence this is the one I would choose the summit of Mount Everest is marine limestone John McPhee Annals of the Former WorldWhat I absolutely love about McPhee s nonfiction is his ability to write about place people and ideas with both beautiful prose and amazing intimacy My favorite parts are
where McPhee weaves place and people or people and ideas together and stablishes the grand metaphor for his book McPheeMcPhee weaves place and people or people and ideas together and stablishes the grand metaphor for his book McPhee up pieces of conversation with geologists and their satelites that might get missed by most other writers but manages to find keep and ventually place these nuggets into his book written over 20 years in a way that works to support his big themes Seriously this book is one of my favorite nonfiction works of all time You can see the mark McPhee left on his students writing if you ve ver read Robert Wright Richard Preston or New Yorker Fiesta Moon editor David Remnick Some consider McPhee to be the godfather of New New Journalism but he is much than that IMHO he is the godfather of modern nonfiction writing period Absolutely bar none the finest work of American natural science that I vever read McPhee has the ye of a scientist and the soul of a poet and it makes for truly astonishing writing I don t like to pile on the superlatives but this is probably one of my ten favorite books of all time. Ls a multilayered tale and the reader may choose one of many paths through it As clearly and succinctly written as it is profoundly informed this is our finest popular survey of geology and a masterpiece of modern nonfiction Annals of the Former World is the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Nonficti.