John McPhee Quotes

Enjoy the top 42 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by John McPhee.

John McPhee Quotes

On each of two porches lie big chunks of serpentine—smooth as talc, mottled black and green. When you see rocks like that on a porch, a geologist is inside.
— John McPhee —

The doctor listens in with a stethoscope and hears sounds of a warpath Indian drum.

— John McPhee

Young writers find out what kinds of writers they are by experiment. If they choose from the outset to practice exclusively a form of writing because it is praised in the classroom or otherwise carries appealing prestige, they are vastly increasing the risk inherent in taking up writing in the first place.

— John McPhee

Wood was the main source of energy in the world until the eighteen-fifties, and it still could be. Roughly a tenth of the annual growth of all the trees on earth could yield alcohol enough to run everything that now uses coal and petroleum-every airplane, every industry, every automobile.

— John McPhee

A million years is a short time - the shortest worth messing with for most problems. You begin tuning your mind to a time scale that is the planet's time scale. For me, it is almost unconscious now and is a kind of companionship with the earth.

— John McPhee

There are dark, hard, cherty silt-stones from some deep ocean trench full of rapidly accumulating Pennsylvanian guck.

— John McPhee

George Sears, called Nessmuk, whose "Woodcraft," published in 1884, was the first American book on forest camping, and is written with so much wisdom, wit, and insight that it makes Henry David Thoreau seem alien, humorless, and French.

— John McPhee

A small cabin stands in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, about a hundred yards off a trail that crosses the Cascade Range. In midsummer, the cabin looked strange in the forest. It was only twelve feet square, but it rose fully two stories and then had a high and steeply peaked roof. From the ridge of the roof, moreover, a ten-foot pole stuck straight up. Tied to the top of the pole was a shovel. To hikers shedding their backpacks at the door of the cabin on a cold summer evening
as the five of us did
it was somewhat unnerving to look up and think of people walking around in snow perhaps thirty-five feet above, hunting for that shovel, then digging their way down to the threshold. [1971]

— John McPhee

In making war with nature, there was risk of loss in winning.

— John McPhee

Taking things from one source is plagiarism; taking things from several sources is research.

— John McPhee

On the geological time scale, a human lifetime is reduced to a brevity that is too inhibiting to think about deep time ... Geologists ... see the unbelievable swiftness with which one evolving species on the Earth has learned to reach into the dirt of some tropical island and fling 747s across the sky ... Seeing a race unaware of its own instantaneousness in time, they can reel off all the species that have come and gone, with emphasis on those that have specialized themselves to death.

— John McPhee

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