Friday, July 09, 2010

Oil Notes by Rick Bass

It is raining hard. The stereo is playing. I am alone. All the windows are shut, five o'clock in the evening. The rain is thundering, coming down hard. The stereo is up loud. I'm completely happy. It feels too easy: like walking in a dream. Surely I am missing something. It cannot be this easy. Happiness is supposed to be sought after, complex, to be found only with the greatest amount of cunning.

Water roars off the roof, and I am dry.

Later tonight I will fix coffee.


They're not alike at all, really: writing and geology. There's a deceit in writing; you're trying to pull all the clever elements together and toss out the dull and round-edged ones. Basically, it's building a lie and then swinging the lie's massiveness into the path of the reader and hiding behind it. Curiously, however, in geology, when I pour a cup of coffee and sit down and begin to map, I'm not hiding behind anything; there's no pretense, no deceit, just an inquisitive hunger and innocence where I am neither superior nor inferior to the reader, but am the reader. There's truly an amount of trust. The earth lies there, still, and obeys certain rules. I have faith that I am not going to let myself believe something that is not true. It is perhaps the purest thing I've ever done. Perhaps that is why geologists become so fervent about a particular prospect. Not holy men, but still there is that aspect to it--as in athletics, and religions.

Go beyond that, under the greed and dollars of it and into the purity. How many traps of ancient reserves are left, and how long will it take us to use, at our known rate, our known requirements, this projectable quantity? You hit zero, every well in the world a dry hole, in about sixty-five years. Do not think it will be a pretty sight.

--Rick Bass, Oil Notes (1989)

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