Convergences: Poets & Geologists & Driving & Mermaids.

John McPhee tells you not to hitch a ride with geologists. Martin Amis tell you who not to hitch a ride with poets. Montaigne says, Who needs a car when you have a tail?

McPhee's Annals of the Former World:
Geologists on the whole are inconsistent drivers. When a roadcut presents itself, they tend to lurch and weave. To them, a roadcut is a portal, a fragment of a regional story, a proscenium arch that leads their imaginations into the earth and through the surrounding terrane. (...)
"If I'm going to drive safely, I can't do geology."

Amis's The Information:
Poets can't, don't, shouldn't drive. (British poets can't or don't drive. American poets drive, but shouldn't.)

Horace, by way of Montaigne:
Poets can create monsters at will; say a fair maid with the tail of a fish, that is, a mermaid.

Montaigne and the Tauntaun

Montaigne on the historical precedent for the apparently-scientifically-improbable Star Wars bit where Han Solo stuffs Luke Skywalker into the Tauntaun: The army that Bajazet had sent into Russia was overwhelmed with so dreadful a tempest of snow, that to shelter and preserve themselves from the cold, many killed and embowelled their horses, to creep into their bellies and enjoy the benefit of that vital heat. (From On War Horses in The Complete Essays.)

Craigslist, Montaigne-style

Montaigne's dad points out the need for Craigslist several centuries before it finally came around:

My late father, a man that had no other advantages than experience and his own natural parts, was nevertheless of a very clear judgment, formerly told me that he once had thoughts of endeavouring to introduce this practice; that there might be in every city a certain place assigned to which such as stood in need of anything might repair, and have their business entered by an officer appointed for that purpose. As for example: I want a chapman to buy my pearls; I want one that has pearls to sell; such a one wants company to go to Paris; such a one seeks a servant of such a quality; such a one a master; such a one such an artificer; some inquiring for one thing, some for another, every one according to what he wants. And doubtless, these mutual advertisements would be of no contemptible advantage to the public correspondence and intelligence: for there are evermore conditions that hunt after one another, and for want of knowing one another's occasions leave men in very great necessity.