The Myth of Solid Ground

About six months ago I picked up a copy of David Ulin’s The Myth of Solid Ground, on earthquakes and earthquake prediction. I started reading it in a hotel room – then finished it aboard an airplane, my own solid points of reference put temporarily on hold. The book really stuck with me, and I soon posted about it on BLDGBLOG.
Then, a few weeks ago, I got in touch with David and we set up a telephone interview, during which time we talked about everything from the religious implications of earthquakes to the JFK assassination, from the particularly Californian subculture of earthquake predictors to the psychological role played by seismic instability in “the subterranean mythos of people’s lives,” how they find “identity in the turbulence of the land.” (Quoting from Ulin’s book).
David was friendly, open, and generous with explanations. Throughout the conversation he spoke in great looping sentences, full of parantheses and clarifications; transcribing the tape took on the air of a topological exercise, finding where the punctuation might best fit.
That interview is now online at Archinect, published for the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. So check it out.

7 thoughts on “The Myth of Solid Ground”

  1. an earthquake will shut down your clever centers like nothing else. The sound is what you get first (like a distant stampede of freight trains), a fraction of a second before the shaking, and your reptile brain knows something serious is happening immediately. For a brief second, you are an animal.

  2. I experienced a tremor when I was a kid, but we were so far out of any real earthquake zone that no one could believe it had just happened; and then, last month, I was in Death Valley and I woke up to a weirdly deep sound like an 18-wheeler driving by – but nothing was shaking, it wasn’t an 18-wheeler (one came by ten minutes later and it sounded totally different in every way), and nothing ever showed up on the USGS earthquake reporting site. So god only knows what that was.

    And that’s it.

    And, Tim, I’m always an animal.

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