Edward Abbey

Edward
Abbey
1927
1989

American Author and Essayist noted for advocacy of environmental issues and criticism of public land policies

Author Quotes

Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.

Platitude: a statement that denies by implication what it explicitly affirms.

Representative government has broken down. Our politicians represent not the people who vote for them but the commercial interests who finance their election campaigns. We have the best politicians that money can buy.

Shakespeare wrote great poetry and preposterous plays. Who really cares, for example, which petty tyrant rules Milan? Or who succeeds to the throne of Denmark? Or why the barons ganged up on Richard II?

Standing there, gaping at this monstrous and inhumane spectacle of rock and cloud and sky and space, I feel a ridiculous greed and possessiveness come over me. I want to know it all, posess it all, embrace the entire scene intimately, deeply, totally...

The author: an imaginary person who writes real books.

The critics say that Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony has no form. They are wrong; it has the form of Shostakovich's Fourth Symphony.

The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante's paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.

The industrial way of life leads to the industrial way of death. From Shiloh to Dachau, from Antietam to Stalingrad, from Hiroshima to Vietnam and Afghanistan, the great specialty of industry and technology has been the mass production of human corpses.

The more I dim my eyes over print and frazzle my brain over abstract ideas, the more I appreciate the delight of being basically an animal wrapped in a sensitive skin: sex, the resistance of rock, the taste and touch of snow, the feel of the sun, good wine and a rare beefsteak and the company of friends around a fire with a guitar and lousy old cowboy songs. Despair: I'll never be a scholar, never be a decent good Christian. Just a hedonist, a pagan, a primitive romantic

The plow of mortality drives through the stubble, turns over rocks and sod and weeds to cover the old, the worn-out, the husks, shells, empty seedpods and sapless roots, clearing the field for the next crop. A ruthless, brutal process?but clean and beautiful.

The romantic view, while not the whole of truth, is a necessary part of the whole truth.

The wilderness should be preserved for political reasons. We may need it someday not only as a refuge from excessive industrialism but also as a refuge from authoritarian government, from political oppression. Grand Canyon, Big Bend, Yellowstone, and the High Sierras may be required to function as bases for guerrilla warfare against tyranny...The value of wilderness, on the other hand, as a base for resistance to centralized domination is demonstrated by recent history. In Budapest and Santo Domingo, for example, popular revolts were easily and quickly crushed because an urbanized environment gives the advantage to the power with technological equipment. But in Cuba, Algeria, and Vietnam the revolutionaries, operating in mountain, desert, and jungle hinterlands with the active or tacit support of a thinly dispersed population, have been able to overcome or at least fight to a draw official establishment forces equipped with all of the terrible weapons of twentieth century militarism.

There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who's always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated. ? To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.

There is beauty, heartbreaking beauty, everywhere.

They cannot see that growth for the sake of growth is a cancerous madness, that Phoenix and Albuquerque will not be better cities to live in when their populations are doubled again and again. They would never understand that an economic system which can only expand or expire must be false to all that is human.

To aid and abet in the destruction of a single species or in the extermination of a single tribe is to commit a crime against God, a mortal sin against Mother Nature. Better by far to sacrifice in some degree the interests of mechanical civilization, curtail our gluttonous appetite for things, ever more things, learn to moderate our needs, and most important, and not difficult, learn to control, limit and gradually reduce our human numbers. We humans swarm over the planet like a plague of locusts, multiplying and devouring. There is no justice, sense or decency in this mindless global breeding spree, this obscene anthropoid fecundity, this industrialized mass production of babies and bodies, ever more bodies and babies. The man-centered view of the world in anti-Christian, anti-Buddhist, antinature, antilife, and--antihuman.

Vladimir Nabokov was a writer who cared nothing for music and whose favorite sport was the pursuit, capture, and murder of butterflies. This explains many things; for example, the fact that Nabokov's novels, for all their elegance and wit, resemble nothing so much as butterflies pinned to a board: pretty but dead; symmetrical but stiff.

We live in a society in which it is normal to be sick; and sick to be abnormal.

What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.

When a man must be afraid to drink freely from his country's river and streams that country is no longer fit to live in.

Whenever I read _Time_ or _Newsweek_ or such magazines, I wash my hands afterward. But how to wash off the small but odious stain such reading leaves on the mind?

Why this cult of wilderness? Why the surly hatred of progress and development, the churlish resistance to all popular improvements? Very well, a fair question, but it?s been asked and answered a thousand times already; enough books to drive a man stark naked mad have dealt in detail with the question. There are many answers, all good, each sufficient. Peace is often mentioned; beauty; spiritual refreshment, whatever that means; re-creation for the soul, whatever that is; escape; novelty, the delight of something different; truth and understanding and wisdom?commendable virtues in any man, anytime; ecology and all that, meaning the salvation of variety, diversity, possibility and potentiality, the preservation of the genetic reservoir, the answers to questions that we have not yet even learned to ask, a connection to the origin of things, an opening into the future, a source of sanity for the present?all true, all wonderful, all more than enough to answer such a dumb dead degrading question as Why wilderness? To which, nevertheless, I shall append one further answer anyway: because we like the taste of freedom; because we like the smell of danger.

Nothing can excel a few days in jail for giving a young man or woman a quick education in the basis of industrial society.

One of the pleasant things about small town life is that everyone, whether rich or poor, liked or disliked, has some kind of a role and place in the community. I never felt that living in a city - as I once did for a couple of years.

Author Picture
First Name
Edward
Last Name
Abbey
Birth Date
1927
Death Date
1989
Bio

American Author and Essayist noted for advocacy of environmental issues and criticism of public land policies