Edward Abbey

Edward
Abbey
1927
1989

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

Author Quotes

Science is the whore of industry and the handmaiden of war.

Some people write to please, to soothe, to console. Others to provoke, to challenge, to exasperate and infuriate. I've always found the second approach the more pleasing.

That which today calls itself science gives us more and more information, and indigestible glut of information, and less and less understanding.

The cactus of the high desert is a small, grubby, obscure and humble vegetable associated with cattle dung and overgrazing, interesting only when you tangle with it in the wrong way. Yet from this nest of thorns, this snare of hooks and fiery spines, is born once each year a splendid flower. It is unpluckable and except to an insect almost unapproachable.

The ever-rising cost of living: Someday soon, the corporate technicians will be locking meters on our noses and charging us a royalty on the air we breathe.

The holiday is over and a strange sweet stillness, better than any music, soars above the Arches.

The massive forms jostle and grate, ions collide, and the sound of thunder is heard above the sun-drenched land. More clouds emerge from the empty sky, and anvil-headed giants with glints of lightning in their depths.

The one great gift to humankind from our nuclear physicists has been the nuclear bomb. How can we ever thank them?

The response to my books from my East Coast friends has been wildly various, running the gamut from 'bad' to 'very bad.' (Is there another gamut?)

The tremendous silence flows back, sealing the canyon country beneath a transparent dome of timelessness. The sun comes up, a resounding fire, the great golden gong of the dawn?

There are enough cathedrals and temples and altars here for a Hindu pantheon of divinities. Each time I look up one of the secretive little side canyons I half expect to see not only the cottonwood tree rising over its tiny spring?the leafy god, the desert?s liquid eye?but also a rainbow-colored corona of blazing light, pure spirit, pure being, pure disembodied intelligence, about to speak my name.

There is a deep, abiding, unshakable satisfaction in a life of complete failure.

There's another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets it tends to separate a man from the world around him. If I switch it on my eyes adapt to it and I can see only the small pool of light it makes in front of me; I am isolated. Leaving the flashlight in my pocket where it belongs, I remain a part of the environment I walk through and my vision though limited has no sharp or definite boundary.

Though I've lived in the rural West most of my life, I never once fell in love with a horse. Not once. Neither end.

Truth is always the enemy of power. And power the enemy of truth.

We can have wilderness without freedom; we can have wilderness without human life at all, but we cannot have freedom without wilderness, we cannot have freedom without leagues of open space beyond the cities, where boys and girls, men and women, can live at least part of their lives under no control but their own desires and abilities, free from any and all direct administration by their fellow men.

Well I'm not going to advocate sabotage publicly on the federal airwaves here. But I think there probably will be more of it if the conflict between conservation and development becomes more intense, and if the politicians fail to follow the popular will on the matter. I think a lot of people are going to become very angry and they're going to resort to illegal methods to try to slow down the destruction of our national resources, our wilderness, our forests, mountains, deserts. What that will lead to I hate to think. If the conflict becomes violent and physical then I'm pretty sure the environmentalists will mostly end up in prison or shot dead in their tracks. So I hope we can save what's left of Arizona and the United States by legal, political means and I still think we can. I still vote in elections...even though there doesn't seem to be much to vote for or against, when there's not much choice. I think if enough people get sufficiently concerned, why we can still make changes...needed changes in this country by political methods...God, I hope so.

What we need now are heroes and heroines, about a million of them, one brave deed is worth a thousand books. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.

When the philosopher's argument becomes tedious, complicated, and opaque, it is usually a sign that he is attempting to prove as true to the intellect what is plainly false to common sense. But men of intellect will believe anything - if it appeals to their ego, their vanity, their sense of self-importance.

Why do I write? I write to entertain my friends and to exasperate our enemies. To unfold the folded lie, to record to truth of our time, and, of course, to promote esthetic bliss.

No tyranny is so irksome as petty tyranny: the officious demands of policemen, government clerks, and electromechanical gadgets.

One day in Dipstick, Nebraska, or Landfill, Oklahoma, is worth more to me than an eternity in Dante's plastic Paradiso, or Yeats's gold-plated Byzantium.

Orthodoxy is a relaxation of the mind accompanied by a stiffening of the heart.

Perhaps I shouldn't call it shit. That's a bit crude. I don't really despise Christianity or even the Roman Church, and certainly not the incontrovertible glory of the Middle Ages. What I do despise is the contemporary inclination to flop to the knees and crawl back into the past, to shy from what seem like impossible problems in order to bury the head, asshole aloft and twitching, in the Sands of Time. Cowardice, I calls it. Illusion-seeking. Womb-crawling. And treason. Desertion in the face of the enemy.

Reason is and ought to be, as Hume said, the slave of the passions.

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