Edward Abbey

Edward
Abbey
1927
1989

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

Author Quotes

Romanticism was more than merely an alternative to a sterile classicism; romanticism made possible, especially in art, a great expansion of the human consciousness.

Simplicity is always a virtue. One kid on a riverbank working out a Stephen Foster tune on his new harmonica heard from the correct esthetic distance projects more magic and power than the entire Vienna Philharmonic and Chorus laboring (once again) through the Mozart Requiem or Bach's B Minor Mass.

Strolling on, it seems to me that the strangeness and wonder of existence are emphasized here, in the desert, by the comparative sparsity of the flora and fauna: life not crowded upon life as in other places but scattered abroad in spareness and simplicity, with a generous gift of space for each herb and bush and tree, each stem of grass, so that the living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life-forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.

The basic science is not physics or mathematics but biology -- the study of life. We must learn to think both logically and bio-logically.

The desert wears... a veil of mystery. Motionless and silent it evokes in us an elusive hint of something unknown, unknowable, about to be revealed. Since the desert does not act it seems to be waiting -- but waiting for what?

The function of football, soccer, basketball and other passion-sports in modern industrial society is the transference of boredom, frustration, anger and rage into socially acceptable forms of combat. A temporary substitute for war; for nationalism; identification with something bigger than the self.

The knowledge that refuge is available, when and if needed, makes the silent inferno of the desert more easily bearable. Mountains complement desert as desert complements city, as wilderness complements and completes civilization.

The most striking thing about the rich is the gracious democracy of their manners -- and the crude vulgarity of their way of life.

The Proustian aquarium: grotesque and gorgeous fish drifting with languid fins through a subaqueous medium of pale violet polluted ink.

The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.

The world is big but it is comprehensible, says R. Buckminster Fuller. But it seems to me that the world is not nearly big enough and that any portion of its surface, left unpaved and alive, is infinitely rich in details and relationships, in wonder, beauty, mystery comprehensible only in part. The very existence of existence is itself suggestive of the unknown - not a problem, but a mystery. We will never get to the bottom of it, never know the whole of even so small and trivial and useless and precious a place as Aravaipa. Therein lies our redemption.

There comes a point, in literary objectivity, when the author's self- effacement is hard to distinguish from moral cowardice.

There is no trajectory so pathetic as that of an artist in decline.

This is the most beautiful place on earth. There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio, or Rome ? there's no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment.

To die alone, on rock under sun at the brink of the unknown, like a wolf, like a great bird, seems to me very good fortune indeed.

Walking is the only form of transportation in which a man proceeds erect -- like a man -- on his own legs, under his own power. There is immense satisfaction in that.

We must concede that science is nothing new, that research, empirical logic, the courage to experiment are as old as humanity.

What I heard made me think that I should see Havasu immediately, before something went wrong somewhere. My friends said they would wait. So I went down into Havasu?fourteen miles by trail?and looked things over. When I returned five weeks later I discovered that the others had gone on to Los Angeles without me.

When guns are outlawed, only the Government will have guns. The Government - and a few outlaws. If that happens, you can count me among the outlaws.

Where all think alike there is little danger of innovation.

Now I am in the open again, out of the underworld. From up here Rainbow Bridge, a thousand feet below, is only a curving ridge of sandstone of no undue importance, a tiny object lost in the vastness and intricacy of the canyon systems which radiate from the base of Navajo Mountain?. Off in the east an isolated storm is boiling over the desert, a mass of lavender clouds bombarding the earth with lightning and trailing curtains of rain. The distance is so great that I cannot hear the thunder. Between here and there and me and the mountains it?s the canyon wilderness, the hoodoo land of spire and pillar and pinnacle where no man lives, and where the river flows, unseen, through the blue-black trenches in the rock.

One wishes to go on. On this great river one could glide forever ? and here we discover the definition of bliss, salvation, Heaven, all the old Mediterranean dreams: a journey from wonder to wonder, drifting through eternity into ever-deeper, always changing grandeur, through beauty continually surpassing itself: the ultimate Homeric voyage.

Our 'neoconservatives' are neither new nor conservative, but old as Babylon and evil as Hell.

Preacher to me: 'A dollar for the Lord, brother?' Me to preacher: 'That's all right, I'm headed his way. I'll give it to him when I see him.'

Roosters: The cry of the male chicken is the most barbaric yawp in all of nature.

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