Edward Abbey

Abbey's Road

Don't talk to me about other worlds, separate realities, lost continents, or invisible realms--I know where I belong. Heaven is home. Utopia is here. Nirvana is now.

Desert Solitaire

I am here not only to evade for a while the clamor and filth and confusion of the cultural apparatus but also to confront, immediately and directly if it's possible, the bare bones of existence, the elemental and fundamental, the bedrock which sustains us. I want to be able to look at and into a juniper tree, a piece of quartz, a vulture, a spider, and see it as it is in itself, devoid of all humanly ascribed qualities, anti-Katan, even the categories of scientific description. To meet God or Medusa face-to-face, even if it means risking everything human in myself. I dream of a hard and brutal mysticism in which the naked self merges with a non-human world and yet somehow survives still intact, individual, separate. Paradox and bedrock.

I wait. Now the night flows back, the mighty stillness embraces and includes me; I can see the stars again and the world of starlight. I am twenty miles or more from the nearest fellow human, but instead of loneliness I feel loveliness. Loveliness and a quiet exultation.

I prefer not to kill animals. I'm a humanist; I'd rather kill a man than a snake.

Like a living caduceus [Gopher snakes] wind and unwind about each other in undulant, graceful, perpetual motion, moving slowly across a dome of sandstone. Invisible, but tangible as music is the passion which joins them...

It seems to me possible, even probable, that many of the non-human undomesticated animals experience emotions unknown to us. What do the coyotes mean when they yodel at the moon? What are the dolphins trying so patiently to tell us? Precisely what did those two enraptured gopher snakes have in mind when they came gliding toward my eyes over the naked sandstone? If I had been as capable of trust as I am susceptible to fear I might have learned something new or some truth so very old we have all forgotten it.

A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like the Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us--like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness--that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. For a little while we are again able to see, as a 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 Monkey Wrench Gang

I'm tired of people who don't do any harm. I'm tired of soft weak passive people who can't do anything or make anything.

I am a veritable unicorn of love. --Doc Sarvis

Seldom Seen Smith, where are your pants?

One man alone can be pretty stupid sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity there ain't nothing that can beat teamwork.

Hayduke schemes and dreams and cannot sleep. Too tired to sleep. Too hungry, angry, excited and fearful to sleep. It appears to him that only one obstacle remains between himself and a wilderness autumn and winter down in the maze, down there where he can lose himself at last, forget himself for good, become pure predator dedicated to nothing but survival, nothing but the clean hard bright pursuit of the game. The ultimate world, he thinks, or rather dreams, the final world of meat, blood, fire, water, rock, wood, sun, wind, sky, night, cold, dawn, warmth, life. Those short blunt, and irreducible words which stand for almost everything he thinks he has lost. Or never really had. And loneliness? Loneliness? Is that all he has to fear?

If you don't drink, don't drive. If you drink, drive like hell. Why? Because freedom, not safety, is the highest good. Because the public roads should be wide open to all--children on tricycles, little old ladies in Eisenhower Plymouths, homicidal lesbians driving forty-ton Mack tractor-trailers. Let us have no favorites, no licenses, no goddamn rules for the road. Let every freeway be a free-for-all.

The reason there are so many people on the river these days is because there are too many people everywhere else. The wilderness once offered men a plausible way of life. Now it functions as a psychiatric refuge. Soon there will be no wilderness. Soon there will be no place to go. Then the madness becomes universal. And the universe goes mad. We are caught in the iron treads of a technological juggernaut. A mindless machine. With a breeder reactor for a heart. A planetary industrialism growing like a cancer. Growth for the sake of growth. Power for the sake of power.

...so he thought. So he felt. The sensation of freedom was exhilarating, though tinged with a shade of loneliness, a touch of sorrow. The old dream of total independence, beholden to no man and no woman, floated above his days like smoke from a pipe dream, like a silver cloud with a dark lining. For even Hayduke sensed, when he faced the thing directly, that the total loner would go insane. Was insane. Somewhere in the depths of solitude, beyond wilderness and freedom, lay the trap of madness.

The doctor was thinking: All this fantastic effort--giant machines, road networks, strip mines, conveyor belts, pipelines, slurry lines, loading towers, railway and electric train, hundred-million-dollar coal-burning power plants; ten thousand miles of high tension towers and high voltage power lines; the devastation of the landscape, the destruction of Indian Shrines and Indian burial grounds; the poisoning of the last big clean air reservoir in the forty-eight contiguous United States, the exhaustion of precious water supplies--all that ball breaking labor and all that backbreaking expense and all that heartbreaking insult to land and sky and human heart, for what? All that for what? Why, to light the lamps of Phoenix suburbs not yet built, to run the air conditioners of San Diego and Los Angeles, to illuminate shopping-center parking lots at two in the morning, to power aluminum plants, magnesium plants, vinyl chloride factories and copper smelters, to charge the neon tubing that makes the meaning (all the meaning there is) of Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Tucscon, Salt Lake City, the amalgamated metropoli of Southern California, to keep alive that phosphorescent putrefying glory (all the glory there is left) called Down Town, Night Time, Wonderville, U.S.A.