Last modified on 2 November 2014, at 03:41

Edward Abbey

I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my intimations of glory to the singing stars, to the very end of space and time.
Heaven is home. Utopia is here. Nirvana is now.

Edward Paul Abbey (29 January 192714 March 1989) was an American writer noted for his advocacy of environmental issues and criticism of public land policies.

See also:
Lonely Are the Brave (1962 film, based on his 1956 novel The Brave Cowboy)

QuotesEdit

An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.
  • Guns don't kill people; people kill people. Of course, people with guns kill more people. But that's only natural. It's hard. But it's fair.
    • Abbey's Road in In Defense of the Redneck (1979), p. 168.
  • We're all undesirable elements from somebody's point of view.
    • Abbey's Road (1979)
  • The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. Not for nothing was the revolver called an "equalizer." Egalite implies liberte. And always will. Let us hope our weapons are never needed — but do not forget what the common people of this nation knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny.
    • Abbey's Road (1979)
  • My loyalties will not be bound by national borders, or confined in time by one nation's history, or limited in the spiritual dimension by one language and culture. I pledge my allegiance to the damned human race, and my everlasting love to the green hills of Earth, and my intimations of glory to the singing stars, to the very end of space and time.
    • Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951-1989 (1994) p. 92
  • One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.
    • From a speech to environmentalists in Missoula, Montana, and in Colorado, which was published in High Country News, (24 September 1976), under the title "Joy, Shipmates, Joy!", as quoted in Saving Nature's Legacy : Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity (1994) by Reed F. Noss, Allen Y. Cooperrider, and Rodger Schlickeisen, p. 338 ISBN 1559632488

Desert Solitaire (1968)Edit

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (1968) [Univ. of Ariz. Press edition, 1988] ISBN 0671695886
This is the most beautiful place on earth.
There are many such places.
Where there is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless.
Balance, that's the secret. Moderate extremism.
  • May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you — beyond that next turning of the canyon walls.
    • Preface (dated June 1987) for 1988 reprint of Desert Solitaire
  • 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.
    • "The First Morning", p. 1
  • I'd sooner exchange ideas with the birds on earth than learn to carry on intergalactic communications with some obscure race of humanoids on a satellite planet from the world of Betelgeuse.
    • "The First Morning", p. 7
  • I'm a humanist; I'd rather kill a man than a snake.
    • "Serpents of Paradise", p. 18
  • All living things on earth are kindred.
    • "Serpents of Paradise", p. 22
  • I hold no preference among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous. (Bricks to all greenhouses! Black thumb and cutworm to the potted plant!)
    • "Cliffrose and Bayonets", p. 25
  • Love flowers best in openness and freedom.
    • "Cliffrose and Bayonets", p. 26
  • Each thing in its way, when true to its own character, is equally beautiful.
    • "Cliffrose and Bayonets", p. 37
  • A great thirst is a great joy when quenched in time.
    • "Water", p. 104
  • Has joy any survival value in the operations of evolution? I suspect that it does; I suspect that the morose and fearful are doomed to quick extinction. Where there is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless.
    • "Water", p. 113; this is often quoted as simply: Without courage, all other virtues are useless.
  • Growth for the sake of growth is a cancerous madness.
    • "Water", p. 114
  • We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may not ever need to go there.
    • "The Heart of Noon", p. 116
  • But the love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see. Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us — if only we were worthy of it.
    • "Down the River", p. 147
  • When I write "paradise" I mean not only apple trees and golden women but also scorpions and tarantulas and flies, rattlesnakes and Gila monsters, sandstorms, volcanoes and earthquakes, bacteria and bear, cactus, yucca, bladderweed, ocotillo and mesquite, flash floods and quicksand, and yes — disease and death and the rotting of flesh.
    • "Down the River", p. 147
  • Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
    • "Down the River", p. 148
  • I am not an atheist but an earthiest.
    • "Down the River", p. 163
  • 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.
    • "The Dead Man at Grandview Point", p. 186
  • Balance, that's the secret. Moderate extremism.
    • "Bedrock and Paradox", p. 233
  • To make the distinction unmistakably clear: Civilization is the vital force in human history; culture is that inert mass of institutions and organizations which accumulate around and tend to drag down the advance of life; Civilization is Giordano Bruno facing death by fire; culture is the Cardinal Bellarmino, after ten years of inquisition, sending Bruno to the stake in the Campo di Fiori; Civilization is Sartre; culture Cocteau; Civilization is mutual aid and self-defense; culture is the judge, the lawbook and the forces of Law & Ordure (sic); Civilization is uprising, insurrection, revolution; culture is the war of state against state, or of machines against people, as in Hungary and Vietnam; Civilization is tolerance, detachment and humor, or passion, anger, revenge; culture is the entrance examination, the gas chamber, the doctoral dissertation and the electric chair; Civilization is the Ukrainian peasant Nestor Makhno fighting the Germans, then the Reds, then the Whites, then the Reds again; culture is Stalin and the Fatherland; Civilization is Jesus turning water into wine; culture is Christ walking on the waves; Civilization is a youth with a Molotov cocktail in his hand; culture is the Soviet tank or the L.A. cop that guns him down; Civilization is the wild river; culture, 592,000 tons of cement; Civilization flows; culture thickens and coagulates, like tired, sick, stifled blood.
    • "Episodes and Visions", p. 308

The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975)Edit

The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) ISBN 0060956445
My job is to save the fucking wilderness. I don't know anything else worth saving.
  • My job is to save the fucking wilderness. I don't know anything else worth saving.
  • He recalled Dr. Sarvis' favorite apothegm: When the situation is hopeless, there's nothing to worry about.
    • page 294
  • We know this apodictic rock beneath our feet. That dogmatic sun above our heads. The world of dreams, the agony of love and the foresight of death. That is all we know. And all we need to know? Challenge that statement.
    • page 312
  • One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain't nothing can beat teamwork.
    • Seldom Seen Smith, page 313

The Journey Home (1977)Edit

The Journey Home : Some Words in Defense of the American West (1977) ISBN 0452265622
The earth, like the sun, like the air, belongs to everyone — and to no one.
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 idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.
The earth will survive our most ingenious folly.
  • All we have, it seems to me, is the beauty of art and nature and life, and the love which that beauty inspires.
    • “Fire Lookout: Numa Ridge”, p. 57
  • Come on in. The earth, like the sun, like the air, belongs to everyone — and to no one.
    • “Come On In”, p. 88
  • "The city itself swung slowly toward us silent as a dream. No sign of life but puffs of steam from skyscraper chimneys, the motion of the traffic. The mighty towers stood like tombstones in a graveyard, leaning against the sky and waiting for -- for what? Someday we'll know."
    • "Manhattan Twilight, Hoboken Night", p. 98
  • Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.
    • "The Second Rape of the West" p. 183
  • Of course I litter the public highway. Every chance I get. After all, it's not the beer cans that are ugly; it's the highway that is ugly.
    • "The Second Rape of the West," The Journey Home, 1977
  • As for the "solitary confinement of the mind," my theory is that solipsism, like other absurdities of the professional philosopher, is a product of too much time wasted in library stacks between the covers of a book, in smoke-filled coffeehouses (bad for brains) and conversation-clogged seminars. To refute the solipsist or the metaphysical idealist all that you have to do is take him out and throw a rock at his head: if he ducks he's a liar. His logic may be airtight but his argument, far from revealing the delusions of living experience, only exposes the limitations of logic.
    • p. 121
  • 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.
    • On the Colorado River, in “Down the River with Major Powell”, p. 201
  • The longest journey begins with a single step, not with the turn of an ignition key. That’s the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn’t much matter whether you get where you’re going or not. You’ll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home. Right where you started.
    • “Walking” p. 205
  • 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 and anyone can transport himself anywhere, instantly. Big deal, Buckminster. To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.
    • "Walking", p. 205
  • Knowing now what we have learned, unless the need were urgent, I could no more sink the blade of an ax into the tissues of a living tree than I could drive it into the flesh of a fellow human.
    • "The Crooked Wood", p. 208
  • I understand and sympathize with the reasonable needs of a reasonable number of people on a finite continent. All life depends upon other life. But what is happening today, in North America, is not rational use but irrational massacre. Man the Pest, multiplied to the swarming stage, is attacking the remaining forests like a plague of locusts on a field of grain.
    • “The Crooked Wood” p. 208
  • The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.
    • "Shadows from the Big Woods", p. 223
  • The earth is not a mechanism but an organism, a being with its own life and its own reasons, where the support and sustenance of the human animal is incidental. If man in his newfound power and vanity persists in the attempt to remake the planet in his own image, he will succeed only in destroying himself — not the planet. The earth will survive our most ingenious folly.
    • “Shadows from the Big Woods”, p. 225

Down the River (1982)Edit

Down the River (1982) ISBN 0525484086
Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.
  • Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.
  • [Concerning river runners:] If we were going into war again I can't think of any I'd rather have on our side. I mean, all of these good men and women. And if they were on the other side I'd join the other side.
  • Love can defeat that nameless terror. Loving one another, we take the sting from death. Loving our mysterious blue planet, we resolve riddles and dissolve all enigmas in contingent bliss.
  • I would give ten years off the beginning of my life to see, only once, Tyrannosaurus rex come rearing up from the elms of Central Park, a Morgan police horse screaming in its jaws. We can never have enough of nature.

Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside (1984)Edit

  • Beyond the wall of the unreal city … there is another world waiting for you. It is the old true world of the deserts, the mountains, the forests, the islands, the shores, the open plains. Go there. Be there. Walk gently and quietly deep within it. And then —

    May your trails be dim, lonesome, stony, narrow, winding and only slightly uphill. May the wind bring rain for the slickrock potholes fourteen miles on the other side of yonder blue ridge. May God's dog serenade your campfire, may the rattlesnake and the screech owl amuse your reverie, may the Great Sun dazzle your eyes by day and the Great Bear watch over you by night.

    • "Preface" (dated October 1983), pages xvi-xvii
  • If the life of natural things, millions of years old, does not seem sacred to us, then what can be sacred? Human vanity alone? Contempt for the natural world implies contempt for life. The domination of nature leads to the domination of human nature.
    • "A Walk in the Desert Hills", page 44
  • I once sat on the rim of a mesa above the Rio Grande for three days and nights, trying to have a vision. I got hungry and saw God in the form of a beef pie.
    • "How It Was", page 55
  • There's beauty, heartbreaking beauty, everywhere.
    • "The Ancient Dust", page 153
  • I am delighted, one more time, by the daring of my species and the audacity of our flying machines. There is poetry and music in our technology, a beauty as touching as that of eagle, moss campion, raven or yonder limestone boulder shining under the Arctic sun.
    • "Gather at the River", page 164

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto) (1990)Edit

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis en Deserto) : Notes from a Secret Journal (1990) ISBN 0312064888
From the point of view of a tapeworm, man was created by God to serve the appetite of the tapeworm.
A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
If wilderness is outlawed, only outlaws can save wilderness.
  • When the biggest, richest, glassiest buildings in town are the banks, you know that town's in trouble.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 97
  • Most academic economists know nothing of economy. In fact, they know little of anything.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 97
  • One thing more dangerous than getting between a grizzly sow and her cub is getting between a businessman and a dollar bill.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 97
  • Capitalism: Nothing so mean could be right. Greed is the ugliest of the capital sins.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
  • 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.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
  • With the neutron bomb, which destroys life but not property, capitalism has found the weapon of its dreams.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
  • There is no force more potent in the modern world than stupidity fueled by greed.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
  • Nothing could be older than the daily news, nothing deader than yesterday's newspaper.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
  • Among politicians and businessman, Pragmatism is the current term for "To hell with our children."
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
  • Business: Busyness.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
  • The plow has probably done more harm — in the long run — than the sword.
    • Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
  • Whatever we cannot easily understand we call God; this saves much wear and tear on the brain tissues.
  • From the point of view of a tapeworm, man was created by God to serve the appetite of the tapeworm.
  • According to the current doctrines of mysticoscientism, we human animals are really and actually nothing but "organic patterns of nodular energy composed of collocations of infinitesimal points oscillating on the multi-dimensional coordinates of the space-time continuum." I'll have to think about that. Sometime. Meantime, I'm going to gnaw on this sparerib, drink my Blatz beer, and contemplate the a posteriori coordinates of that young blonde over yonder, the one in the tennis skirt, tying her shoelaces.
  • Orthodoxy is a relaxation of the mind accompanied by a stiffening of the heart.
  • Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.
  • The distrust of wit is the beginning of tyranny.
  • No tyranny is so irksome as petty tyranny: the officious demands of policemen, government clerks, and electromechanical gadgets.
  • A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
  • Anarchism is not a romantic fable but the hardheaded realization, based on five thousand years of experience, that we cannot entrust the management of our lives to kings, priests, politicians, generals, and county commissioners.
  • Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.
  • In a nation of sheep, one brave man forms a majority.
  • The more corrupt a society, the more numerous its laws.
  • Freedom begins between the ears.
  • The "Terror" of the French Revolution lasted for ten years. The terror that preceded and led to it lasted for a thousand years.
  • Counterpart to the knee-jerk liberal is the new knee-pad conservative, always groveling before the rich and powerful.
  • What's the difference between a whore and a congressman? A congressman makes more money.
  • When the situation is hopeless, there's nothing to worry about.
  • Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.
  • An empty man is full of himself.
  • I come more and more to the conclusion that wilderness, in America or anywhere else, is the only thing left that is worth saving.
  • If wilderness is outlawed, only outlaws can save wilderness.
  • The only thing worse than a knee-jerk liberal is a knee-pad conservative.
  • God is a sound people make when they're too tired to think anymore.
  • Hierarchical institutions are like giant bulldozers — obedient to the whim of any fool who takes the controls.
  • If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a Juniper tree or the wings of a vulture-that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about: