Desert Solitaire

I did some reading about Edward Abbey on the Wikipedia and found some really interesting stuff. Abbey’s views caused controversy among most people regardless of political views. Even environmental activists did not approve of many of Abbey’s methods or ideas. this picture is already on the page, but i like it a lot


I guess the television could eventually, and in a way already is  part of Abbey’s idea of industrial tourism. Instead of having to drive to a destination to look at it, the television provides a view from the sofa. Abbey’s chapter on industrial tourism was a very interesting one. At one point he says that people are born suckling from the gas tank. There is so much truth to this statement, probably even more so today than when this book was written. Making things easier seemed to be the backbone of this industrial tourism and almost everything we do today. Faster and easier options are always being discovered. With the Arches National Monument as an example, I would much rather have the full experience of hiking into the park to see the arches. Driving up to any site lacks the sense of accomplishment upon arrival.

While reading Desert Solitaire I though about if I would be able to do what Abbey did. Having little to no social interaction would drive me crazy. I don’t watch television, but living without a computer would be a little rough for me. Maybe some separation from technology would be beneficial to me. Sure, getting some isolation from society is great, but in Abbey even said, “the only thing better than solitude , is society” (p. 121).

One small theme that I picked up on, or possibly made up in my head, was the absence of a god or higher being in the desert. Roy, the man Abbey did some work for, was a strong believer that there was no god. The desert landscape is barren and doesn’t show much life. Because the area is so desolate and “lifeless” I completely understand why deserts would be lacking a god. Often the desert is a miserable place to be, with high temperatures during the day and low temperatures at night. If there is some sort of god looking down on the desert it probably hates it. I feel Abbey’s views about a higher being were a negative one. He mentions philosophy numerous times, and philosophers are notorious non believers.

Abbey’s building of a ramada away from his trailers made me chuckle a little bit. The idea of getting isolation from isolation is a strange concept for me. For me, being so far away from people in the middle of nowhere, and having only a trailer to show a sign of the civilized world in the national park would be enough for me.


Would Abbey still be considered an extreme radical today?

Does the revenue brought into the national parks by the roads really help the parks, considering the negative impacts of so many visitors?

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