Edward Abbey

I found this book to be very entertaining as well as enriching.  I love that Abbey started off this book warning people that they may not like it.  He knew he would be getting into people’s heads with this one.  He also stated in the introduction that one will never be able to see what he has seen without getting out of their car and walking (or even crawling) to some location.

I like that he starts off the book with a personification of the area around him, then goes back and says that this is exactly what he wants to change.  He says he wants to ‘see nature as it is in itself, devoid of all humanly ascribed qualities, anti-Kantian, even the categories of scientific description.’  He wants to see nature as it really is, insead of from the eyes of a human being who’s lived with societal norms his entire life.  Once, he even lays down on the ground just to understand the snakes point of view.  He also calls this desert ‘totally useless, quite unprofitable.’  This is how it should be.  It is a desert.  It shouldn’t be exploited for it’s land (which actually does end up happening).

I think my favorite quote from this book would have to be, “sandstorm or sunshine I am content, so long as I have something to eat, good health, the earth to take my stand on, and light behind my eyes to see by.”  I believe one should learn more from Edward Abbey and actually live by his words.  Thoreau says in Walden that all of this technology and stuff we don’t need simply makes us a regressed society, because we depend on these things in our daily lives.  He would called our society a regressed one because, “they are the most helpless and diseased because they are the most dependable.”  We depend on much more than we should.  To live simply would be much progress, according to Thoreau.  I think Abbey would completely agree with this.  I also found it interesting how much Abbey actually does relate to Thoreau in some other instances as well.

One other instance is on page 41, when Abbey is speaking of stoning a rabbit to death.  Although Thoreau disagrees with killing animals, he enjoys seeing dead animals lying around because it will provide life for the others that come about and feast upon the animal.  When Abbey kills this rabbit he thinks of the animals that will come clean up what he has left.  He talks about how he is now one with nature, a part of their world.

My favorite chapter was the one that discussed the roads being built by his cabin.  The man began explaining to Abbey that the road was needed in this area.  Of course, you can probably guess what Abbey was thinking.  Who needs a road?  People have feet, bikes, etc.  Abbey just didn’t understand this concept of needing a road for cars to drive into the area.  I love in this chapter when he begins to talk about how the park rangers should be put to work.  He explains how the park rangers will be the leaders and will know how to do just about everything a ‘normal’ person wouldn’t.

 Abbey is simply trying to provoke thought in people and trying to help people realize that we do not need all these luxuries to be able to have beautiful experiences.  He lives in a cabin, in the desert, alone and he is a very happy man that has amazing experiences on a daily basis.  If we were all just to live a little more like this, I think society wouldn’t be as completely messed up as it is.  Maybe our suicide and depression rates would even decrease a little because the happiness of the country would increase.

Qestions:

  • I Edward Abbey some kind of hero?  Or is he just another guy trying to live the dream?
  • How is Edward Abbey living a natural life and why do you think he enjoys it so much?
  • Is the cost of all the roads and construction really worth the time when people could simply walk to this area? 

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