Desert Solitaire

Like last week I wasn’t familiar with the natural settings in this area, I was under the assumption that this was to take place in the typical desert, sand and dirt with little land height variations, and couldn’t understand how you could write an entire book about it. Reading through the introduction and looking at pictures of the Arches National Monument park then proceeding past the first few chapters I saw how interesting and special an area this was, as well as having a significant history it also had a resounding beauty that Abbey did well in describing.

History seemed to be an important aspect as Abbey spent a couple chapters discussing the natural history as well as the human history with the surrounding areas. I was very surprised to learn that there was a similar “gold rush” in this area but instead of something we typically value as a society companies were looking for a much more dangerous rock. However, before the history of mining in the area I was also surprised (and agreed with) Abbey’s detailed look at how modernization of the park was occurring, specifically found the line “are men no better than sheep or cattle, that they must live always in view of one another in order to feel a sense of safety?” (72), I thought it tied in well to the discussion last week of how national parks were turning into amusement parks, that everything was predetermined where you walk, camp, eat, and relive yourself.

Something else I found particularly interesting was Abbey’s continued discussion of loneliness and how he found various ways of coping with it.  At the start of the book it was the mice and later a gopher snake (although it served for a secondary purpose too)  and in later parts of the book it was nature, that he would sit outside to be accompanied by nature.  I found this intriguing because Ive done this couple times, where its early in the morning and having a sense of being not being alone eating outside.

Discussion:

Abbey’s ideas on keeping natures parks more “natural”, limiting roads and such, just thoughts on his ideas that started on page 65.

Playing off the former idea, Abbey states that the area is totally useless and unprofitable, yet we see desert settlements like Vegas and the park now with an increased revenue since his departure. Is this area of land worthless and unprofitable? Does it serve any use to humans?

Thoughts on the story of the Husk family, that in contradiction to the Meadowlands, this land had value in mining resources yet at the same time the ability to destroy human relations, where as the opposite held true to Meadowlands, so is a “more worthless” land better or worse for human purposes/relations?

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