Readings: Desert Solitaire- Sayan Ghosal

This book characterizes the landscape of what is the great American South-West in all its flair and glamor. The author has portrayed a vivid picture of the landscape and the surrounding region through his summer experiences in the Arches National Park in Utah over three years into this one scintillating read.

The book shows Abbey’s vivid narrations of the place and elaborately mentions his frustration and resentment of tourism that he mentioned graced the place in his third summer with their automobile culture that stole away from the natural landscape and beauty. This dichotomy of being the intrepid observer and nature lover whilst marking other tourists as desecrators that the author represents is an interesting feature in the book.

Abbey’s hatred for the industrial complex that has encroached on the land without care or consideration the failing of our kind and cited the Glen Canyon dam as the ‘original sin’, recalling rafting trips in the Colorado river with his friend. The author narrates the trip in great detail offering the reader a true feel for the place and the mysticism and adventure that hangs in the air in many such places.

The book clearly represents Abbey’s physical and emotional journey into his wilderness and shows the reader the implicit fear of the naturalist for commercialization and governmental legislation. Abbey mentions how he is not an atheist but an earthiest and highlights the sense of untouched wilderness that he holds so close to his heart but finds lacking in its essence in this ever changing ecologic and social scenario that is the 21st century.

It is Abbey’s understanding that in the unknown of the wilderness and the untamed nature of the wild lies the mystery of the spirit of the earth.



Discussion Questions:

1. How much human interaction should be allowed in designated areas of natural beauty and significance?

2. Are humans, and the modern tourist drive even supposed to be allowed to enter these places at all? Is any interaction with nature even educational in its intent ecologically sustainable?

3. What impacts may a depleting environment and tighter legislation have on the conservation of the planet if most don’t get to experience the surroundings for themselves?






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