Primal Existence…Desert Solitaire

“Alone in the silence, I understand for a moment the dread which many feel in the presence of primeval desert, the unconscious fear which compels them to tame, alter or destroy what they cannot understand, to reduce the wild and prehuman to human dimensions. Anything rather than confront directly the antehuman, that other world which frightens not through danger or hostility but in something far worse—its implacable indifference”(91).

Abbey describes that natural world of deserts and how they are completely different worlds from societies most people in this country are a part of.  He describes how the desert evokes different emotions in people. in the quote above, abbey discusses the fear that the primeval desert instills into the human mind. it is not a traditional idea of fear however. its not a fear of being harmed, but rather a fear of something that is unknown or even unfathomable. he is discussing how humans want to tame and diminish the unpredictability of something they do not know or cannot fully understand.


“I walk out onto a point from which I can look down at the river, nearly straight below…. From up here the sound of the river, until now a permanent part of my auditory background, is no longer perceptible, and the desert silence takes on a deeper dimension. The sound of nothingness? ‘In the desert,’ wrote Balzac, somewhere, ‘there is all and there is nothing. God is there and man is not.’”

I really enjoyed reading about the spirituality in nature. i feel that when alone in nature, one can truly appreciate their surroundings of pure wilderness. it is so easy to forget about everything but your surroundings and to make a personal connection with the environment directly around you. you can think deeply about how you are connected to this environment and how you impact this environment and how it impacts you. this can lead to deeper thoughts of how nature was meant to used by humans, if there even are ways the nature is supposed to be used. you can see the true beauty of everything around you and feel pure interconnection with your surroundings.


“The new dam, of course will improve things. If ever filled it will back water to within sight of the Bridge, transforming what was formerly an adventure into a routine motorboat excursion. Those who see it then will not understand that half the beauty of Rainbow Bridge lay in its remoteness, its relative difficulty of access, and in the wilderness surrounding it, of which it was an integral part. When these aspects are removed the Bridge will be no more than an isolated geological oddity, an extension of that museumlike diorama to which industrial tourism tends to reduce the natural world”(192).

It is very interesting to read about the convergence of modern society and nature. the implementation of infrastructure such as bridges and dams definitely do take a bit away from the complete natural beauty of the wilderness, but sometimes they are of extreme necessity. it is sad yes, but i feel as long as these projects intrude minimally and are of utmost necessity they should not be completely frowned upon. i do understand Abbey’s point in saying that the dam will bring the wilderness too close to the masses. it will take away from the true remoteness that adds greatly to the beauty of the wilderness. people will not respect it for its untouched beauty if it is an every day sight.

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