Man, that got weird. I feel a part of myself dying – or perhaps mourning as I begin exploring the thoughts of Edward Abbey in the preface of Desert Solitaire. Every mention of the mountains, of Utah, of the death of his 1956 America, sends pangs of sorrow throughout my chest. I sit in resentment toward Ohio, longing to go back west, to experience the ‘sublime’ as we have defined it, in the mountain ranges that sing and tower there.
“Of course I am a nature lover – only a fool could not be – nature being our mother, our father, our bride, our wife our source of life, sustenance, of all well-being, final repository of our bones”
What a romantic view, and the view I hold as well. Our mother who nourishes us, our father who teaches us discipline, patience, and anger, our bride that fills us with an incredible love, passion, and compassion, who makes us surrender, and our wife, who we may eventually grow weary of if we spend too much time in her presence.
“It’s not enough to understand nature; the point is to save it.”
What is saving nature, anyway?
“… victims of industrial tourism” rather than participants. As if we are just sheep being lead to the slaughter that is this industrial tourism. We are provided with too many opportunities to indulge in our laziness. An evil? A good? Who are we to say, anyway, that someone cannot access a land because of a disability? Or because of a laziness? Is it truly a right to be able to visit these lands on whatever terms the individual sees fit? Or is it the individual’s responsibility to adhere to the terms of the land? I believe it is the latter. We are to adhere to the land, the land is not to adhere it us. It was here before us, and hopefully (if we stop demanding from it) it will be here after us. Why is everything driven by money? Obviously, it is because of the history our society is laid upon, but why can’t this change? Why hasn’t this changed?
This book is confrontational and confusing. Beginning so romantically and with hints of nihilism but descending into the blatant reality of what has come and what is to come. Pulling my emotions back and forth. Starting with a romantic point of view, the realistic descent only creates more anger after feeling so deeply, as abbey does, for these landscapes. And who are we anyway? To have jurisdiction over these lands. To make these decisions. We are nothing, no one, in comparison to this Earth. Yet we sit and debate and question these things. The nihilist in me shouts, as the La Dispute song I played on repeat after losing my first love, “but then again, what’s the point anyway?”