Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Rambling Man – Edward Abbey

The folks that came before us were not saints or noble people. But some of them did noble or heroic things. Even deep in their imperfections.

Edward Abbey had a profound love of the land. He also had an equal hatred for what humans have done to natural resources. His books Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang inspired generations of eco-activists who believed they found a vent for their frustrations.

Edward Abbey was certainly no saint. As a writer, you could never accuse him of using politically correct speech in his books or his personal life.
  • "Society is like a stew. If you don't keep it stirred up, you get a lot of scum on top."
  • "God is love? Not bloody likely."
  • "Our "neo-conservatives" are neither new nor conservative, but old as Babylon and evil
  • as Hell."
Abbey offended people. He ticked of critics, the government, and activists in the ecological movement. If you can get past the gruff and read the substance of his work (not always easy or possible) you might find yourself enriched.

Quotes from The Late Edward Abbey - Beloved Desert Anarchist

A very good place to start is Abbey Web – a fan tribute site that gives you an overview of his life and his death. There is something to be said about a man who wants his decomposing body to nourish cactus -

Ken Sleight has a touching tribute to his friend and mentor –

When a writer is doing his or her job correctly, it will stir people into movement from across time and space. I leave you with a passage from Mr. Abbey.

Take it to heart:
"Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am. A reluctant enthusiast and part-time crusader. A half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the west. It is even more important to enjoy it while you can, while it's still there. So get out there, hunt, fish, mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forest, encounter the grit, climb a mountain, bag the peaks, run the rivers,breathe deep of that yet sweet and elusive air.
Sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness of the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves. Keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive. And I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk bound people with their hearts in safe deposit boxes and their eyes hypnotized by their desk calculators.
I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards."

Edward Abbey, 1978

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