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Nature writing: Abbey

by Barnhill, David L. last modified Aug 31, 2010 10:51 AM

Abbey was a great nature writer, novelist, and defender of the wilderness. And as prickly as a cactus.

     “There’s only one thing wrong with always fighting for freedom, and justice, and decency. And so forth.”
      Burns looks up at the blazing sky. “Only one thing? What’s that?
      “You almost always lose.”
      The old man laughs, reaches out, and squeezes Sam’s near arm. “Well, hellfire, Sam, what does that have to do with it?”
--Edward Abbey, Good News, 222

The defendants impressed me not so much with what they had to say as with their manner. They are happy people, these crusaders, at ease with themselves and with others, radiant with conviction, liberated by their own volition from the tedious routine, and passive acquiescence in which most of us endure our brief, half-lived, half-lives. One single act of defiance against power, against the State that seems omnipotent but is not, transforms and transfigures the human personality. At least for a time. For a while. Perhaps that is enough.
--Edward Abbey, Down the River, “Of Protest,” 108

Can one man derail a train with nothing but his will? Can a few thousand human beings armed with nothing but audacity and purpose bring to a halt the mighty freight train of government, industry, power, war, that overwhelming vision of a future charged by pride and ambition? The only answer we know is the most comforting and terrifying of answers: anything is possible.
--Edward Abbey, Down the River, “Of Protest,” 109

How defend the ideal of wilderness? The wilderness idea needs no defense – only more defenders.
--Edward Abbey, Down the River, “Thus I reply to Rene Dubos,” 119-120

Recorded history is largely an account of the crimes & disasters committed by banal little men at the levers of imperial machines.
--Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness, 25



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by Barnhill, David L. last modified Aug 31, 2010 10:51 AM