Edward Abbey quotes

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Edward Abbey

Birthdate: 29. January 1927
Date of death: 14. March 1989

Edward Paul Abbey was an American author and essayist noted for his advocacy of environmental issues, criticism of public land policies, and anarchist political views. His best-known works include the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which has been cited as an inspiration by environmental and eco-terrorist groups, and the non-fiction work Desert Solitaire.

Works

Desert Solitaire
Desert Solitaire
Edward Abbey
Down the River
Down the River
Edward Abbey
Hayduke Lives
Hayduke Lives
Edward Abbey

„All we have, it seems to me, is the beauty of art and nature and life, and the love which that beauty inspires.“

—  Edward Abbey

“Fire Lookout: Numa Ridge”, p. 57
The Journey Home (1977)
Source: The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West

„A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.“

—  Edward Abbey

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto) (1990)

„Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.“

—  Edward Abbey

A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto) (1990)

„The domination of nature leads to the domination of human nature.“

—  Edward Abbey

"A Walk in the Desert Hills", page 44
Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside (1984)
Context: If the life of natural things, millions of years old, does not seem sacred to us, then what can be sacred? Human vanity alone? Contempt for the natural world implies contempt for life. The domination of nature leads to the domination of human nature.

„The longest journey begins with a single step, not with the turn of an ignition key.“

—  Edward Abbey

“Walking” p. 205
The Journey Home (1977)
Context: The longest journey begins with a single step, not with the turn of an ignition key. That’s the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn’t much matter whether you get where you’re going or not. You’ll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home. Right where you started.

„Every good hike brings you eventually back home. Right where you started.“

—  Edward Abbey

“Walking” p. 205
The Journey Home (1977)
Context: The longest journey begins with a single step, not with the turn of an ignition key. That’s the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn’t much matter whether you get where you’re going or not. You’ll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home. Right where you started.

„The industrial way of life leads to the industrial way of death.“

—  Edward Abbey

Source: A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto) (1990), Ch. 11 : Money Et Cetera, p. 100
Context: The industrial way of life leads to the industrial way of death. From Shiloh to Dachau, from Antietam to Stalingrad, from Hiroshima to Vietnam and Afghanistan, the great specialty of industry and technology has been the mass production of human corpses.

„I hold no preference among flowers, so long as they are wild, free, spontaneous.“

—  Edward Abbey, book Desert Solitaire

Bricks to all greenhouses! Black thumb and cutworm to the potted plant!
"Cliffrose and Bayonets", p. 25
Desert Solitaire (1968)

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„The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy.“

—  Edward Abbey

Abbey's Road (1979)
Context: The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. Not for nothing was the revolver called an "equalizer." Egalite implies liberte. And always will. Let us hope our weapons are never needed — but do not forget what the common people of this nation knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny.

„Civilization is the vital force in human history; culture is that inert mass of institutions and organizations which accumulate around and tend to drag down the advance of life“

—  Edward Abbey, book Desert Solitaire

"Episodes and Visions", p. 308
Desert Solitaire (1968)
Context: To make the distinction unmistakably clear: Civilization is the vital force in human history; culture is that inert mass of institutions and organizations which accumulate around and tend to drag down the advance of life; Civilization is Giordano Bruno facing death by fire; culture is the Cardinal Bellarmino, after ten years of inquisition, sending Bruno to the stake in the Campo di Fiori; Civilization is Sartre; culture Cocteau; Civilization is mutual aid and self-defense; culture is the judge, the lawbook and the forces of Law & Ordure (sic); Civilization is uprising, insurrection, revolution; culture is the war of state against state, or of machines against people, as in Hungary and Vietnam; Civilization is tolerance, detachment and humor, or passion, anger, revenge; culture is the entrance examination, the gas chamber, the doctoral dissertation and the electric chair; Civilization is the Ukrainian peasant Nestor Makhno fighting the Germans, then the Reds, then the Whites, then the Reds again; culture is Stalin and the Fatherland; Civilization is Jesus turning water into wine; culture is Christ walking on the waves; Civilization is a youth with a Molotov cocktail in his hand; culture is the Soviet tank or the L. A. cop that guns him down; Civilization is the wild river; culture, 592,000 tons of cement; Civilization flows; culture thickens and coagulates, like tired, sick, stifled blood.

„I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.“

—  Edward Abbey

Quoted in Saving Nature's Legacy : Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity (1994) by Reed F. Noss, Allen Y. Cooperrider, and Rodger Schlickeisen, p. 338
Context: One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, 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 much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

„Love can defeat that nameless terror. Loving one another, we take the sting from death.“

—  Edward Abbey, book Down the River

Down the River (1982)
Context: Love can defeat that nameless terror. Loving one another, we take the sting from death. Loving our mysterious blue planet, we resolve riddles and dissolve all enigmas in contingent bliss.

„It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.“

—  Edward Abbey

Quoted in Saving Nature's Legacy : Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity (1994) by Reed F. Noss, Allen Y. Cooperrider, and Rodger Schlickeisen, p. 338
Context: One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, 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 much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.

„To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me.“

—  Edward Abbey

"Walking", p. 205
The Journey Home (1977)
Context: There are some good things to be said about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who's always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and thus more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated and anyone can transport himself anywhere, instantly. Big deal, Buckminster. To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me. <!-- π

„This is the most beautiful place on earth.
There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary.“

—  Edward Abbey, book Desert Solitaire

"The First Morning", p. 1
Desert Solitaire (1968)
Context: This is the most beautiful place on earth.
There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio, or Rome — there's no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment.

„Civilization flows; culture thickens and coagulates, like tired, sick, stifled blood.“

—  Edward Abbey, book Desert Solitaire

"Episodes and Visions", p. 308
Desert Solitaire (1968)
Context: To make the distinction unmistakably clear: Civilization is the vital force in human history; culture is that inert mass of institutions and organizations which accumulate around and tend to drag down the advance of life; Civilization is Giordano Bruno facing death by fire; culture is the Cardinal Bellarmino, after ten years of inquisition, sending Bruno to the stake in the Campo di Fiori; Civilization is Sartre; culture Cocteau; Civilization is mutual aid and self-defense; culture is the judge, the lawbook and the forces of Law & Ordure (sic); Civilization is uprising, insurrection, revolution; culture is the war of state against state, or of machines against people, as in Hungary and Vietnam; Civilization is tolerance, detachment and humor, or passion, anger, revenge; culture is the entrance examination, the gas chamber, the doctoral dissertation and the electric chair; Civilization is the Ukrainian peasant Nestor Makhno fighting the Germans, then the Reds, then the Whites, then the Reds again; culture is Stalin and the Fatherland; Civilization is Jesus turning water into wine; culture is Christ walking on the waves; Civilization is a youth with a Molotov cocktail in his hand; culture is the Soviet tank or the L. A. cop that guns him down; Civilization is the wild river; culture, 592,000 tons of cement; Civilization flows; culture thickens and coagulates, like tired, sick, stifled blood.

„The earth will survive our most ingenious folly.“

—  Edward Abbey

“Shadows from the Big Woods”, p. 225
The Journey Home (1977)
Context: The earth is not a mechanism but an organism, a being with its own life and its own reasons, where the support and sustenance of the human animal is incidental. If man in his newfound power and vanity persists in the attempt to remake the planet in his own image, he will succeed only in destroying himself — not the planet. The earth will survive our most ingenious folly.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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