Edward Abbey Wilderness Quotes
“The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.”
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyong reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.”
“A world without open country would be universal jail.”
“I stand for what I stand on.”
“A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, powerlines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”
Edward Abbey Desert Quotes
“Belief? What do I believe in? I believe in sun. In rock. In the dogma of the sun and the doctrine of the rock. I believe in blood, fire, woman, rivers, eagles, storm, drums, flutes, banjos, and broom-tailed horses…”
“May your rivers flow without end... down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs... where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you-beyond that next turning of the canyon walls."
“There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount , a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide free open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.”
Edward Abbey Nature Quotes
“I choose to listen to the river for a while, thinking river thoughts, before joining the night and the stars.”
“I am not an atheist but an earthiest. Be true to the earth.”
“Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic....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."
“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.”
“There are some places so beautiful they can make a grown man break down and weep.”
“In the first place you can’t see anything from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you’ll begin to see something, maybe. Probably not.”
“If people persist in trespassing upon the grizzlies’ territory, we must accept the fact that the grizzlies, from time to time, will harvest a few trespassers.”
“I find that in contemplating the natural world my pleasure is greater if there are not too many others contemplating it with me, at the same time.”
“Men come and go, cities rise and fall, whole civilizations appear and disappear-the earth remains, slightly modified. The earth remains, and the heartbreaking beauty where there are no hearts to break....I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, thought an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.”
“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.”
“Industrial tourism is a threat to the national parks. But the chief victims of the system are the motorized tourists. They are being robbed and robbing themselves. So long as they are unwilling to crawl out of their cars they will not discover the treasures of the national parks and will never escape the stress and turmoil of the urban-suburban complexes which they had hoped, presumably, to leave behind for a while.”
Best Edward Abbey Quotes About Life and Raising Hell
“How to Overthrow the System: brew your own beer; kick in your Tee Vee; kill your own beef; build your own cabin and piss off the front porch whenever you bloody well feel like it.”
“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”
“Life is too short for grief. Or regret. Or bullshit.”
“Ah yes, the head is full of books. The hard part is to force them down through the bloodstream and out through the fingers.”
“Has joy any survival value in the operations of evolution? I suspect that it does; I suspect that the morose and fearful are doomed to quick extinction. Where there is no joy there can be no courage; and without courage all other virtues are useless.”
“Freedom begins between the ears.”
“I’ve never yet read a review of one of my own books that I couldn’t have written much better myself."
“I have been called a curmudgeon, which my obsolescent dictionary defines as a ‘surly, ill-mannered, bad-tempered fellow’. Nowadays, curmudgeon is likely to refer to anyone who hates hypocrisy, cant, sham, dogmatic ideologies, and has the nerve to point out unpleasant facts and takes the trouble to impale these sins on the skewer of humor and roast them over the fires of fact, common sense, and native intelligence. In this nation of bleating sheep and braying jackasses, it then becomes an honor to be labeled curmudgeon.”
“High technology has done us one great service: It has retaught us the delight of performing simple and primordial tasks – chopping wood, building a fire, drawing water from a spring.”
“When the situation is hopeless, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“I despise my own nation most. Because I know it best. Because I still love it, suffering from Hope. For me, that’s patriotism.”
Edward Abbey (1927-1989) was a headstrong defender of wilderness and the desert, a nature writer, and a big advocate for the wild. He was definitely curmudgeonly. He wrote Desert Solitaire while he worked as a park ranger in what is today Arches National Park, and it shared a lot about his love for the desert, for pure & wild places, and the struggling relationship between society, development, and the natural world. His fictional book The Monkey-Wrench Gang was a big hit about eco-saboteurs fighting to defend the wild.
Ol’ Cactus Ed inspired a generation of rebellious, spirited advocacy for the desert and wilderness. He wrote a lot about anarchy, eco-sabotage, the importance of not being anthropocentric, and occasionally wrote for the group Earth First! He was also a pretty big womanizer and drinker. He held some pretty sexist and racist views, even for his time. Even if he wasn’t a great guy, his influence on the environmental movement was huge, controversial, and still very relevant today.