Quotes from Desert Solitaire

Edward Abbey ·  337 pages

Rating: (31.8K votes)


“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.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“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, quote from Desert Solitaire


“If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“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.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire



“Water, water, water....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, quote from Desert Solitaire


“Wilderness. The word itself is music.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“An economic system which can only expand or expire must be false to all that is human.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“Where all think alike there is little danger of innovation.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“The fire. The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante's paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire



“No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs--anything--but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“There's another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets it tends to separate a man from the world around him. If I switch it on my eyes adapt to it and I can see only the small pool of light it makes in front of me; I am isolated. Leaving the flashlight in my pocket where it belongs, I remain a part of the environment I walk through and my vision though limited has no sharp or definite boundary.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“Each thing in its way, when true to its own character, is equally beautiful. (p 41)”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“most of my wandering in the desert i've done alone. not so much from choice as from necessity - i generally prefer to go into places where no one else wants to go. 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.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“A crude meal, no doubt, but the best of all sauces is hunger.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire



“If industrial man continues to multiply his numbers and expand his operations he will succeed in his apparent intention, to seal himself off from the natural and isolate himself within a synthetic prison of his own making.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“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.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“A giant thirst is a great joy when quenched in time.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire



“So I lived alone.
The first thing I did was take off my pants. Naturally.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“my god! i'm thinking, what incredible shit we've put up with most of our lives - the domestic routine (same old jobs, insufferable arrogance of elected officials, the crafty cheating and the slimy advertising of the businessman, the tedious wars in which we kill our buddies instead of our real enemies back home in the capital, the foul diseased and hideous cities and towns we live in, the constant petty tyranny of automatic washers and automobiles and tv machines and telephones -! ah christ!, i'm thinking, at the same time that i'm waving goodby to that hollering idiot on shore, what intolerable garbage and what utterly useless crap we bury ourselves in day by day, while patiently enduring at the same time the creeping strangulation of the clean white collar and the rich but modest four-in-hand garrote)”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“Paradise is not a garden of bliss and changeless perfection where the lions lie down like lambs (what would they eat?) and the angels and cherubim and seraphim rotate in endless idiotic circles, like clockwork, about an equally inane and ludicrous -- however roseate -- unmoved mover. That particular painted fantasy of a realm beyond time and space which Aristotle and the church fathers tried to palm off on us has met, in modern times, only neglect and indifference passing on into oblivion it so richly deserved, while the paradise of which I write and wish to praise is with us yet, the the here and now, the actual, tangible, dogmatically real earth on which we stand.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“Late in August the lure of the mountains becomes irresistible. Seared by the everlasting sunfire, I want to see running water again, embrace a pine tree, cut my initials in the bark of an aspen, get bit by a mosquito, see a mountain bluebird, find a big blue columbine, get lost in the firs, hike above timberline, sunbathe on snow and eat some ice, climb the rocks and stand in the wind at the top of the world on the peak of Tukuhnikivats.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“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.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire



“Balance, that's the secret. Moderate extremism. The best of both worlds.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“Of all the featherless beasts, only man, chained by his self-imposed slavery to the clock, denies the elemental fire and proceeds as best he can about his business, suffering quietly, martyr to his madness. Much to learn.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“1. Concentrate the populace in megalopolitan masses so that they can be kept under close surveillance and where, in case of trouble, they can be bombed, burned, gassed or machine-gunned with a minimum of expense and waste. 2. Mechanize agriculture to the highest degree of refinement, thus forcing most of the scattered farm and ranching population into the cities. Such a policy is desirable because farmers, woodsmen, cowboys, Indians, fishermen and other relatively self-sufficient types are difficult to manage unless displaced from their natural environment. 3. Restrict the possession of firearms to the police and the regular military organizations. 4. Encourage or at least fail to discourage population growth. Large masses of people are more easily manipulated and dominated than scattered individuals. 5. Continue military conscription. Nothing excels military training for creating in young men an attitude of prompt, cheerful obedience to officially constituted authority. 6. Divert attention from deep conflicts within the society by engaging in foreign wars; make support of these wars a test of loyalty, thereby exposing and isolating potential opposition to the new order. 7. Overlay the nation with a finely reticulated network of communications, airlines and interstate autobahns. 8. Raze the wilderness. Dam the rivers, flood the canyons, drain the swamps, log the forests, strip-mine the hills, bulldoze the mountains, irrigate the deserts and improve the national parks into national parking lots. Idle speculations, feeble and hopeless protest. It was all foreseen nearly half a century ago by the most cold-eyed and clear-eyed of our national poets, on California’s shore, at the end of the open road. Shine, perishing republic.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“i was accused of being against civilization, against science, against humanity. naturally, i was flattered and at the same time surprised, hurt, a little shocked. he repeated the charge. but how, i replied, being myself a member of humanity (albeit involuntarily, without prior consultation), could i be against humanity without being against myself, whom i love - though not very much; how can i be against science, when i gratefully admire, as much as i can, thales, democritus, aristarchus, faustus, paracelsus, copernicus, galiley, kepler, newton, darwin and einstien; and finally, how could i be against civilization when all which i most willingly defend and venerate - including the love of wilderness - is comprehended by the term”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire


“Wilderness and motors are incompatible and the former can best be experienced, understood and enjoyed when the machines are left behind where they belong -- on the superhighways and in the parking lots, on the reservoirs and in the marinas.”
― Edward Abbey, quote from Desert Solitaire



About the author

Edward Abbey
Born place: in Indiana, Pennsylvania, The United States
Born date January 29, 1927
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“Now the situation is different, I admit: I have a wristwatch, I compare the angle of its hands with the angle of all the hands I see; I have an engagement book where the hours of my business appointments are marked down; I have a chequebook on whose stubs I add and subtract numbers. At Penn Station I get off the train, I take the subway, I stand and grasp the strap with one hand to keep my balance while I hold the newspaper up in the other, folded so I can glance over the figures of the stock market quotations: I play the game, in other words, the game of pretending there's an order in the dust, a regularity in the system, or an interpretation of different systems, incongruous but still measurable, so that every graininess of disorder coincides with the faceting of an order which promptly crumbles.”
― Italo Calvino, quote from The Complete Cosmicomics


“overgrown fields, obviously abandoned. We must be getting close to the next village, which was just as well. The sun was approaching the horizon, and the constant battle with the wind was exhausting for us as well as the horses. Fierce”
― Kiran Millwood Hargrave, quote from The Girl of Ink and Stars


“They killed farming a year or so later. And they killed it by putting cabs on tractors. No longer was the farmer alive to the elements, or even close to the earth.”
― John Lewis-Stempel, quote from Meadowland: the private life of an English field


“Our universe, extending immensely far beyond our present horizon, may itself be just one member of a possibly infinite ensemble. This ‘multiverse’ concept, though speculative, is a natural extension of current cosmological theories, which gain credence because they account for things that we do observe. The physical laws and geometry could be different in other universes, and this offers a new perspective on the seemingly special values that the six numbers take in ours.”
― Martin J. Rees, quote from Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe


“It is therefore not implausible that there is a connection between the rhythm of the body involved in running and the presence of the brain activity involved in higher cognitive functions.”
― Mark Rowlands, quote from The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death, and Happiness


Interesting books

An Object of Beauty
(45.6K)
An Object of Beauty
by Steve Martin
Between the Lines
(35.1K)
Between the Lines
by Jodi Picoult
Book of Shadows
(21.3K)
Book of Shadows
by Cate Tiernan
Ironside
(31.7K)
Ironside
by Holly Black
Cryer's Cross
(10K)
Cryer's Cross
by Lisa McMann
Last Stand of Dead Men
(7.4K)
Last Stand of Dead M...
by Derek Landy

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2023, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.