Monday, June 12, 2006

Abbey quotes

Quotes from Edward Abbey's "One Life at a Time, Please"

"When my wino days descend upon me I want to enjoy them on the porch of a rotting shack on the bayou or in a crumbling adobe hut under an athel tree beside a spur line of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In the swamps or on the edge of the desert, reading old books, feeding the lizards, awaiting the monthly visit of my personal social welfare lady. (I can see her now: she will be black, plump, kind, willing to laugh at my ancient bawdy jokes, not too strict about how I spend my relief check." (56)

"As always when I'm alone in a deep and solitary canyon, I become intensely aware of the stillness around me, of a need to be strictly attentive, fully alert, cautious, and delicate with every step, as if I were under some kind of preternatural observation. Something is watching you..." (101)

"Except for crystals and stratigraphy, there are few straight lines in nature." (103)

"When my own turn comes to lie down, die, and decay, nourishing in the process some higher forms of life -- a clump of sage, a coyote, a prickly pear, a pissed-on aspen tree -- I hope the blessed event takes place high on a canyon rim, with a final vision red cliffs, magenta buttes, and purple mesas in my fading eyes." (126)

"Awful lot of traffic. Awful lot of people out here in the wilds. Awful lot of people everywhere; that's the kind of world we live in now. You get used to it, I guess. If you have to. But I'm not worried about it much. Nature will take care of things in her same old way, sooner or later. You know: famine, plague, war. The usual. Nobody lives forever. Neither do civilizations. They come and they go, like you and me. That doesn't bother me either." (148)

" in its various forms goes on, continues despite our human efforts to overcomplicate civilization and oversimplify nature." (153)

"In the United States we have thousands of newspapers, TV and radio stations, magazines and newsletters, but when nearly all say about the same thing on any issue all the time, what becomes of the value of the First Amendment?" (162)

"Most scientists in the East as in the West -- sold their souls to industry, commerce, government, war, long ago." (165)

"The typical American writer has knowledge of very little but opinions on everything." (167)

"Contempt for animal life leads to contempt for human life." (171)

Quoting the preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman:

"This is what you shall do. Love the earth and the sun and the animals. Despise riches. Give alms to everyone that asks. Stand up for the stupid and crazy. Devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and the young and with the mothers of families... Re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book and dismiss whatever insults your own soul..."

"Resist much, obey little." (175)

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