The Watering Hole; Thursday August 14 2014; Edward Abbey: “Be True To The Earth”

Edward Abbey (1927-1989) was, at least in my experience, the first genuine and outspoken environmentalist I ever had the pleasure of discovering. I was a college student in Arizona in the early sixties when the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River above the Grand Canyon was under construction. Popular opinion on the matter was pretty much unanimous in the state that the dam was going to be an immense benefit in virtually every imaginable fashion. Edward Abbey, on the other hand, was the near singular voice of opposition. He opposed the project because of the damage it was doing and would continue to do to the terrain and the ecology that had long defined Glen Canyon. He thought the dam and its future impact(s) were nothing other than environmental atrocities of undefinable magnitude. It took several years before I finally came to agree with him — mainly, I suppose, because his grand little masterpiece Desert Solitaire wasn’t published until 1968, and it wasn’t until the early seventies that I finally snagged a copy and read it for the first time (but not the last by any stretch).

Following are a dozen or so Edward Abbey quotes, most of which I snagged and recorded during that first read of Desert Solitaire. Each of them amply demonstrates his passion for the natural world as well as his distaste for humans and what they are (and have long been) doing to it.

Edward Abbey

“Wilderness. The Word itself is music. Wilderness, wilderness . . . We scarcely know what we mean by the term, though the sound of it draws all whose nerves and emotions have not yet been irreparably stunned, deadened, numbed by the caterwauling of commerce, the sweating scramble for profit and domination. . . . [for] the love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need — if only we had the eyes to see. Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us — if only we were worthy of it.”

“If a man’s imagination were not so weak, so easily tired, if his capacity for wonder not so limited, he would abandon forever such fantasies of the supernal. He would learn to perceive in water, leaves and silence more than sufficient of the absolute and marvelous, more than enough to console him for the loss of the ancient dreams.”

“God? … who the hell is He? . . . Why confuse the issue by dragging in a superfluous entity? Occam’s razor. Beyond atheism, nontheism. I am not an atheist but an eartheist. Be true to the earth.”

“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. Turning Plato and Hegel on their heads I sometimes choose to think, no doubt perversely, that man is a dream, though an illusion, and only rock is real. Rock and sun.”

“I discovered that I was not opposed to mankind but only to man-centeredness, anthropocentricity, the opinion that the world exists solely for the sake of man; not to science, which means simply knowledge, but to science misapplied, to the worship of technique and technology, and to that perversion of science properly called scientism; and not to civilization but to culture.”

“[W]hen a man must be afraid to drink freely from his country’s rivers and streams that country is no longer fit to live in. Time then, to move on, to find another country or — in the name of Jefferson — to make another country. ‘The tree of liberty is nourished by the blood of tyrants.'”

“The developers . . . the politicians, businessmen, bankers, administrators, engineers … cannot see that growth for the sake of growth is a cancerous madness … They would never understand that an economic system which can only expand or expire must be false to all that is human.” 

“No wonder the Authorities are so anxious to smother the wilderness under asphalt and reservoirs. They know what they’re doing; their lives depend on it, and all their rotten institutions.”

“The rancher strings barbed wire across the range, drills wells and bulldozes stock ponds everywhere, drives off the elk and antelope and bighorn sheep, poisons coyotes and prairie dogs, shoots eagle and bear and cougar on sight, supplants the native bluestem and grama grass with tumbleweed, cow shit, cheat grass, snakeweed, anthills, poverty weed, mud and dust and flies–and then leans back and smiles broadly at the Tee Vee cameras and tells us how much he loves the West.”

“The sheepmen complain that coyotes eat some of their lambs. This is true but do they eat enough? … enough lambs to keep the coyotes sleek, healthy and well fed? That is my concern.”

“They [the animals] do not sweat and whine about their condition, They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins . . . “

Next up, a quick peek at the other side of the Abbey coin, the side upon which is displayed the abject stupidity, the vapid cloak of hatred and fear worn by far too many “sportsmen” these days. The following quotes were included in a recent communication by the Center For Biological Diversity (Tucson AZ) which, in the Center’s words, is “targeted every day by the rabid haters of predator species. It’s hard to even express how poisonous these sentiments are . . .”  Here is their list of “the 10 worst anti-wolf quotes” their organizers have received in recent weeks. 

10.Wolves are wildlife terrorists.” — Ron Gillett of the Central Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition

9. “Shoot, shovel and shut up!” — Zachery H. via Facebook

8. “They need to send these Mexican wolves back to Mexico!” — Unknown, screamed at our Southwest Conservation Advocate

7. “We think they should be shot on sight.” — Marcia Armstrong, chair of the Siskiyou County, Calif., Board of Supervisors

6. “Whatever liberal idiots did this to us should be tarred and feathered. Dead wolves are good wolves.” — Wiley S. via Facebook

5. “Last week Hondurans, this week wolves.” — Michael A. in response to a story about the expansion of the Mexican gray wolf habitat

4. “I LOVE wolves. I try to smoke a pack a day.” — Jason D. via Facebook

3. “I’d put the tanned hide right on the wall nest [sic] to my bobcat, coyote, skunk, red fox, gray fox, beaver, deer, alligator, prairie dog, brown trout and field mouse.” — Ty B. via email

2. “Your wake-up call just got a donation from me… to the National Rifle Assocation [sic]” — Joe C. via email

1. “The introduction of Canadian wolves into the Northwest was a criminal conspiracy by a bunch of pot-smoking, wine-sucking, vegetarian lawyers to end blood sports and ranching on public land… I want to see these people in prison for the rest of their lives.” — Montana gubernatorial candidate Bob Fanning

And a bonus: “I hope the plane goes down.” — Doug S. responding to a story about orphaned Alaskan wolf pups being adopted by the Minnesota Zoo.

Personally, I find myself in total and complete agreement with Edward Abbey’s 1968 summation of each and all such idiots. He wrote, in Desert Solitaire,

“Whenever I see a photograph of some sportsman grinning over his kill, I am always impressed by the striking moral and aesthetic superiority of the dead animal to the live one.”

Amen and yea verily. 

“Be true to the earth.”





60 thoughts on “The Watering Hole; Thursday August 14 2014; Edward Abbey: “Be True To The Earth”

  1. Your choice of subject and words for today are proof positive that the voices of the Earth sing in chorus and Edward Abbey’s words here are the featured solo; a rousing call to continue on: seeking truth, speaking truth, living truth.
    Edward Abbey steadfastly remained true to the Earth by remaining true to himself. Courageous, outrageous, rough edged, abrasive; what better material to smooth and polish a tool for others to wield in the defense of the natural order cannot be imagined. His words and deeds will live and grow even as his dust sifts through the seams of his sleeping bag somewhere out there under the desert floor.
    When one is connected in no matter how tenuous a manner to the rhythms and awareness’ of the Earth, messages get through when they are needed. Rarely if ever what we want to hear, but always what we need to hear, and there are those special moments when, after accepting the message and making a hard choice in order to stay on the trail, there is a loud and laughing call of “Atta boy!”
    You are the finely crafted and well tuned instrument to carry the tune today frugalchariot, Migwetch!

    • Thanks, Cuervo. And thanks for the el perfecto description of the master himself, Edward Abbey. As far as I know, Abbey stands alone on the top rung of the environmentalist ladder as THE most genuinely passionate atop a list of genuinely passionate servants of the earth.

        • Thanks for that.

          How did you do it? When I put the post together last night, the entire ‘new post’ format had changed. I couldn’t find any “sticky” option and though I scheduled it to post at a minute past midnight, it apparently didn’t do that either so I manually posted it around five this morning. Is it me, or is it WordPress?

          • Late PM note: looks as though WordPress has updated its ‘new post’ page. “Sticky” is now where it wasn’t last night. Tomorrow morning’s post should tell the tale. Vamos a ver.

          • Where it says “visibility – public” there’s an “edit” link. Click that and you get the box to mark “sticky”. Click the box and the post becomes “sticky”.

            but not, I think, in the same manner as patio furniture after an intimate encounter with a naked woman.

    • What was “indecent” about her “exposure”? She was naked, apparently, but so what? She was born that way, right?

      I’ve always been puzzled by certain details.

        • Like as in a fully clothed stupid shit carrying a loaded AK-47 into a restaurant, for example? Now THAT is definitely indecent, plus it exposes him for the loser dipshit idiot he really is.

          Life can be so simple! 🙂

          • His getup as far more intimate than any simple naked person, everyone can see “the messy stuff”!

    • “Homeland Security” forces are able to buy in the US all kinds of armament and gear that a trained soldier in the military is not provided with. State and municipal governments can equip their police/security forces with anything at the level of their choosing, just pick and choose from the commercial arms industry’s never ending inventory.

      • Shirley Li notes that the Pentagon transferred military-grade weapons to the local police:

        “According to Michelle McCaskill, media relations chief at the Defense Logistics Agency, the Ferguson Police Department is part of a federal program called 1033, in which the Department of Defense distributes hundreds of millions of dollars of surplus military equipment to civilian police forces across the U.S. That surplus military equipment doesn’t just mean small items like pistols or automatic rifles; towns like Ferguson could become owners of heavy armored vehicles, including the MRAPs used in Afghanistan and Iraq. “In 2013 alone, $449,309,003.71 worth of property was transferred to law enforcement,” the agency’s website states.

        All in all, it’s meant armored vehicles rolling down streets in Ferguson and police officers armed with short-barreled 5.56-mm rifles that can accurately hit a target out to 500 meters hovering near the citizens they’re meant to protect.”

        • I hadn’t realized they were being GIVEN the stuff, I had assumed they were buying it either as surplus or surplus orders from the manufacturer.

  2. ““God? … who the hell is He? . . . Why confuse the issue by dragging in a superfluous entity?” – Amen to that…. sorry – couldn’t resist that.

  3. Happening kind of in real time over here on the Tweeter….

    NYT reporter near Ukraine border in the area *not* controlled by Ukraine, gets a look inside one of the 300 Russian ‘humanitarian aid’ trucks – the ones that the Red Cross says they don’t know anything about… see if you draw the same conclusions most of the followers of this event are…

    • Also a lot of empty space… space for say, men with weapons…. buckwheat is an excellent insulator and would make an effective wall piled up inside for the storm troopers…

  4. You might want to brace yourself, but Alex Jones is correct. Liberals, moderates, and conservatives should unite over this abuse of power which could someday affect us all. There will be more Ferguson, Missouris if we don’t express our outrage. When a guy like Alex Jones is in agreement with the ACLU, you know Ferguson, MO is out of line.

    “Alex covers the unfolding crisis in Ferguson, Missouri as police attack the media as it covers protests and violence in response to the shooting of a teenager on Saturday and what such a heavy-handed response portends for America. The Infowars team on the ground in Ferguson files a report in the wake of a night of violence, including police shooting Infowars reporter Sgt. Joe Biggs with a rubber bullet.”

  5. On the interweb from a friend:

    When asked about the situation in St. Louis County, Sen. John McCain (R-Nutistan) replied, “Build the damn Arch”!

  6. A group of reporters from the Daily Telegraph, NYT and Reuters – if this is true…. the Russians are no longer even hiding it now. They are sending Russian APCs into Ukraine right now.

    • The Guardian reporter is there too – with the ‘aid convoy’ at the border, which the Ukraine army does not control.

    • Looks like The Guardian, Financial Times, Telegraph and BBC reporters are in a group with the ‘aid convoy’ two of them reporting on seeing clearly marked columns of Russian APCs crossing into Ukraine…. so now what?

  7. What’s the chance, I wonder, of coaxing the Russians into Ferguson MO? A better solution than relying on the Ferguson and/or the St. Louis County PD’s maybe? I mean, it wouldn’t be any big deal because, as Rep. Steve King has pointed out, #Ferguson protestors are of a single “continental origin”. Besides, Wingnuts everywhere adore Putin, so what could possibly go wrong?

    • Better yet. Let’s just send the whole damned bunch of pigs to the Ukrainian/Russian border and let them decide which side they want to “protect and serve” cause it’s obvious that none of them are willing to protect or serve the citizens of Ferguson.

      BTW. I haven’t felt compelled to call a police officer a “pig” in decades. It makes me sad.

  8. I guess I should have filed a tax return in 2012? 🙂

    Just wait until the IRS figures out I didn’t file in 2013 either. 😆

  9. From Variety:

    “Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease at the time of his death, his wife Susan Schneider said in a new statement.

    “Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” said Schneider.”

    • That would be devastating news to one with so much energy, to know that eventually he’d have no control over his life.

    • My ex-husband’s family is riddled with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s truly a terrible and devastating disease.

      • Ohhh, SNAP:

        Michael McKean @MJMcKean 1m
        Rush is going to have fun with this. He looooves goofin’ on Parkinson’s.

  10. My aunt Stella had a really funny Mynah. Bing had the Mynah on it front page this morning, and I had the urge to post this….thanks for humoring me.

  11. New York Times | BREAKING NEWS ALERT

    Iraq’s Prime Minister Agrees to Relinquish Power Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on Thursday night said he agreed to relinquish power, state television reported, a move that came after days of crisis in which Mr. Maliki’s deployment of extra security forces around the capital raised worries of a military coup.

    While the country is not at peace, Mr. Maliki’s decision, nonetheless, appeared to pave the way for the first truly peaceful transition of power, based on democratic elections and without the guiding hand of American military forces, in modern Iraq’s history.
    In stepping aside Mr. Maliki agreed to end his legal challenge to the nomination of his replacement, which was made on Monday when Iraq’s president nominated Haider al-Abadi, a member of Mr. Maliki’s own Shiite Islamist Dawa Party.

    Mr. Maliki’s decision came after days of negotiations with his former Shiite allies, who urged Mr. Maliki to give up in the face of growing international opposition to his rule, including from the United States and Iran, and the sense among most Iraqi leaders that his removal was necessary to bring the country together in the face of an onslaught by Sunni militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
    Mr. Abadi, according to the constitution, has 30 days from the time of his appointment – which was Monday – to form a new government. During that time, Mr. Maliki remains the caretaker prime minister, and the commander-in-chief of the military.

    • Thanks Ebb, a bright spot in a day that has been one of the most miserable I’ve had since yesterday! It began when I played the video TtT posted yesterday about Evolution vs God. My sister came into the room just as I was clicking on the video and when she saw it she accused me of playing it intentionally because of her religious beliefs. I got pissed for her accusation and her insecurity about her beliefs and told her she owes me an apology. She left and stayed away until after I had gone to bed. She hasn’t said anything to me all day and has avoided being in the same area where I am! I’m hoping she gets mad enough to move!

  12. BTW, Putin has started the full-on invasion of SE Ukraine in the last 90 mins.

      • Hand slaps to the Czar allows him to move, with, impunity.
        He’ll continue until the vise is tightened.

        • They said the aid convoy was a Trojan Horse, full of weapons and soldiers… Putin is not that stupid – instead it was simply a countdown clock – half empty shiny white trucks, driven by Russian paratroopers, followed by Western media and the real customers of the fake aid mission – the Russian media….. well the countdown has reached zero tonight. The trucks, shown to be over half empty in a ridicule of the claim that tonnes of supplies were on their way to trapped civilians in Luhansk, they are not going over the border, at least not until the Russian army has driven out the overmatched and outgunned Ukranians out of Donbass.

          “Pro-Russian separatists” – how the West framed the debate against the Ukraine from the start….

          …. welcome to 1939 once again.

  13. Apologies if this has been posted prior, (didn’t see it on today), but this is mind-numbing.

    Sarah Palin Picks Imaginary Fight With Elizabeth Warren, Loses | Mother Jones

    Last month at Netroots Nation, Sen. Elizabeth Warren [gave a speech][0] outlining what she considers 11 tenets of modern American liberalism. (“We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth…We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.”) You can watch it in full [here][1].

    On August 7, Alaska governor-turned reality star Sarah Palin went on her eponymous television channel to offer a conservative rebuttal.

    The thing to keep in mind is that she had three weeks to write these responses. This is not live. This is not a real debate. There is no moderator. Katie Couric and the lamestream media have no hand in this. This is a Sarah Palin joint.


    I couldn’t get through more of about a minute of the longer video. It’s ridiculous. She’s ridiculous.

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