“What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.” –Edward Abbey
You can’t walk into a bookstore in Moab, Utah without noticing that “desert anarchist” Edward Abbey (1927-1989) is this area’s most beloved writer, and it’s not hard to understand why. Abbey worked for a time as a seasonal park ranger in Arches National Park, just outside of Moab, and he was also a naturalist and an (oftentimes fierce) environmentalist. The Southern Utah landscape that charmed Abbey often serves as the backdrop for his tales of adventure and monkeywrenching in the American Southwest.
From the shelves of Moab’s Back of Beyond Books, one of Abbey’s titles jumped out at me: A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (Vox Clamantis in Deserto): Notes from a Secret Journal. That the title somehow resonates with and/or accurately describes my current emotional state likely explains why I purchased it and then went on to experience great pleasure while reading it.
Throughout his life, Abbey kept a journal “fairly faithfully”, and A Voice Crying in the Wilderness is, as Abbey says, “simply a collection of fragments from that twenty-one-year-old personal record.” The little travel-friendly book of aphorisms gathers together hundreds of Abbey’s punchy comments on topics ranging from politics to nature to sport. Sometimes funny, sometimes absurd, and sometimes spot-on, Abbey’s musings are at least a consolation for those of us out there who are feeling like nothing more than a voice crying in the wilderness. I suppose we should take heart; Abbey was there, too. And eventually people listened.
Some goodies from A Voice Crying in the Wilderness:
“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.”
“Democracy—rule by the people—sounds like a fine thing; we should try it sometime in America.”
“Freedom begins between the ears.”
“It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it.”
“In the American Southwest, I began a lifelong love affair with a pile of rock.”
“Farting is such sweet sorrow.”
Back of Beyond Books
83 N. Main Street
Moab, Utah 84532