is quickly connecting human to human across countless miles. Life
experienced strictly in nature is now seen by many to be not only
unnecessary, but a sign of ignorance and stubbornness. However, in the
narrative Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey attempts to reveal how
important secluding one’s self in nature can be to the mind, and a
sense of respect for the self and nature can evolve from residing in a
harsh local. In a man versus nature setting, nature is powerful, but man
is adaptive and may learn and exist with respecting his surroundings.
example of how others in the technology society now perceive those that
immerse themselves in such places as the desert is apparent in the
my desert thoughts to a visitor one evening, I was accused of being
against science, against humanity. Naturally I was flattered and at the
same time surprised, hurt, a little shocked. (…) But how, I replied, being myself a
member of humanity (albeit involuntary, without prior consultation),
could I be against humanity without being against myself… (Abbey,
Many wish only to perceive
the world from the view found behind a pane of glass. A true experience
of a desert, along with many other experiences, must be observed with
time and persistence. Oftentimes the study of the world around a person
must even require them to temporarily, and in some cases permanently,
forego involvement with other humans.
The desert is a harsh place for both humans and the
indigenous flora and fauna of the area. By observing the hardy condition
of plants and animals found in the Arches National Monument of Utah,
Abbey leads the reader to discern that a human living in the area would
become similar. As can be interpreted from the last chapter, a person
more in touch with nature would be much more competitive in the
technological society after adjustment than a person that separates
themselves from the world by panes of glass (such as vehicle windows).
Abbey finds himself longing for the “the crackle of clamshells on
the floor of the bar in the Clam Broth House in Hoboken.
[He] long[s] for a view of the jolly, rosy faces on 42nd Street
and the cheerful throngs on the sidewalks of Atlantic Avenue.”
(Abbey 331), and one can see how he easily balance his two worlds. Both
Abbey’s desert world and technological world have some of the same
harsh events like death, as seen in the chapters “The Dead Man at
Grandview Point” and “Bedrock and Paradox.” His ability
to handle these issues with great tenacity is evidence of the hardening
his mind has received by life in the desert.
Though seen as a stubborn effort to push away
technology and the company of others, immersing one’s self in the
nature that surrounds them proves to be very beneficial to the adaptive
human mind. Whether by surviving in a thirsty desert, relying on a plain
for food, or exploring a dense and dangerous jungle, the primitive side
of a person can be helpful in many situations. However, if more of the
lives of humans is spent observing the world behind protective lenses,
less of the world is going to be experienced.
by lain myers