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To PC or not too p.c?

Edward Abbey speaks

courtesy of Edward Abbey: to pc or not too pc?

A few words in favour of Edward Abbey

Let us praise the noble turkey vulture: No one envies him; he harms nobody; and he contemplates our little world from a most serene and noble height.

A true libertarian supports free enterprise, opposes big business; supports local self-government, opposes the nation-state; supports the National Rifle Association, opposes the Pentagon.

In everything but brains and brawn, women are vastly superior to men. A different race.

Alaska is our biggest, buggiest, boggiest state. Texas remains our largest unfrozen state. But mountainous Utah, if ironed out flat, would take up more space on a map than either.

The real work of men was hunting meat. The invention of agriculture was a giant step in the wrong direction, leading to serfdom, cities, and empire. From a race of hunters, artists, warriors, and tamers of horses, we degraded ourselves to what we are now: clerks, functionaries, laborers, entertainers, processors of information.

"We greet each other, sun and I, across the black void of ninety-three million miles."

A mother's sorrow is more true, honorable, and beautiful than the detachment of the sage.

The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chain saws.

What's the difference between the Lone Ranger and God? There really is a Lone Ranger.

A good book is a kind of paper club, serving to rouse the slumbrous and to silence the obtuse

Fantastic doctrines (like Christianity or Islam or Marxism) require unanimity of belief. One dissenter casts doubt on the creed of millions. Thus the fear and the hate; thus the torture chamber, the iron stake, the gallows, the labor camp, the psychiatric ward.

When a dog howls at the moon, we call it religion. When he barks at strangers, we call it patriotism.

You long for success? Start at the bottom; dig down.

Appearance versus reality? Appearance is reality, God damn it!

My books always make the best-seller lists in Wolf Hole, Arizona, and Hanksville, Utah.

Home is where, when you have to go there, you probably shouldn't.

Alaska's chief attractions are: (a) its small and insignificant human population, thanks to the miserable climate; and (b) its large and magnificent wildlife population, thanks to (a). Both of these attractions are being rapidly diminished, however, by (c) the Law of Growth and Space-Age Sleaze.

The purpose of love, sex, and marriage is the production and raising of children. But look about you: Most people have no business having children. They are unqualified, either genetically or culturally or both, to reproduce such sorry specimens as themselves. Of all our privileges, the license to breed is the one most grossly abused.

Platitude: a statement that denies by implication what it explicitly affirms.

It may be true that my desk here is really "nothing but" a transient eddy of electrons in the flux of universal process. Nevertheless, I find that it continues to support my feet, my revolver, and my cigars all day long. What happens when my back is turned I don't know. Or much care. That's no concern of mine.

Critics are like ticks on a dog or tits on a motor: ornamental but dysfunctional.

Our modern industrial economy takes a mountain covered with trees, lakes, running streams and transforms it into a mountain of junk, garbage, slime pits, and debris.

We live in a society in which it is normal to be sick; and sick to be abnormal.

South of the border: The Hispanics despise the mestizos, the mestizos look with contempt on Los Indios, the Indians take it out on their women and dogs.

Man was created to complete the horse

And I am struck once again by the unutterable beauty, terror, and strangeness of everything we think we know.

The ever-rising cost of living: Someday soon, the corporate technicians will be locking meters on our noses and charging us a royalty on the air we breathe.

My Aunt Ida at age eighty-three: "Yeah," she said, "I'll be dead pretty soon. And frankly, I don't give a damn."

What is reason? Knowledge informed by sympathy, intelligence in the arms of love.

Despair leads to boredom, electronic games, computer hacking, poetry, and other bad habits."

Mormonism: Nothing so hilarious could possibly be true. Or all bad.

For this world that men have made, none of us is bad enough. For the world that made us, none is good enough.

Those who dream of the joys of living in a space colony should live in a space colony.

If, as some say, evil lies in the hearts not the institutions of men, then there's hardly a distinction worth making between, say, Hitler's Germany and Rebecca's Sunnybrook Farm.

Us nature mystics got to stick together.

The rifle and handgun are "equalizers"--the weapons of a democracy. Tanks and bombers represent dictatorship.

Proust again: One can only wish that a man with such powers of total recall had led a less tedious life, moved among somewhat livelier circles....

In social institutions, the whole is always less than the sum of its parts. There will never be a state as good as its people, or a church worthy of its congregation, or a university equal to its faculty and students.

The best thing about graduating from the university was that I finally had time to sit on a log and read a good book.

In history-as-politics, the "future" is that vacuum in time waiting to be filled with the antics of statesmen.

Society is like a stew. If you don't keep it stirred up, you get a lot of scum on top.

Be it ever so vile, there's no place like home.

Is it possible to grow wiser without knowing it? One hopes so. We all hope so.

Freedom begins between the ears.

What did Jesus say to the headwaiter at the Last Supper?" Separate checks, please."

Women who love only women may have a good point.

Pure science is a myth: Both mathematical theoreticians like Albert Einstein and practical crackpots like Henry Ford dealt with different aspects of the same world.

Nothing could be more reckless than to base one's moral philosophy on the latest pronouncements of science.

Any hack can safely rail away at foreign powers beyond the sea; but a good writer is a critic of the society he lives in

Orthodoxy is a relaxation of the mind accompanied by a stiffening of the heart.

Longevity, like intelligence and good looks and health and strength of character, is largely a matter of genetic heritage. Choose your parents with care.

Do I believe in ghosts? I believe in the ghosts that haunt the human mind.

In a nation of sheep, one brave man forms a majority

"Rock" is the music of slaves. Of adolescents pursuing the illusion of freedom and protest while the steel chains of technology bind them ever tighter.

This world may be only illusion--but it's the only illusion we've got.

Our suicidal poets (Plath, Berryman, Lowell, Jarrell, et al.) spent too much of their lives inside rooms and classrooms when they should have been trudging up mountains, slogging through swamps, rowing down rivers. The indoor life is the next best thing to premature burial.

One must be reasonable in one's demands on life. For myself, all that I ask is: (1) accurate information; (2) coherent knowledge; (3) deep understanding; (4) infinite loving wisdom; (5) no more kidney stones, please.

In writing, fidelity to fact leads eventually to the poetry of truth.

Those who fear death most are those who enjoy life least.

Most new books drop immediately into the oblivion they so richly deserve.

A man's duty? To be ready--with rifle or rood--to defend his home when the showdown comes.

"Love flowers best in openness and freedom

"A life without tragedy would not be worth living.

A good writer must have more than vin rose in his veins, use more than Chablis for ink.

The death penalty would be even more effective, as a deterrent, if we executed a few innocent people more often.

Women truly are better than men. Otherwise, they'd be intolerable.

Lifting her skirt, she revealed her treasure. The mother lode. Pretty, I thought, but is it art?

As between the skulking and furtive poacher, who hunts for the sake of meat, and the honest gentleman shooter, who kills for the pleasure of sport, I find the former a higher type of humanity.

A cowboy is a farm boy in leather britches and a comical hat.

It's true: Every time you kill an elk, you're saving some cow's life.

The ideal society can be described, quite simply, as that in which no man has the power or means to coerce others.

If we had the power of ten Shakespeares or a dozen Mozarts, we could not produce anything half so marvelous as one ordinary human child

The true, unacknowledged purpose of capital punishment is to inspire fear and awe--fear and awe of the State.

The missionaries go forth to Christianize the savages--as if the savages weren't dangerous enough already.

One thing more dangerous than getting between a grizzly sow and her cub is getting between a businessman and a dollar bill.

Every analysis leaves a residue of the unknown; this we call God or Karma or--depending on time and place--the UFO. (Unidentified Fucking Object).

Some of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution. A few wore red coats, a few wore blue coats, and the rest wore no coats at all. We never did figure out who won that war

Fire lookout, 1400 hours, ferocious lightning storm. Me and God. That fucker is trying to get me again, God damn him. But I got me old .357....

Capitalism: Nothing so mean could be right. Greed is the ugliest of the capital sins.

Man's deliberate destruction of his own habitat--planet Earth--could serve as a mighty theme for a mighty book worthy of a modern Melville or Tolstoy. But our best fictioneers confine themselves to domestic drama--soap opera with literary trimmings.

J. Edgar Hoover, J. Bracken Lee, J. Parnell Thomas, J. Paul Getty--you can always tell a shithead by that initial initial.

Every man should be his own guru; every woman her own gurette.

All dams are ugly, but the Glen Canyon Dam is sinful ugly.

Most of what we call the classics of world literature suggest artifacts in a wax museum. We have to hire and pay professors to get them read and talked about.

Death is every man's final critic. To die well you must live bravely.

In art as in life, form and subject, body and soul, are one.

Perfection is a minor virtue.

"Welcome to the banquet of life," said a recent Pope, forgetting that most have to fight their way to the table.

There is a fine art to making enemies and it requires diligent cultivation. It's not as easy as it looks.

They cannot see that growth for the sake of growth is a cancerous madness, that Phoenix and Albuquerque will not be better cities to live in when their populations are doubled again and again. They would never understand that an economic system which can only expand or expire must be false to all that is human.

All revolutions have failed? Perhaps. But rebellion for good cause is self-justifying--a good in itself. Rebellion transforms slaves into human beings, if only for an hour.

Indolence and melancholy: Each generates the other. If one can speak of such feeble passions as generating anything.

I, too, believe in fidelity. But how can I be true to one woman without being false to all the others?

In the dog-eat-dog economy, the Doberman is boss

The "terror" of the French Revolution lasted for ten years. The terror that preceded and led to it lasted for a thousand years.

At last the sun touched the skyline, merged with it for a moment in a final explosive blaze of light and heat and sank out of sight

A true conservative must necessarily be a conservationist.

How to Overthrow the System: brew your own beer; kick in your Tee Vee; kill your own beef; build your own cabin and piss off the front porch whenever you bloody well feel like it.

Football is a game for trained apes. That, in fact, is what most of the players are--retarded gorillas wearing helmets and uniforms. The only thing more debased is the surrounding mob of drunken monkeys howling the gorillas on

John Updike: our greatest suburban chic-boutique man of letters. A smug and fatal complacency has stunted his growth beyond hope of surgical repair. Not enough passion in his collected works to generate steam in a beer can. Nevertheless, he is considered by some critics to be America's finest "living" author: Hold a chilled mirror to his lips and you will see, presently, a fine and dewy moisture condensing--like a faery breath!--upon the glass.

You cannot reshape human nature without mutilating human beings.

I hate intellectual discussion. When I hear the words "phenomenology" or "structuralism", I reach for my buck knife.

America My Country: last nation on earth to abolish human slavery; first of all nations to drop the nuclear bomb on our fellow human beings.

Government: If you refuse to pay unjust taxes, your property will be confiscated. If you attempt to defend your property, you will be arrested. If you resist arrest, you will be clubbed. If you defend yourself against clubbing, you will be shot dead. These procedures are known as the Rule of Law

The developers and entrepreneurs must somehow be taught a new vocabulary of values.

If you feel that you must suffer, then plan your suffering carefully--as you choose your dreams, as you conceive your ancestors.

"Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary

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.

Hierarchical institutions are like giant bulldozers--obedient to the whim of any fool who takes the controls.

Running the big rapids is like sex: half the fun lies in the anticipation, two thirds of the thrill with the approach. The remainder is only ecstasy-or darkness.

There has got to be a God; the world could not have become so fucked up by chance alone.

Proverbs save us the trouble of thinking. What we call folk wisdom is often no more than a kind of expedient stupidity.

Koan: Why did the chicken cross the road?

A rancher is a farmer who farms the public lands with a herd of four-legged lawn mowers.

No man likes to be smoked out of his hole in February.

I was once invited to take part in a heroic, possibly fatal enterprise, but I declined, mainly on account of sloth.

Tee Vee football: one team wins, one team loses--they tie--who cares? And why?

Scientific method: There's a madness in the method.

No man is wise enough to be another man's master. Each man's as good as the next--if not a damn sight better.

Beware of your wishes: They will probably come true.

Anton Bruckner wrote the same symphony nine times (ten, actually),trying to get it just right. He failed.

Nothing is really lost except that epiphenomenon known as human delight.

There's nothing so obscene and depressing as an American Christmas.

There is a kind of poetry in simple fact.

An empty man is full of himself.

In my case, saving the world was only a hobby.

For women, the sexual act is a means to a higher end. For a man, it is an end in itself.

Simplicity is always a virtue. One kid on a riverbank working out a Stephen Foster tune on his new harmonica heard from the correct esthetic distance projects more magic and power than the entire Vienna Philharmonic and Chorus laboring (once again) through the Mozart Requiem or Bach's B Minor Mass.

Climbing K-2 or floating the Grand Canyon in an inner tube: There are some things one would rather "have done" than "do".

Humility is a virtue when you have no other.

Like any writer, I'd rather be read than dead. Like any serious "author", I'd rather be dead than not read at all.

It's a fool's life, a rogue's life, and a good life if you keep laughing all the way to the grave.

A man without a horse is like a man without a weapon: stunted and naked.

Life is cruel? Compared to what?

When the philosopher's argument becomes tedious, complicated, and opaque, it is usually a sign that he is attempting to prove as true to the intellect what is plainly false to common sense.

But men of intellect will believe anything-- if it appeals to their ego, their vanity, their sense of self-importance.

If people persist in trespassing upon the grizzlies' territory, we must accept the fact that the grizzlies, from time to time, will harvest a few trespassers.

Books are like eggs--best when fresh.

As war and government prove, insanity is the most contagious of diseases..

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