Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Week 1 Prompt 3 Question 2

Jayani Muniappan
English Composition 00200
Prompt 3 Question 2
Kant doubted the work of past philosophers, presenting his limits of human reason in his book, The Critique of Pure Reason. He describes the confines of feeling and thinking something. Humans are held back by both space and time. Our own minds hold us back from being able to experience things completely. To think Kant assumed that there were 12 pure rational concepts split into four fields: quantity, quality, relation and modality. He believed that human reasoning connected those thoughts to everything. When Abbey refers to seeing certain aspects of the desert landscape in an Anti-Kantian manner, he wants the boundaries of human reason to be broken so that humans can experience the greatness of the landscape without having to be held back by the restrictions of human reason.
In the First Morning, Abbey begins to describe his “most beautiful place on Earth” (Abbey, Desert Solitaire A Season in the Wilderness , 1971) the first two pages of the initial chapters focuses upon the description of the desert landscape. His perspective on the desert prevents readers from coming to their own conclusions, again showing the limitations of human reason.
Kant also believed that certain actions like murder, theft and lying should be strongly prohibited. In The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant says “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals”. Abbey however in chapter, Abbey willingly kills the innocent rabbit and has no problem with it. This goes to show how anti-kantian Abbey’s ways are and puts emphasis on Abbey as a person.
Contrary to many critiques of author’s goal Abbey made his intention in writing Desert Solitaire quite clear in his Introduction. He says: "Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out ... to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke ...Most of what I write about in this book is already gone or going under fast, This is not a travel guide but an elegy. A memorial. You're holding a tombstone in your hands. A bloody rock." Abbey makes it clear that his large idea, subject, objective is to glorify that which was--that which preceded tourist-attracting changes--so that it may be remembered in its natural glorious state.
The fact that Abbey connects his scientific observation of the desert landscape to anti-kantian, shows his desire to observe his sacred place in the clearest way possible. It allows the readers to understand his idea of making readers aware of the beauty that accompanies the unchanged desert land.
"The First Morning," which tells the tale or the facts of Abbey's entrance at his ranger station twenty miles from anywhere, anyone, and anything civilized, makes way for the theme of home, an idea or vision that Abbey says all people hold in their heart. Abbey builds the rest of the chapter from this theme, describing his new sanctuary with contrasting images of unbelievably insufficient heating, icy boots and mice living and dashing around in his new home, moving around to safe corners of his ranger station. This is all contrasted with "Lavender clouds" that "sail like a fleet of ships across the pale green dawn," "the peaks of the Sierra La Sal, ... all covered with snow and rosy in the morning sunlight," and "fogbanks ... scudding away like ghosts, fading into nothing before the wind and sunshine." Hence he is able to support his theme, early on as he acquaints the audience with his ideas on the beauty of simple facts.
When it comes to Abbey’s style, his descriptions are overflowing with simile: "all the rosy desert cooling like a griddle with the fire turned off." Some phrases may sound like metaphor at first until the audience is able to remember that Abbey is writing a celebration of fact, so when fogbanks "fade into nothing before the wind and sunlight," they literally scatter under the combined influence of wind and sunlight. This then brings us to his use of imagery, initially illustrated by trading "dissipate" for "fade." Part of the grace of "simple fact" is rooted in strong sensory linguistics which also adds to an atmosphere of grandeur and the convincing tone of overwhelming satisfaction, which can be heard by all readers.
Throughout the entirety of the novel, Abbey focuses upon on the natural beauty of the land and how, humans as a civilization have ruined it through the creation of new industries and new contractions that lure tourists in. His goal as an author is to fill readers with the same sense of awe for all that the desert is without the aid or hindrance provided by humans.


Abbey, E. (1971). Desert Solitaire A season in the Wilderness . Ballantine Books .
Kant, I. (1955). The critique of pure reason. Chicago: Encyclop√¶dia Britannica.


  1. Jayani,

    Overall I enjoyed reading your paper. I believe you made your argument very clear and supported it with various relatable quotes and instances from the work. The flow of the piece was nice, beginning with a description of Kantian, followed by details defending your argument. Once you said, “When Abbey refers to seeing certain aspects of the desert landscape in an Anti-Kantian manner, he wants the boundaries of human reason to be broken so that humans can experience the greatness of the landscape without having to be held back by the restrictions of human reason,” I immediately knew the path the rest of your paper would follow which was very helpful. In your fifth paragraph I thoroughly enjoyed your use of quotations blended throughout your sentences, which show the imagery and personification within the chapters.

    In contrast, the opening few sentences were slightly choppy and too simple at times. Many of your beginning ideas could have easily been combined into complex sentences using commas and other punctuation. Throughout your essay, I noticed many instances where you told the reader explicitly instead of showing the reader implicitly with details. For example, when you said, “this goes to show how Anti-Kantian Abbey’s ways are and puts emphasis on Abbey as a person,” it would not be necessary to say directly once you showed the reader prior, through your writing, allowing one to easily come to that conclusion him/herself. Lastly, be careful not to fall into the trap of over summarizing the book while defending your point and proofread for any awkward grammar.

  2. Your discussion of Kant is a little fuzzy, but that ends up ok, because you get the point that reasoning for Kant is in categories, and that one way to read Abbey is that he wants to get beyond or outside of those categories.

    Your discussion of Kant and animals is very interesting, but it also feels like a distraction - rather than listing out various ways in which Abbey is unlike Kant, it would be better to focus on fewer aspects of Abbey & Kant's work, while discussing them in more depth.

    The next couple paragraphs show a reasonable grasp of Abbey but don't really develop your argument - the idea that the book is a tombstone is an important one, but how does it connect with Kant?

    I liked your discussion of Abbey's style for itself, or in itself, but it doesn't seem to fit (or you haven't yet made it fit) into an essay on Abbey & Kant.

    Overall: The parts of this essay are interesting, but the whole is less than the parts. You don't really stick to a coherent argument, even though you have a number of interesting things to say. If you revise, the first thing to do is to decide what your'e really trying to say, and focus consistently upon it.


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