Dr. Adam Johns
English Composition 0200
24 September 2014
After weeks of waiting to hear from Edward Abbey to schedule an interview, I have finally heard back from him! Choosing a setting that I thought would evoke honest answers, we meet in the ever-moving Times Square. Walking towards an already surly-faced Abbey, I introduce myself, exchange pleasantries, and begin.
“So right to the chase, Mr. Abbey. How does your reverence for nature and the environment affect your feelings towards humanity and society as a whole? You seem to fluctuate between absolute loathing people to missing them dearly.”
“To me, nature should be protected and respected, not destroyed. There is so much beauty and raw power in every aspect of nature, and all humans do is obliterate the world for the sake of their own convenience and laziness. Roads cut through the heart of the natural environment simply to help tourists, while allowing them to lose sight of what’s around them and speed through the grounds without fully appreciating anything. Acres of land are wasted for the necessity of fat people to continue being fat. Humanity is sowing its own destruction. I keep wondering how I can help these people who simply don’t want to be inconvenienced at all for the chance at having the most amazing experiences possible. It’s like people in general are ‘sealed in their metallic shells like moluscs on wheels, how can I pry the people free’ (233). I want to open the doors to the possibilities of finding yourself while getting lost in nature. You lose your physical body in the vast landscape but discover more about yourself than anyone though possible. The loneliness is what makes the experiences exhilarating. I find it extremely ironic that humanity makes everything from the environment while further destroying it.”
“I would like to touch on one of the subjects you hinted at. How did your solitude as park ranger affect you? It’s almost like you hate idea of being attached to anything man-made.”
“Alone-ness has both some benefits and negatives that go along with being in solitude. It allows you to completely rely on yourself, and in turn teaches you to respect the environment. By being alone, you’re away from the madness of the real world, where comfort is routine, and enjoyment is familiarity. There’s a dependence on everything to do with the normalcy of a structured life, but there’s not necessarily a structure in nature. This lack of a structure is what makes you think by yourself find your limits. I want to tell people to leave their lives and families for a short time to simply come to a reckoning with nature, to ‘turn your back on them and take a long quiet walk straight into the canyons, get lost for a while, come back when you damn well feel like it, it’ll do you and her and them a world of good’ (233). However, I understand the idea of making times easier for people, but not for the abuse of those commodities. Look around you at Times Square. It’s over indulged with unnatural light and clogged with fumy cars. People like the idea of going out and experiencing everything the environment has to offer them, but their busy minds are like this spot in New York. Everything distracts from the problem at hand and prevents them from leaving it behind, much like the traffic disables the drivers from reaching their destination on time. I absolutely do not hate everything man-made, but I strongly dislike the ways in which they have become so depended upon.”
“With that, I have one last question. Considering your statements regarding the ideas and actions of people, which would you say you have the biggest problem with? The ideas of humanity or its actions.”
“Without a doubt I have bigger problems with the actions of humanity. Humanity is not a bad thing. It allows for goodness and logic. Its ideals are in and of itself positive and sincere, but the attempts to further humanity is where things start to go awry. People may be doing so in order to help a cause, but in the end the tragic effects aren’t felt until the damage has been done, and therefore can be extremely difficult to predict beforehand.”
We wrap up our interview and part ways. As he walks away, he gives off a sense of being comfortable in this modernized world, but at the same time removed.
Abbey, Edward. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness. New York: McGraw, 1968. Print.