desert view from their decks. A packednpublic hearing gives official endorsementnto the project, and protestors atnthe site are dispersed by the state andnfederal constabulary, making yet anothernpart of the great American outdoorsnsafe for economic growth. But,nlike Igor and Frankenstein’s Monstern— or Robin Hood, if you prefer —nHayduke lives, and has returned withnhis allies to take on the fast-buck developers,ntourist operators, and politicalnmanipulators. Most readers will hopenthat, this time, Hayduke & Companynfinally get away with it. In any event,nthey will undoubtedly be led to pondern(as does Orval Jensen; one of GO-nLIATH’s operators) whether our economicnhealth really requires the eventualncommercial exploitation of everynpiece of as-yet undeveloped land. Asnfor Abbey, his belief was that it isn’t ancase of Nature or people, but rather ofnNature and people.nAlthough he preferred to be knownnas a novelist, it was as a writer of essaysnon travel, ideas, people, places, andnadventures that Abbey excelled. Thenlonely cry of a hawk, a stream bubblingnover rocks, the wind whisperingnLIBERAL ARTSnSIX-PACK POLITICSn. . . Just two years ago, during our lastncongressional election, our politiciansnpromised not to raise our taxes. Butnthese same politicians had the foresightnto create a special “commission” tonmake unpopular recommendations onntax increases.nCongress set the pace. They repealedntaxes on fur coats, expensive jewelrynand the sale of stocks and bonds.nNow, they say they must raise taxesnon your beer by at least 300%.n. . . You remember when I playednbaseball for the St. Louis Cardinals.nThen, I dealt with men who said whatnthey meant and meant what they said.n. . . I’ve had enough! Many of-thennation’s largest and most profitable corporationsnpay nothing in taxes. It’s justnnot fair to single beer drinkers out fornhigher taxes.nWith your help, I’m going to donsomething about it!n—from a recent newsletter by StannMusial, honorary chairman of BeernDrinkers of American36/CHRONICLESnthrough canyons, the magnificent solitudenof the desert, viewing the GrandnCanyon for the first time, or taking anfinal rafting expedition down the ColoradonRiver before a dam drownednmany of its most precious sites — thesenare some of the things that Abbeynrendered so well, and with so muchnclarity and forcefulness. And, yes, henwould — in what became an Abbeyntrademark — sprinkle his descriptionsnwith observations on the social andnpolitical topics he was most concernednwith. In these he comes across not asnsome right-wing crank, which henwasn’t in any event, but rather as anrepresentative for values that werenonce widely shared in this country, andnwhich contributed to making thenAmerican Republic something of ansuccess — at least before the onset ofnthe 20th century.nDesert Solitaire (1968) was his firstnnonfiction best-seller and is regardednby many critics and readers as his finestnbook. It is an account of his threenseasons spent as a ranger at ArchesnNational Monument near Moab,nUtah. In it. Abbey takes us on his hikesnthrough the desert and on that memorablenlast trip down the Colorado beforenthe dam builders flooded GlennCanyon and created the huge stagnantnpond known today as Lake Fouln(Powell). In it, too. Abbey inveighsnagainst the dehumanization of what hencalled “Industrial Tourism” and pausesnto reflect on “the wretched inhabitantsnof city and plain . . . can we evennthink of them, to be perfecfly candid,nas members of the same race?” DesertnSolitaire is not to be mistaken for a tournbook, since, as he pointed out, “mostnof what I write about … is gone orngoing under fast.” It is instead “annelegy. A memorial. You’re holding antombstone in your hands.”nThe Journey Home: Some Words innDefense of the American West (1977),nAbbey’s Road: Take the Other (1979),nDown the River (1982), Beyond thenWall (1984), and One Life at a Time,nPlease (1988) are the other collectionsnof his essays, and all of them containngems. It was in these essays that Abbeynpresented most effectively his views onnthe relationship between man and thennatural masterpieces that surroundnhim. Contrary to the impression somencritics had of him, Edward Abbey wasnno misanthrope who preferred rocksnnnand scorpions to humans. Far from it.nHe was a man who clearly enjoyed thencompany of his friends and who wishednwell for other people. What he seemednmost to despair of was the relenflessndrive to regulate all mankind and tondespoil our remaining “undeveloped”nareas. There is an honesty expressed innhis work that one rarely encounters innthese days when, as in Oliver Goldsmith’snera, speech is used not tonexpress thoughts but to conceal them.nThrough his essays and novels. Abbeynsought to share his love for thenAmerican West with his readers and tonawaken a sense of awe, and of wonderment.nHe tried to provoke readers tonreconsider what has become of ourncountry and what it yet may be. Henwrote in his essay “The Conscience ofnthe Conqueror” (included in Abbey’snRoad):nAmerica offers what may be ournfinal opportunity to save anuseful sample of the originalnland. It is not a question merelynof preserving forests and rivers,nwildlife and wilderness, but alsonof keeping alive a certain way ofnhuman life, a wholesome andnreasonable balance betweennindustrialism and agrarianism,nbetween cities and small towns,nbetween private property andnpublic property. Here it is stillnpossible to enjoy the advantagesnof contemporary technologicalnculture without having tonendure the overcrowding andnstress characteristic of thisnculture in less fortunatenregions . . . Perhaps in thendecades to come we can . . .nrestore to all citizens of ournnation their rightful heritage ofnbreathable air, drinkable water,nopen space, family-farmnagriculture, a truly democraticnpolitical economy. Why setflenfor anything less? … It will benthe job of another generation ofnthinkers and doers to keep thatnhope alive and bring it closer tonreality . . . We may succeed innmaking America … annexample to other nations ofnwhat is possible and beautiful.nWas that not, after all, thenwhole point and purpose of thenAmerican adventure?
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