A selection from Abbey's journals by David Petersen, a
long-time friend of Edward Abbey. This book is a must for anyone
interested in Edward Abbey.
"I celebrate the Earth, my home, my mother, my grave,
and as long as men are Man they must, if they would preserve
the integrated being, do the same -- [and preserve] with it
the body -- this rank casual hungry smelly sweaty lusting
transitory body, my oozy pulpy liquid-bag-swollen body,
bones, blood, hair, glands, my bejeweled sex; I love and
celebrate it all. Never to let men forget that they are
animals as much as gods -- that is one thing I shall say.
From the above, certain theorems naturally derive: If the
earth and the animal are valuable, then every earth-born man
and woman, every animal, has an inherent right to a portion
of this earth, to its produce, to its free air, its seas,
sands, mountains, deserts and sunrises -- this means some
kind of socialism, social justice, economic democracy,
decentralized, voluntary, cooperative; and a spacious
commonwealth, with lots of room for all (birth control) in
the Green Utopia. Here is something to fight for that will
never desert me in my lifetime."
Edward Abbey was an anarchist, activist, philosopher, and
the spiritual father of the environmental movement. He was
also a passionate journal keeper, a man who filled page after
page with notes, philosophical musings, character sketches,
illustrations, musical notations, and drawings. His
"scribbling," as he called it, began in 1948, when
he served as a motorcycle MP in postwar Italy, and continued
until his death in 1989, totaling twenty-one volumes.
His journals are the closest thing to an Abbey
autobiography we will ever have. They reveal his first
youthful philosophical ruminations about art, love,
literature, and anarchy as a student in Edinburgh; follow his
wanderings through Europe, Scandinavia, and the eastern
United States and finally to his spiritual home, the American
West; record his many loves and marriages; and chronicle his
lifelong struggle to preserve the disappearing southwestern
wilderness, as well as his bitter and often hilarious
disputes with the East Coast intelligentsia. His journals
contain the first inklings -- backgrounds, narrative
pictures, and sketches -- of his hard-hitting, popular,
irreverent published works. But perhaps most important, they
offer us a portrait of Abbey the man: the friend, enemy,
husband, lover, loner, writer, and fiery environmetalist who
forever changed the way we look at the American West.
Edited by Abbey's good friend, writer David Petersen,
Confessions of a Barbarian presents the best of these
previously unpublished journals for the first time,
illustrated with Abbey's own sketches.
Edward Abbey's last novel, Hayduke
Lives!, was published posthumously in 1991. David
Petersen is the author of a number of books on natural
history and the environment. He lives in the San Juan
Mountains near Durango, Colorado.