Although Edward Abbey may not always depict the use of nature in ways that others would like, his honesty about the areas that he deems ‘not as natural as before’ intrigued me. In the beginning of Desert Solitaire, Abbey depicts the ways in which Arches National Park has changed, facilitated by the publicity of the park to the public. Before Abbey left the first time, he characterized Arches as “a preserve of space and stillness and virgin air for all things” (Abbey 12). Although I have not continued enough into the book where Abbey expands on this thought, he mentions he is going to do so, and I think the ‘before’ and ‘after’ perspective will hold a good amount of truth within it.
As much as many might not want to or cannot admit this, Abbey is the one who holds both perspectives. And after seeing the destruction through construction, it gives individuals perspectives on this relevant issue. Without development, many of us today might not know the landscapes we characterize as “National Parks”. But a National Park as we know it is not the same as the man who originally discovered it. As this issue will change for different protected landscapes, you are bound to cherish the original perspective as there will not be another one of those.
That is what makes me think Edward Abbey is so interesting. Even though he did not find Arches himself, he knows Arches and knows what the changes are doing to the environment. At the same time, what Abbey does is ironic, because just as Arches once was an undeveloped unknown piece of land, changes most likely have been made (like cottages built and water systems put into place) to account for human life on the land. And as humans become more attracted to the land, more changes have to be made. It is a never-ending cycle that Abbey himself is a part of. Furthermore, I think that as Abbey writes his book, he will be honest in his depiction of the land, and depiction of what is to come with the continuation of development.