September 04, 2012

Ed Abbey Before He Eds You


Labor Day highlights include: grandson dumping a full glass of water all over me (and my iPad). No iPads were harmed during that little experiment. Another was him writing on one of the pages in my "Diaries of Edward Abbey", a beautiful multi-hued design (signs of early genius...see above). Funny since it opened me up to start reading this Abbey book (I'd bought it ages ago because it was cheap at a sale but never read it. How many books I have in a similar situation!)
Compulsively readable, here are some random comments:
"Inbreeding. My Gawd, even the country-western singers are singing songs about country-western songs. Just like the highbrow literati, writing their novels about writing novels. (E.g., Garp, etc..)"
*
"I must tell what I think to be the truth in this Journal, no matter what the cost. No matter whom it hurts or how much. For if I don't tell the honest truth, this book will not be worth a damn to me in the future.
Why should the truth be painful? Because I lead a double life. Because there is a part of me that wants to be good, to be kind and generous and gnelte with others...Because there is that other part or faculty or demon, my cynic self sitting on my left shoulder, seeing into myself or others, or merely observing unpleasant externalities, and reporting harshly and directly what is under observation.
Why cannot the two be combined? Insight and candor should not, ultimately, be the enemies of love. Right. But the key word is "ultimately." Time, depth, intensity. At some point in the heart of the object the two - analysis and sympathy - converage and meet."
*
"I must write my travel piece. Boredom! Writing for 'National Geographic' is liek trying to jerk off while wearing ski mitts."
*
"Censorship and pornography: the cure is worse than the disease. Why is porn so popular? Why this immense sex frustatration among men? The boredom of life in an industrial society."
*
"Old bod breaking down. Hubris. My debauchery and arrogance have finally overtaken me. Thought I had the wolrd by the balls; now Fate has a hard grasp on my balls. Character and fate: A man's fate is his character (Heraclitus). By the age of forty, a man is responsible for his face (Abbey) , AND his fate. I think." (1985)
*
"I do not want to become a grouchy, growling, grumpy old man. Do not want to become crankly and quarrelsome. Would rather be like some Zen saint, cheerful and careless and reckless and foolish and generous and patient and somewhat detached and comical and ironical and imical (not inimical) and spry and relaxed...."
*
"It's his work that makes the artist interesting to us. But then why, after a while, do we begin to find the artist more interesting than his work?"
*
"We're all going to die anyhow. Each of us owes the Earth a life, a body. Every little bit helps."
*
"No wonder I can't sleep some nights. I suffer too - from guilt. And regret. And bitterness. And petty resentments. And all the other little miserable sins the flesh is heir to. I envy the Catholics with their confessionals, though they show no sign of being happier, or less evil, than any others. How can I free myself from the bondage of these passions?"
*
"The tragic fallacy of 'Joy of Sex' and all other such training manuals is that what a man really desires is not 144 different positions, but 144 different women."
*
"Drinking too much again: insulting cell tissues, all them brain cells rotting away, cirrhosis of the liver, kidney stones, the shakes - Jesus Christ! Gimme a drink!"
*
"...'Playboy' and 'Penthouse' ... [are] exploiters of men."

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