desert Solitaire, I’m happy to add, contains no hidden meanings, no secret messages. it is no more than it appears to be, the plain and simple account of a long, sweet season lived in one of the world’s most splendid places.
if some might object that the book deals too much with mere appearances, with the surface of things, and fails to engage and reveal the patterns of unifying relationships that many believe form the true and underlying reality of existence, I can only reply that I am content with reality, with appearances. i know nothing about underlying reality, having never encountered any.
I’ve looked and I’ve looked, tried fasting, drugs, meditation, religious experience, even self-mortification, but never seem to get any closer to basic reality than the lizard on a rock, a hawk in the sky, a dead pig in the sunshine. Beneath each stone I find more stone; under the skirts of beauty I find only her delicious thighs; peeling an onion to the core I end up with nothing but the perfect complement to my hot skillet of fried eggs, diced chilies and hash brown turnips.
appearance is reality, I say, and more than most of us deserve. you whine and whimper after immortality beyond space-time?
come home, for God’s sake and enjoy this gracious earth of ours while you can.
you tell me that pretty girl yonder, lifting her dress to wade into the stream of love, is really nothing but a transient vortex of organic energy? okay, you contemplate the underlying relationships; I’ll take the girl.
- edward abbey, foreword, desert solitaire