Monday, May 14, 2012


A Ruthless, Brutal Process

John Donne, Meditation XVII:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
Edward Abbey, "The Dead Man at Grandview Point," from Desert Solitaire:
Each man's death diminishes me? Not necessarily. Given this man's age, the inevitability and suitability of his death, and the essential nature of life on earth, there is in each of us the unspeakable conviction that we are well rid of him. His departure makes room for the living. Away with the old, in with the new. He is gone—we remain, others come. The plow of mortality drives through the stubble, turns over rocks and sod and weeds to cover the old, the worn-out, the husks, shells, empty seedpods and sapless roots, clearing the field for the next crop. A ruthless, brutal process—but clean and beautiful.
According to James M. Cahalan, Edward Abbey: A Life (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001), p. 68, the date of this episode was August 11-12, 1957, and the man died at Upheaval Dome, not Grandview Point. See "Lost Stockton Man Found Dead," Lodi News-Sentinel, Thursday, August 15, 1957, p. 5, with the dateline "Moab, Utah, Aug. 14—(UPS)," retrieved from Google News Archive:
The body of a Stockton, Calif., man lost since last weekend when he walked into a rugged mountain area near here, was found by a search party today.
The man, Clinton Kjar, 69, apparently died from a heart attack, authorities said. His body was found in the Upheaval Dome area of Grand county in Southern Utah.
Kjar was a government food processor in Stockton.
Related post: Cactus Ed's Funeral Instructions.

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