I maintain / I insist
Excerpted from Abbey’s Road by Edward Abbey, ©1979:
I camped that first night near the Olga Mountains, strange hoodoo domes and humps of monolithic, barren sandstone, similar in origin to Ayers Rock but different in color and shape, a little higher, and much more extensive in total area. They looked even older than the Rock, of a disturbing antiquity, relics seen across an incomprehensible gulf of time. The geologists, the earth scientists, have given us a beautiful and elaborate picture of the planet’s formation and development; they have constructed a time scheme with which they can diagram, as with an overlay, each evolutionary step in the long process. But all that, I maintain, is merely information. It is not knowledge; even less is it understanding. Knowledge and understanding, though based on information as an essential component, require more, namely, feeling, intuition, physical contact– touching, and sympathy, and love. It is possible for a man and woman to know and understand one another, in this complete sense. It is possible to know, though to a lesser degree, other living things– birds, animals, plants. It is even possible to know, through love, a place, a certain landscape, a river, canyon, mesa, mountain. (Nobody ever fell in love with a rock, you say? Nonsense. Bullshit. Many of us have fallen in love with rocks. You don’t think I lived for so long in the American Southwest because I wanted to be near Phoenix, or Barry Goldwater, or Glen Canyon Dam, do you?) But knowledge– I insist– is not possible through science alone.