The Spirit of Rebellion Ecotage The War Against the Machines and Automatons in Edward Abbey

Ünügür Çalışkan D.

The International Institute of Social and Economic Sciences, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 3 - 06 February 2013, pp.110-111

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Buenos Aires
  • Country: Argentina
  • Page Numbers: pp.110-111
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Dilek Caliskan The Spirit of Rebellion:Ecotage, The War Against the Machines and Automatons in Edward Abbey's novel The Monkey Wrench Gang Abstract: The Spirit of Rebellion: Ecotage, The War Against Machines and Automatons in Edward Abbeys The Monkey Wrench Gang Edward Abbey as an environmentalist and a life writer uses crime and madness, in his novel The Monkey Wrench Gang in order to show the condition of the individual trapped in the hegemonistic capitalist American society, which has become schizophrenic. This violent patriarchal society does not only consume itself and its individuals, but also consumes nature both human and inhuman, so Abbey explains the necessity for sabotage which has nothing to do with terrorism. Terrorism he says means deadly violence for a political and/or economic purpose carried out against people and other things. He draws parallels to the government persecuting their own people, to bulldozers tearing up an area of trees and plants. Wilderness can only be defended through sabotage which , says Abbey, is an act of force or violence against material objects, machinery, in which life is endangered. Nature, as the sole treasure of the human beings is used and abused with the created myths and success stories about growth. Nature , the life giving source turns out to be monstreous and becomes the fountain of pain and trauma. With its focus on industrialism, the society with all of its institutions is like an evergrowing mega machine consisting of smaller political units controlled by the authorities and each unit controlling and dismembering the other. There is the necessity of opposition to the gigantic and fantastically complex social machine that modern nations have become. It is the American Dream that turned into a nightmare with people like Bishop Love, who is controlling the desert, the maze , ironically, the only place where the gang members felt themselves free. The aim of this study is to analyze the novel in the light of existentialist psychiatrist R.D. Laings definition of madness in order to understand the psychology of the gang members Seldom Seen Smith , Doc Sarvis, Bonnie and George Washington Hayduke, who refuse to become automatons. Abbey was a man in perpetual rebellion against himself, against the status quo, and against the mediocrity of the past that crushed the human spirit. It is the spirit what can be learned from Abbey and Hayduke the mad leader of The Monkey Wrench Gang. Wilderness is an important part of Civilization and must be preserved. The landscape made America uniqely American. The essential America has been for writers and critics exurban , green, pastoral, even wild. In American literature, nature was americanized and idealized and heroes were created to inhabit it. Hayduke, Smith and as well as Abbey are the animal like figures who inhabit the American ladscapes. They are like the indegenous people of North America, who learned how to survive in the wild American landscape by observing the living styles and techniques of the animals peculiar to that scene. Hayduke and Seldom seen Smith are heroic figures, like Edward Abbey himself. As, some of the heroes created themselves, calling on nature as a referent for their autobiographical self-definition. Sometimes the relationship between nature and narrator was harmonous. So, in Abbeys ecobiographical style ,the nature becomes an identfiying canvas on which to write a self. Abbeys desert, his solitude ,(his carefully constructed self). The desert must remain wild, indifferent, isolated, unpaved: closed  to tourists, although he himself hopes to return to it. Metaphorically, the mad Hayduke as the mountain lion, Seldom Seen Smith as the monkey and Abbey an antromorphic figure in an animal body in his self-portrait experience themselves as automata.