A Wise Man of the American West

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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part I of XII

“One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.”

Below – Serene Lake and Mount Hood.
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part II of XII

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence . . .
We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”

Below – Tenmile Range above Silverthorne, Colorado.
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part III of XII

“Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable.”

Below – Silverton, Colorado.
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part IV of XII

“If there is such a thing as being conditioned by climate and geography, and I think there is, it is the West that has conditioned me. It has the forms and lights and colors that I respond to in nature and in art. If there is a western speech, I speak it; if there is a western character or personality, I am some variant of it; if there is a western culture in the small-c, anthropological sense, I have not escaped it. It has to have shaped me. I may even have contributed to it in minor ways, for culture is a pyramid to which each of us brings a stone.”
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part V of XII

“If you could forget mortality… You could really believe that time is circular, and not linear and progressive as our culture is bent on proving. Seen in geological perspective, we are fossils in the making, to be buried and eventually exposed again for the puzzlement of creatures of later eras.”
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part VI of XII

“After a day and a half or so the traveler will realize that crossing the continent by Interstate he gets to know the country about as well as a cable messenger knows the sea bottom.”

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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part VII of XII

“Be proud of every scar on your heart, each one holds a lifetime’s worth of lessons.”

Below – Lauren Domsky: “Beauty of a Broken Heart.”
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part VIII of XII

“Youth hasn’t got anything to do with chronological age. It’s times of hope and happiness.”

Below – My ancient self with my youthful students at the base of Mount Kanchenjunga in Sikkim, India.
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part IX of XII

“[The modern age] knows nothing about isolation and nothing about silence. In our quietest and loneliest hour the automatic ice-maker in the refrigerator will cluck and drop an ice cube, the automatic dishwasher will sigh through its changes, a plane will drone over, the nearest freeway will vibrate the air. Red and white lights will pass in the sky, lights will shine along highways and glance off windows. There is always a radio that can be turned to some all-night station, or a television set to turn artificial moonlight into the flickering images of the late show. We can put on a turntable whatever consolation we most respond to, Mozart or Copland or the Grateful Dead.”

Below – Cartoon by Gary Hovland.
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part X of XII

“Salt is added to dried rose petals with the perfume and spices, when we store them away in covered jars, the summers of our past.”
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part XI of XII

“His clock was set on pioneer time. He met trains that had not yet arrived, he waited on platforms that hadn’t yet been built, beside tracks that might never be laid.”
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Speaking for America with a Western Accent: Quotes from the work of Wallace Stegner – Part XII of XII

“The mountains of the Great Divide are not, as everyone knows, born treeless, though we always think of them as above timberline with the eternal snows on their heads. They wade up through ancient forests and plunge into canyons tangled up with water-courses and pause in little gem-like valleys and march attended by loud winds across the high plateaus, but all such incidents of the lower world they leave behind them when they begin to strip for the skies: like the Holy Ones of old, they go up alone and barren of all circumstance to meet their transfiguration.”

Below – Continental Divide looking west down Elk Creek, San Juan Mountains, Colorado.
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