The Automobile is Not an Unmitigated Blessing

[Letter excerpt July 23, 1949]

Our summer has been very cool until now, and to keep from snapping the thin and frayed thread of a precarious sanity I walk about in the hills on weekends. Surprise, surprise! Every Saturday I got lost – utterly, hopelessly, and completely, that is, taking eight or 12 hours to extricate myself each time. That is because as soon as one gets over the high ridge back of Rock Canyon one is in a trackless wilderness of cliffs and gorges. I never dreamed there was anything like that back there, and if I had not been fortunate enough to be without a car this summer would perhaps never have discovered that wonderful world behind the first range. Which proves that the automobile is not an unmitigated blessing: I bought a car last year with the hopes of discovering such an area, and lo, that was the one thing that stood in the way of its discovery. What surprises me more than anything is the absolute wildness of the country: in all my wanderings I have not met upon one other person, the Wasatch runs into the Uinta back of Heber (goal and haven of that celebrated flier known as the Heber Creeper) and the whole region is simply a vast lunar emptiness. We have to thank our main highways for this – they are symbolic of our civilization: where the highway doesn’t take you isn’t worth going, what you see from the highway is all you see and there ain’t no more.

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About Hugh Nibley

Hugh Nibley, 1910-2005, was simultaneously the LDS Church's greatest intellectual defender from attack from the outside and Mormon culture's strongest critic from the inside. This blog is composed mainly from Nibley's unpublished writings, letters, interviews and conversations, with occasional posts from associates who had personal interactions with him.
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One Response to The Automobile is Not an Unmitigated Blessing

  1. Ignacio M. Garcia says:

    I have had a chance to drive across the country several times and enjoy the ride, but sometimes just walking on the Provo River behind my house brings me experiences and joys that I never got while in the car. But I do admit that for those long trips in which I take my time and allow myself to explore, the car has been wonderful. For several years my wife and grandson and I travel this great land and it allowed us to bond in way that an open range would not have. But, yes, for being alone and thinking and just enjoying, nothing like walking.

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