As interesting and provocative as the cultural geography might be, the desert may serve as the backdrop for the problematic relationship between man and the environment. The human struggle, the successes and failures, the use and abuse, both noble and foolish, are readily apparent in the desert. Symbols and relationships seem to arise that stand for the human condition itself. It is a simple, if almost incomprehensible equation: the world is as terrible as it is beautiful, but when you look more closely, it is as beautiful as it is terrible. We must maintain constant vigilance, to protect the world from ourselves, and to embrace the world as it exists.
Desert Cantos (University of New Mexico Press, 1987)