From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"How often when I was installed in the desert . . . I would imagine myself taking part in the gay life of Rome! . . . Although my only companions were scorpions and wild beasts, time and again I was mingling with the dances of girls. My face was pallid with fasting and my body chill, but my mind was throbbing with desires; my flesh was as good as dead, but the flames of lust raged in it." --Jerome, recalling his life of desert asceticism, quoted in J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome: His Life, Writings and Controversies, page 52., translation F. A. Wright
"Western religions are typified by hardship and austerity stemming from a harsh desert climate, while Eastern religions are characterized by abundance of low-hanging fruit in lush forests and valleys." --J. W. Geerinck
The desert is generally thought of as a barren and empty landscape. It has been portrayed by writers, film-makers, philosophers, artists and critics as a place of extremes, a metaphor for anything from death, war or religion to the primitive past or the desolate future.
There is an extensive literature on the subject of deserts. An early historical account is that of Marco Polo (c. 1254–1324), who travelled through Central Asia to China, crossing a number of deserts in his twenty four year trek. Some accounts give vivid descriptions of desert conditions, though often accounts of journeys across deserts are interwoven with reflection, as is the case in Charles Montagu Doughty's major work, Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888). Antoine de Saint-Exupéry described both his flying and the desert in Wind, Sand and Stars and Gertrude Bell travelled extensively in the Arabian desert in the early part of the 20th century, becoming an expert on the subject, writing books and advising the British government on dealing with the Arabs.
- Desert Fathers
- Desert Mothers
- Desert island
- Desert religion
- Saint Jerome in the Desert
- Human life in deserts