There are certainly beautiful things in the desert. Striking rock formations, poetic ripples of sand, wide scenic views. But ultimately what is most attractive about the desert is what isn’t there. It’s the lack of conventionally beautiful objects, both natural and man-made, that makes it compelling.
City folk like me seek out the desert for its arid expanse of nothingness. Surround yourself with sand, rocks, and sparse shrubbery and it will be clear to you how little is going on around you. But paradoxically, you’ll also find the many fine details of nature brought into clear focus. The striking contrast of the desert makes the simple beauty of nature an overwelming experience.
Just as there can be no light without darkness, no life without death, it is the absense or loss of aesthetic information that elevates simple beauty into a sublime experience.