Desert is, literally, emptiness—its synonyms desolation, wasteland. To travel to the desert “in order to see it,” in order to experience it, is paradoxical. The desert remains an absence: the desert is this place I stand multiplied by infinite numbers—not this place particularly. So I come away each night convinced I have been to the holy desert (and have been humiliated by it) and that I have not been to the desert at all.

Richard Rodriguez, “The God of the Desert: Jerusalem and the Ecology of Monotheism”