Remember how just a few days ago I mentioned that I was divesting myself of 50% of what I own, except of course, in the realm of books. I also mentioned that my bookcases had a bit of room in them. Ahem. Wellll, I went to the library on lunch break this week, and lo and behold, they had FREE books. Also, two for .25 across all genre library discards. (whistles innocently). What?!? Okay, okay (imagine Joe Pesci here, but with a soft Southern tone and female). I picked up some good stuffs! Things I’d never spend money on, but that piqued my unbounded curiosity. Erotica. Classical Literature. Old-time gardening books. Even novels that I’d never buy, despite an affinity with the authors. I’ll admit publicly that I am incorrigible when it comes to books. But hey, would you turn down Hemingway, Dreiser, Shakespeare or Dickens for free or even .12 a tome? I think not! Enough nattering, I’m taking away from the author of the week.
The atmosphere, the earth, the water and the water cycle – those things are good gifts. The ecosystems, the ecosphere, those are good gifts. We have to regard them as gifts because we couldn’t make them. We have to regard them as good gifts because we couldn’t live without them. ~ Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry , writer, activist, farmer, poet, saw what was coming in our society back before it was ‘L33t (that’s an old school gamer shout-out) or PC to see it. He recognized the Western,capitalism-at-all-costs proclivity to turn humans into capital only, lacking soul and personhood. He foresaw the calamity to both land and people that is industrialized farming today. He greatly understands the value of non-academic intelligence and a love for the land; the dirt under our feet that is constantly paved, plundered, poisoned or developed. He visualized the future, when rural communities would be driven to abandonment in order to make a buck, and the soul-draining proclivity of cities. It isn’t that cities are inherently bad, but rather, that we need balance; appreciation and value for all aspects of our diversity, both culturally and land-use wise.
We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it, we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.
~ Wendell Berry
If you’ve been reading me for more than two months, you know my personal preference is to live remotely and grow/hunt/wild harvest as much of my food as possible; self-sufficiency and community are equally important, along with light footprints on the land.
I’m not Christian, but despite that undertone in Berry’s works, I find his rational thinking spot on. He has a wrap-around grasp of the continuity of land, food, water, man that is desperately needed today, before we genetically manipulate ourselves into extinction, or deplete our resources due to incessant consumerism.
If we can’t afford to take good care of the land that feeds us, we’re in an insurmountable mess.
What would I recommend of his writings? Nearly every bit of his non-fiction pieces. Premier in my thinking, from his collection of essays titled “What Are People For?” – I would extract “Waste”, “A Practical Harmony”, “An Argument for Diversity“, and “Economy and Pleasure”. As a whole, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. If you’d like a quick overview of his thinking before buying or checking out his works, a good representation is found here: Wendell Berry: A Strong Voice for Local Farming and the Land.
If you are already familiar with Berry, what is your favorite piece? If he’s new to you, please come back and let us know your thoughts after reading.
I leave you with this quote of his, which sums up, for me, the entirety of our requisite philosophy at this time and place in history:
We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough?
Think. Do. Be. I wish you…enough.