Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wendell Berry Is a Genius

Check this out:

Conservative rugged individualists and liberal rugged individualists believe alike that they should be "free" to get as much as they can of whatever they want. Their major doctrinal difference is that they want (some of the time) different sorts of things.

"Every man for himself" is a doctrine for a feeding frenzy or for a panic in a burning nightclub, appropriate for sharks or hogs or perhaps a cascade of lemmings. A society wishing to endure must speak the language of care-taking, faith-keeping, kindness, neighborliness, and peace. That language is another precious resource that cannot be "privatized." ("Rugged Individualism," in The Way of Ignorance and Other Essays by Wendell Berry)


I've read Wendell Berry in small bits to date, in part because that's how I'm inclined to read, in part because that's how he's inclined to write. "I am a small writer as I am a small farmer" is how he describes himself in this collection of essays. If you can get as incisive as quickly as the above pair of paragraphs suggests, more power to you.

4 comments:

John Pattison said...

Dave,

How great that your blog came up through my Google alert for Wendell Berry.

John Pattison

David A. Zimmerman said...

More to come, I'm sure. Our paths keep crossing, John!

John Pattison said...

They seem to, yeah.

I'm a huge Wendell Berry fan - hence the Google alert. I'm reviewing his latest collection of poetry for the next issue of Relevant.

John

Lance said...

"When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know."

Livin' the life of a poet. What an example.