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Blog Watch: WB and roads

Front Porch Republic » Blog Archive » “On the Grid”: When Electricity (and Other Things) Came to the Countryside.
At the same time, however, I fear that we often have a tendency to confuse scale per se with content. I recall a conversation I had some time ago with a committed fan of Wendell Berry. We were talking about alternative approaches to rural development, and I must have set off some alarm bells for my friend with the suggestion that more networks among communities were crucial. We got into a debate about whether the mere fact of building a road to an isolated village does it some harm, or whether the real problem is what happens to lie at the opposite end of the road. I am inclined to think that if at the other end lies another village of similar disposition, then connecting them can only multiply their strengths. If so, then the best thing anyone can do for places like Pomatambo is not to oppose roads, but to make sure that more roads—and perhaps most crucially, more of the early roads—lead to other villages rather than to Babylon. READ MORE ...

A place for the critical

This recent Comments exchange seems significant enough for me to post it generally for wider consideration. Several people have commented positively on this site's linking to recent blog posts that are critical of Mr. Berry's thought. I appreciate that, but am also attentive to those who think such negative takes on WB should have no place here. Smith's comment is very helpful to me.

Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky: Blog Watch: A problem with WB.
Is this the third rant from this "terrierman" that has been linked to from this page lately? Who is this blogger-nobody who thinks he can touch the modern-day Emerson that is Mr. Wendell Berry? Stop giving him attention.
Posted by: Smith | 07/31/2009 at 01:52 AM

Hello! A little looking around tells us that "terrierman" is one Patrick Burns, who has written a book called "American Working Terriers."

 One of my (of course self-defined) missions with this site, "Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky," has been to make easily accessible whatever WB-related material may appear on the web. And I get to make the call on what is substantial, relevant, and interesting among the various things that pop up. But I don't assume that readers here will always agree with my editorial choices.

My experience with WB material on the web has shown that the vastest amount of it is respectful of the man and his work; some of it is worshipful; much is redundant. But only a very small portion is critical to the degree that Mr. Burns' posts have been.

If Mr. Burns were being blatantly obscene or ignorant in his posting, I'd have no problem with ignoring him. But he is clearly trying to construct a rational explanation of some flaws he sees in Mr. Berry's thought (as he understands it). If we find flaws in Mr. Burns' thought, we should probably point them out ... as Brad East has done so well at ... point them out or ignore them as we choose.

Thanks very much for raising this issue. Maybe it's time for me to be more explicit about my intentions and editorial policies behind this site. As all-consumed as it is with "Everything WB" ... and maybe because of this ... it is not a cultic shrine. I don't believe Mr. Berry would want it to be.
Posted by: brtom | 07/31/2009 at 08:33 AM

Blog Watch: WB and water

New Dream Blog » Blog Archive » AM Inspiration: Sudden Summer Streams - Kids and Water.
The joy that kids get out of water is something natural, almost primordial, perhaps sprung from deep memory like this poem by Wendell Berry.

Water by Wendell Berry

I was born in a drouth year. That summer
my mother waited in the house, enclosed
in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind,
for the men to come back in the evenings,
bringing water from a distant spring.


Blog Watch: A problem with WB

- Terrierman's Daily Dose - Organic and Local Farming by the Numbers.
The little "joker in the deck" with Wendell Berry is that if we were to try to "eat local and eat organic" from the commercial crops he grows, we would starve to death in short order.

What was amazing about the Wendell Berry post was how many responses it engendered from people who seemed to think America is full of farms growing organic fruits and vegetables. Just go down to your local road-side vegetable stand to pick up locally-grown produce.


What road-side stand?


Against NAIS

Op-Ed Contributor - Tag, We’re It - Pitfalls of an Animal ID System -

At a time when diseases like mad cow and bird flu have made consumers worried about food safety, being able to quickly track down the cause of an outbreak seems like a good idea. Unfortunately, the plan, which is called the National Animal Identification System and is the subject of a House subcommittee hearing today, would end up rewarding the factory farms whose practices encourage disease while crippling small farms and the local food movement. READ MORE ...

I think I missed this ground-level critique of NAIS when it appeared last March. FYI.

WB : Madison, WI : October

Wendell Berry to headline 2009 Wisconsin Book Festival | Features | Reading | Madison | Decider.

According to Wisconsin Book Festival director Alison Jones Chaim, Wendell Berry will headline the 2009 fest on October 11 at Overture Center’s Capitol Theater. READ MORE ...

"Wendell Berry a coup for Wisconsin Book Festival" (77 Square, 30 July 2009)

"Countdown to Wendell Berry and Wisconsin Book Festival" (

Blog Watch: WB notices

Some thoughts of work, worry, and Wendell Berry | Metamorpha Blog.

So this morning I got to grappling with this whole bundle of thoughts about anxiety, worry, ambition, prayer, ego, and peace, and along the way Wendell Berry somehow entered the conversation. This Kentucky farmer/poet has played an important role in helping me pay attention, no easy task in this world. In my opinion he is great example of what Annie Dillard calls “a detective of divinity” in the world. He just seems to notice things that others miss. His words have such an un-settling, but generous way. READ MORE ...

Blog Watch: pro WB - on evitability

Resident Theology: Letting His Words Trouble Our Thoughts: On How to Read Wendell Berry, Modern America's Prophet of the Evitable.

A recent piece written in response to Berry's work as a whole is an excellent example and a helpful reminder. It is an example of the sort of "all or nothing" mindset that usually characterizes an initial or sustained confrontation with Berry, and a reminder both of why that ought not to be our mindset when approaching his work and of how to go wrong when evaluating his thought. READ MORE ...

Blog Watch: style, audience, & WB

Dry Creek Chronicles » Blog Archive » Tradition and Innovation, Part 5.
Wendell Berry strikes me as a writer who is completely unconcerned with developing an audience, and who chooses to write in a plain and direct style that would have been unremarkable in the early twentieth century, but is definitely an acquired taste for the twenty-first century reader. Berry’s natural audience is gone, and those who are driven to read him must struggle with the clash between his old-fashioned style and their modern expectations. READ MORE ...