Previous month:
September 2009
Next month:
November 2009

WB cited in populism essay

Populist Revival? | Front Porch Republic.
What would this kind of regional populism look like in an actual political platform? Broadly speaking, it would seek at every turn to end the dependence of its constituents on elites. It would oppose, for example, the nationalization of any sector of our economy, from health care to agriculture. Instead, it would seek creative ways to open regional markets for regional goods.

It would seek to permit regional cultural and religious particularities to emerge from the fog of federalized regulation and be made manifest in our schools, courthouses, businesses and civic organizations. And it would provide incentives to keep cultural capital local. It would encourage people to work, study and raise families close to where they grew up. It would seek ways to promote local culture and would cultivate loyalty to our neighbors and a fierce love for our own places.

But in the end, what this kind of vibrant regionalism requires is something much more difficult to obtain than a slogan. It is a renewed appreciation for society over and against both the individual and the state. Society defined by what the agrarian essayist Wendell Berry calls “membership” – a network of social interconnectedness and shared obligation. To be a member of this kind of social order is the best hedge against manipulation by the central planning committee for “growth” and “prosperity.” It is, to put it plainly, to be free. READ MORE ...

The WB Facebook thing

Barring a temporary shutdown to reorganize itself, it appears that the previously mentioned Wendell Berry page on Facebook has been deleted. I'm sincerely sorry to see this, since it cuts off more than 3,000 people from quick access to information from here, Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky. Needless to say, MWBoK is staying put, and I hope some of the old FB folks will find a way ("Subscribe to This Blog's Feed" anyone? ) to stay in touch.

I recommend that members of that apparently-defunct WB page sign on to The Wendell Berry Society (1601 members at present), which has always been admirably transparent in its creation and intentions.
Name: The Wendell Berry Society
Category: Organizations - Non-Profit Organizations
Description: For those who enjoy the work of the farmer-poet, Wendell Berry, and/or agree that we are steadily losing a part of what makes us human in our rush to embrace technology and uber-industrialism. For those that retain agrarian values in the face of mass development and rampant consumerism.
Privacy Type: Open: All content is public.

Epigraphical Berry "learning to give"

Music, Weightlessness, and the Waking Dream « The Great Whatsit.
I Dream My Father on the Shore

What I am learning to give you is my death. ~ Wendell Berry

Outside, beneath the light of late October’s candled sky
the weave of ash and maple burns. We stand silent on the graveled shore.
My father lifts his father’s ashes from its urn, a strangely heavy thing
he seems to say, his arms swaying, then casting out into the long dark
as if to throw a line, while we wait for some sound, a wave,
whatever marks the distance between a father and a son.

WB appearance in Michigan? (revised)

UPDATE: Sorry ... it is also not clear whether or not Mr. Berry will be actually present. All is unclear. Call the university for more info.

An event with Mr. Berry is scheduled for this coming Friday at GSVU in Allendale, MI. Can't tell whether or not this is open to the public.

Grand Valley State University.
Wendell Berry: Readings and Conversation
Date: Friday, October 23 12:00 PM-1:00 PM
Description: Berry, farmer, poet, essayist, novelist par excellence has been a radical conservationist and advocate for sustainability/eco-justice before these words were invented. Join us in reading and conversation around favorite Berry writings. Anticipate a live encounter with the unexpected with the hope that such "conversations will continue long afterword to provide good company, when, in our complex lives, we need to think through what we should do and who and how we should be;" knowing that this is how we must be "if we would be a democracy." (E. Minnich) READ MORE ...

Blog Watch: WB sighted and still alive

Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters News: Wendell Berry.
The other day Anna (former staff ) met Wendell Berry. Even though wasn't my experience, I was excited about that, because I think he's AWESOME, and I also thought he was dead. She wrote: no... he is very much alive. Brilliant, gracious, humble, and genuine are the words that come to mind... READ MORE (and see the photo) ...

Blog Watch: WB cited in review of Farm/Food book

Civil Eats » Blog Archive » A Nation of Farmers: A Handbook for Food System Revolutionaries.
Of course industrial ag is always ready to point the finger and call anyone who asks for more farmers slave-drivers demanding laborious work with hand tools, but in fact, small-scale polyculture means less stressful work, more diverse work, and personal incentives — like feeding your family, and building your community — which large-scale agriculture has lost. They also discuss the inconvenient truths, like that what industrial agriculture is feeding us are cheap calories, that there is more than enough food to go around, it is just not properly distributed, and that rural communities, in Wendell Berry’s words, are suffering in a modern day form of colonialism. READ MORE ...

Just posted to the WB Facebook page

I just posted the following to the Wendell Berry Facebook page because after searching "Wendell Berry Facebook" I discovered that the page description contains some serious inaccuracies.

Dear moderator of this FB page, I write with a simple request that, if at all possible, you change the public search description of this FB page so that it does NOT read "Welcome to the official Facebook Page of Wendell Berry. Get exclusive content and interact with Wendell Berry right from Facebook." This is very misleading. Based on some fan comments left here, it seems that people sometimes come here expecting to have some "interaction" with Mr. Berry ... and that's just not the case. Thanks again for setting up this page which brings my efforts at "Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky" to a much wider group.

Oh ... one other issue is this "exclusive content." Unless I'm missing something, there's nothing exclusive about what appears here (aside from fan comments). It all comes from MWBoK, which is also not exclusive but just me trolling the web for interesting bits. Thanks.

And now I'm just noticing another point which I failed to make in my post. The page is labeled "official" and I wonder what that could ever mean. I hope this can be quickly resolved ... especially since it involves the work of a man whose personal integrity in matters of life and language is well known.

WB cited by Kauffman in review

Book Review: "Hollowing Out the Middle" -
The sharpest insight in "Hollowing Out the Middle" is that "small towns play an unwitting role in their own decline" by inculcating, in school and too often at home, the belief that fulfilling one's promise means leaving for the city lights or the manicured suburbs. The purpose of education today, as Kentucky poet-farmer Wendell Berry argues, is to train young people to leave home. And so, the authors note, "the investment the community has made in them becomes a boon for someplace else." READ MORE ...

Just Found: WB cited in Hedges essay on food

Truthdig - Reports - Food Is Power and the Powerful Are Poisoning Us.

“It is clear to anyone who looks carefully at any crowd that we are wasting our bodies exactly as we are wasting our land,” Wendell Berry observed in “The Unsettling of America.”  “Our bodies are fat, weak, joyless, sickly, ugly, the virtual prey of the manufacturers of medicine and cosmetics. Our bodies have become marginal; they are growing useless like our ‘marginal land’ because we have less and less use for them. After the games and idle flourishes of modern youth, we use them only as shipping cartons to transport our brains and our few employable muscles back and forth to work.”

Berry, who lives on a farm in Kentucky where his family has farmed for generations, argues that local farming is fundamental to sustaining communities. Industrial farming, he says, has estranged us from the land. It has rendered us powerless to provide for ourselves. It has left us complicit in the corporate destruction of the ecosystem. Its moral cost, Berry argues, has been as devastating as its physical cost.

“The people will eat what the corporations decide for them to eat,” writes Berry. “They will be detached and remote from the sources of their life, joined to them only by corporate tolerance. They will have become consumers purely—consumptive machines—which is to say, the slaves of producers. What … model farms very powerfully suggest, then, is that the concept of total control may be impossible to confine within the boundaries of the specialist enterprise—that it is impossible to mechanize production without mechanizing consumption, impossible to make machines of soil, plants, and animals without making machines also of people.” READ MORE ...