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July 2010

Blog Watch: Review Of Wendell Berry’s "What Matters?"

In much the same way that Michael Pollan has told us in recent years not to trust our nutrition to the nutritionists, essayist, sage, and father of modern agrarian thought, Wendell Berry, instructs us that we should never have trusted our economy to economists. At least not to the ones who have been (mis)handling it for the last hundred years or so.

In his collection of new and renewed essays, What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth, Berry lays out clearly and concisely the hows and whys of our modern system’s failures, but far from being all doom and gloom, he points the way to a properly prioritized economy. It may at times feel a bit Utopian, but it is perfectly plausible, sustainable, logical and, in the end, necessary.


Blog Watch: Wendell Berry on fossil fuel assumptions

(Driven to Destruction is a series outlining how America became so dependent on the personal automobile, and how we must break this dependency if we want to create a sustainable way of life for future generations.)

Wendell Berry is a farmer and author who writes on issues of agriculture, the environment, and sustainability. In his 1997 essay "Energy in Agriculture," he blames the rise of fossil fuels for the damaging shift from family farms to industrial agriculture. He then connects this transformation in agricultural practices to the all-conmsuming oil addiction that is slowly bringing America to her knees – calling it theft from future generations:


Recent development in mountaintop removal policy

WASHINGTON, DC, June 17, 2010 (ENS) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today suspended the use of a fast-track nationwide permit, Nationwide Permit 21, for mountaintop removal mining operations in the six states of the Appalachian region.

Now, proposed surface coal mining projects that involve discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States will have to go through the individual permit process to obtain Department of the Army authorization under the Clean Water Act.


Wendell Berry's "Generosity: The Bringer of Water, Part II"?

"Generosity: The Bringer of Water, Part II" will be presented by The Lewis County Theatre Guild on the evening of July 9, 2010, beginning at 8 p.m.

The George Morgan Thomas Home at the corner of Third and Main Streets in Vanceburg will again provide the outdoor venue for the next installment of "The Bringer of Water," performed by the Guild in July 2009.

Based on characters created by famed Kentucky writer Wendell Berry and directed by Kayla Stafford and Mike Holder, the play focuses on the lives of farmers in rural Kentucky, the themes of family and membership, and brings back the same cast of characters.


I had to read this article very closely to determine that the work in question is written by Mr. Berry. I'm fairly sure that it is, but that point is nowhere set forth as a fact.

Urban farming in Detroit

People in Detroit, America’s idled Motor City, stumble upon the Earthworks Urban Farm from a variety of places. “I came in through the soup kitchen line,” recalled Willie Spivey on a weekday morning working in the Earthworks greenhouse, nodding toward the Capuchin soup kitchen just across the parking lot. He was carefully tapping out speckled Amish lettuce seeds into a planter box. “I was reaping the benefits of their labor,” he added with a chuckle, pointing to the smiling volunteers beside him.


Sorry, I forgot that a subscription is required.

Blog Watch: Jayber Crow on governance

"My [barber]shop was a democracy if ever anyplace was. Whoever came I served and let stay as long as they wanted to. Whatever they said or did while they were there I had either to deal with or put up with. ... The problem of governing the place was right there in front of me when I started in. I knew that if it got rough I couldn't call the police; we didn't have any police in Port William. And so from the beginning I held to pretty correct behavior in my shop." --Jayber Crow, in Jayber Crow


Blog Watch: Reading WB's 'Leavings'

As I picked up Berry’s book of poetry in the Morgantown Barnes & Noble, I felt like I was reading letters and reflections from an old friend, someone who has seen all of the ill of our myriad technological advances and increased consumption habits and tried to resist in the simple yet profound protest of farming a small plot of land and subsisting off those offerings.


Blog Watch: Mr. Silliman excepting Mr. Berry

9. What has technology done for or to Poetry?

It killed the novel. More accurately, the literary novel dissolved between modernism, its genre derivatives & the rise first of film, then television, as a medium for communicating stories. People seriously using the form today – DeLillo, Lethem, Auster, Pynchon, Maso, Markson (who died earlier this week), Acker (who died 13 years ago) – are rare birds indeed. I take them very seriously because they have no particular concern about the future of the novel and are driven by the best of internal reasons.

Poetry was prodded into the 20th century by the existence of the typewriter, without which The Cantos could not have existed. Poets who write as though the typewriter has yet to be invented strike me as curiously pathological – a few of them fall into the same category as those novelists above (Wendell Berry, say), but most are simply ignorant or disdainful of history, which also means the history of our own time, even as they write quatrains filled with oily pelicans.


Blog Watch: Wendell Berry writes to students

Dear Friends,

Your teacher, Ms. Linsley, has written to tell me about your writing class, and to ask if I might have something encouraging to say to you. This is an assignment that I take seriously, and I have been asking myself what you should hear, at this time in your lives, from an older writer.


Be sure to click the link and read the whole letter!