While mulling over these questions I stumbled upon a collection of essays by Wendell Berry titled Standing by Words. I found it in one of the few remaining old used book shops in Boulder, Colorado – the kind of place that is made of goat trails through stacks of books lit yellow and smelling of musty paper. In it, Berry wrote nearly thirty years ago (a span of time that seems ancient by today’s micro-measures of time) about this tension between true knowing and informational exchange in an essay titled “People, Land, and Community.” He writes,
People are joined to the land by work. Land, work, people, and community are all comprehended in the idea of culture. These connections cannot be understood or described by information – so many resources to be transformed by so many workers into so many products for so many consumers – because they are not quantitative. We can understand them only after we acknowledge that they should be harmonious - that a culture must be either shapely and saving or shapeless and destructive.
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