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Notes from "Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson"

My friend Kate invited me to listen to Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson speak at the State Theater on Sunday afternoon. These two guys are so insightful, intelligent, curious, and inspiring. They spoke of the land, of agriculture, of fuel and food and earth. I took notes – these are just a few poetic things that were said.

  • We didn’t know what we were doing because we didn’t know what we were UNdoing. (Speaking of cultivating the land, changing ecosystems, etc.)
  • We need to keep money out of trouble.


Jim Powell on Wendell Berry in 3P Review

Wendell and Tanya Berry set apart an area of land on the periphery of their Kentucky hillside property, when they settled there in 1964, as a wild preserve permanently removed from cultivation. It was a usage stemming from the agricultural tradition Berry was born into—self-sufficient domestic diversified farming, as practiced in Henry County by five generations of Berrys. Because the industrialized monocrop agriculture that replaced it prefers large uniform fields, progress came late to this intricate terrain. By the time Berry returned there to settle, Henry County’s economically marginalized status in the new scheme of things made it a likely place to find a pocket of land to reclaim for the practice of a new-style old-style agriculture.


Mark Mitchell announces "New Wendell Berry Book"

At long last The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry is available. This volume, published by ISI Books and co-edited by yours truly and Nathan Schlueter, includes sixteen original essays on various facets of Berry’s work as well as an open letter written to Berry by his teacher and friend Wallace Stegner. An array of FPR writers contributed essays including Allan Carlson, Jason Peters, Patrick Deneen, Mark Shiffman, Caleb Stegall, D.G. Hart, Rod Dreher, and myself. You can order this book from ISI at a special discounted price of $14.95.


Wendell Berry considered in Joanna Campbell's "Find out what you're staying for"

We Americans are a people both fascinated and horrified by the notion of commitment. Note the most common sitcom plots, the predictable trajectories of our celebrity marriages, even the myth of the American hero striking out, away from the familiar, toward an unknown future. What is it about commitment that is so frightening, yet so compelling? Commitment scares us because the truth does. At least Wendell Berry suggests something like that:

“Because the condition of marriage is worldly and its meaning communal, no one party to it can be solely in charge. What you alone think it ought to be, it is not going to be. Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you -- and marriage, time, life, history, and the world -- will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way.


Blog Watch: "An Afternoon with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson"

I just went to one of the first event's of Austin's Eat Drink Local Week, An Afternoon with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson. It was billed as an unrehearsed, earnest conversation between two of the most influential architects of the sustainable food movement, and that it was, splashed with some equally unscripted humor between the two long-time friends and moderator, Marla Camp.


Wendell Berry cited in "Seeking a land ethic among the mining debates"

If you ask people in this country what are their most important relationships, I doubt few would include their relationship with the land. Most might not even be conscious they have one.

And yet how we relate to land — how we value it — underpins most of our personal and communal lives. The same is true of any culture. Whether people are aware of it or not, what they eat and drink, their health, their healthcare system, where they live, their transportation, their property rights, their farming practices, their religion and much else look significantly different depending on how their culture values the land.


Wendell Berry cited in "An appeal for political imagination"

What message would it send our enemies if the world's foremost military superpower had the audacity -- the seeming foolishness -- to indeed drop food instead of bombs? If we reallocated a slim percentage from the fifth of the federal budget that pours into defense to the 1 percent trickling into foreign aid? This is "denounced as impractical" and "does not afford opportunities for profit," yet it "involves danger to practitioners" and "requires sacrifice," as Berry explains. An honest man indeed, he urges for a peaceableness that would perhaps require one's life. Ask the Amish, Berry says. Ask the martyrs and peaceful revolutionaries. Regardless, "as a practicable method," Berry claims, "it reduces helplessness in the face of conflict ... [For] the peaceable person may find several solutions, the violent person only one." Indeed, there seemed to be only one option ten years ago.


Wendell Berry is the 2012 Paideia Prize Winner from the Circe Institute

After keeping it a secret for a few weeks, we’re very excited to announce the winner of the 2012 Russell Kirk Paideia Prize, presented at our conference annually to an educator who has dedicated his or her life to the cultivation of wisdom and virtue. This year’s winner is:

Mr. Wendell Berry 


The 2012 Russell Kirk Paideia Prize-giving banquet will take place on Friday, July 20th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Lousiville, Kentucky. This formal occasion will celebrate the life and work of Mr. Berry and his dedication to the cultivation of mind, body, and soul. In his writings and teaching – at the University level as well as at Highlands Latin School in Kentucky – Mr. Berry’s work is richly influenced by the classical idea of harmony and his insistance that education done right is education done in community is a truth that all educators must take seriously.


Blog Watch: "Interview with Mark Shiffman: On Wendell Berry"

Mark Shiffman is a professor of humanities at Villanova.  When we met last summer I asked him about his specialties.  He replied: Plato, Aristotle, then listed other names in ancient philosophy.  Then he added "and of course Wendell Berry!"  Immediately I knew that I had made a friend (as readers of this blog will no doubt know..I am a huge admirer of Berry).  Shiffman has written a wonderful essay on Berry and Aristotle that was featured in Communio, so I thought he would be a guide and and introducer to Berry's work.