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from "Oral History, Wendell Berry, and Memory as Membership (II)"

I appreciate A World Lost because in it Wendell Berry (perhaps unintentionally) offers insights for the work being done by those of us engaged in Oral History.  For a field that relies heavily on memory, always questioning its reliability or its value, there are lessons to be learned in this intricate narrative that weaves the fragmented memories of Port William together.  Wendell Berry, through his narrator Andy, examines clearly the limits of coming to the complete truth about the life and death of Uncle Andrew through memory, and the act of remembering.  Yet these limits are not meant to crush one’s understanding of the past, but to provide a framework for freely imagining the life, the “membership” as Berry calls it, that lives on in memory.


See Part I of Mr. Sikkema's work HERE.

Wendell Berry in conversation at National Cathedral, April 22

Matthew Sleeth will deliver the sermon at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. at 8:45 and 11:15 a.m. April 22. At 10:15 a.m., he will be among those launching the new Seminary Stewardship Alliance. He will then host a conversation with Kentucky poet and farmer Wendell Berry on why the church should take a leading role in environmental conservation. The events will be streamed on the Blessed Earth site and at the National Cathedral site,


For more information see the National Cathedral site HERE.

Blog Watch: Students reflect on Wendell Berry's "Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer"

I can understand that Berry and McCarthy have writing habits that don’t involve using the computer. Everyone can and should use what works best for them. McCarthy uses the typewriter because that is what he used for most of his career and it’s what he is accustomed to. Berry continues to use the typewriter because of his moral and conservationist inclinations, and also because he enjoys the bond he and his wife share in a more manual writing process. When I am on in years and well into my career, I wonder what technologies I will forego or resist like these authors.

The western world has had a culture of improvement since the rise of civilization- today is no different. Technologies, like the typewriter and computer, were developed in the hopes that they would improve society, however improvement comes with consequences. Like Berry, each of us has to choose what technology to use based on our own ideas and values. McCarthy was wildly successful using the typewriter, and someone can be equally successful using a computer. To go without a computer would be difficult, especially for a person in today’s workforce who is expected to use one, but not impossible. What each of us does in life is always a balance between what is best for ourselves and what is best for other people and things. The use of such a powerful, and power-hungry, machine will probably be debated for the rest of our lives.


Students (apparently at University of Minnesota) respond to Mr. Berry's "Why I am Not Going To Buy a Computer" and Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Typewriters".

Blog Watch: "Wendell Berry: A New Language of Place"

Berry believes that this exodus from the countryside has been ideologically backed by “diseased thinking” (The Art of the Commonplace) which has encouraged people to abscond from their responsibilities to a place.  In his writings, Berry elucidates four elements of the diseased mind which alienate people from each other, themselves, and the earth: 1) a pernicious dualism between body and mind, where the mind is to be privileged over the body and subsequently the land; 2) an unwavering faith that technological progress will increase human happiness by freeing humans from the drudgery of physical work; 3) reductionist metaphors of humanity and nature as complex machinery; and 4) a hubristic notion that given enough time humanity can (and will) know everything.  Berry’s writing continually envisions the negative ramifications each idea has had for how we treat ourselves, each other, and our place.


Blog Watch: Wendell Berry, Sanity, and Ministry

Wendell Berry reminds me that there is a life outside of strictly defined political lines. He maintains a commitment to a different set of criteria than what I am fed day in and day out through news outlets and ad campaigns. Wendell Berry preaches a message that is so different that he can’t be claimed by the forces of the political machine. He speaks too much truth to be condemned and yet remains far to dangerous to be claimed by either side. Wendell Berry offers a narrative that isn’t framed by issues of conservative vs liberal. He offers a narrative framed by community and location. In a world that seeks to solve the problems of society in broad strokes Wendell Berry insists on making small jots and tittles that he makes on each of his handwritten manuscripts that have managed to infect my life, my ministry, my convictions, and even my capacity to hope again.


"Wendell Berry to receive Tulsa library's Helmerich award"


He's either a leftist or a right-wing extremist, a liberal revolutionary or a retrograde conservative.

"I've been called a communist and a fascist," admits Wendell Berry. "But I'm glad to avoid all of the pigeonholes."

A farmer, a poet, an essayist and an activist - not to mention a thoroughly nice guy - he simply transcends the political spectrum, challenging conventional wisdom even as he appeals to age-old customs.

The author of more than 50 published works, Berry will receive this year's Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award from the Tulsa Library Trust.


"To receive the Distinguished Author Award, Berry will come to Tulsa for a black-tie dinner Dec. 7, followed by a free public appearance at 10:30 a.m., Dec. 8, at the Central Library."


Of Interest: "Berea College-Local Foods Leader"

First you should understand that Berea is not your common college.  They are one of only seven colleges that are federally recognized as Work Colleges in the United States.  At a work college, students offset the cost of tuition by working on campus.  Student workers might serve food in the dining hall, maintain campus grounds, haul compost or participate in other forms of labor that varies from college to college but students gain valuable life lessons while reducing college debt.  Students take note!


Wendell Berry noted in "Overhauling the Farm Bill: Planting for the Future With Perennials"

A coalition of organizations and sustainable farming advocates, led by Land Institute founder Wes Jackson and author Wendell Berry, and farmer-philosopher Fred Kirschenmann, has called for perennialization to become a focus of Farm Bill spending over the next 50 years. U.S. Department of Agriculture funding from the Farm Bill could jump-start this urgently needed transition. And with its countrywide reach and mission to safeguard the food system, the USDA is poised to take the lead, as it previously did with the industrialization of farming. It already has a network of research and extension services, sizable budget, and interactions with tens of thousands of farmers and landowners.


Wendell Berry interviewed in Dissent, Spring 2012


Each generational wave of environmental concern seems to lap at Wendell Berry's doorstep. He gave up teaching and writing in New York in the sixties to return to Kentucky, establishing a small farm at Lanes Landing near Port Royal, and dedicating himself to writing about the roots of the life he leads there. Readers have sought his inspiration to overcome the incessant churning of environmental destruction and industrial food production. Berry embodies a certain sort of alternative. When I arrived at Lanes Landing, I knew that many seekers had come before me to put a face to the writing, and to see this life for themselves.


Project MUSE reports that this interview with Wendell Berry by Sarah Leonard is published in Dissent. I don't have access to either Dissent or Project MUSE.

Source: Dissent
Volume 59, Number 2, Spring 2012
pp. 42-47 | 10.1353/dss.2012.0049

A review of "The Prince's Speech"

Prince Charles believes our way of producing food -- a process reliant on fossil fuels, pesticides, and fertilizers -- destroys the very resources upon which our food depends, such as soil and water. And we can’t keep it up much longer.

"Yield increases for staple food crops are declining," he told the rapt audience. "They have dropped from 3 percent in the 1960s to 1 percent today -- and that is really worrying because for the first time, the rate is less than the rate of population growth. And all this, of course, has to be set against the ravages of climate change. Already yields are suffering in Africa and India, where crops are failing to cope with ever-increasing temperatures and fluctuating rainfall."