I want to consider the psychology of Wendell Berry—not analyze Berry the author but rather probe the way that he sees the world. Berry has made his living as a thinker and writer but also as a farmer, and his unique connection to land and rootedness has much to offer those of us who feel unmoored.
Berry writes about the history of his Kentucky home in “A Native Hill.” He traces his family’s roots there to his maternal great-great-grandfather and his paternal great-grandfather, although the fog of time makes the details hazy. Berry grew to know the place intimately during his childhood, a connection forged more intensely due to the absence of mechanical means with which to farm the earth. When Berry left a comfortable teaching position at New York University to return, it was the first time that he chose the place, and his return made all the difference. Berry knows when his family began to live on the same acres which he occupies, but he is not naive about the fact that others lived there long before. According to Berry, “I am forever being crept up on and newly startled by the realization that my people established themselves here by killing or driving out the original possessors, by the awareness that people were once bought and sold here by my people, by the sense of the violence they have done to their own kind and to each other and to the earth, by the evidence of their persistent failure to serve either the place or their own community in it.”
Read all of "The Past is Our Definition" by Jonathan Foiles at Psychology Today.