Blog Watch: WB to be discussed at ND

Among the many events related to a conference at Notre Dame in the coming week will be a panel devoted to Mr. Berry.

Notre Dame conference : Theopolitical.

Wendell Berry: A Man for All Seasons
* Civic Lessons from Port William, Kentucky: Wendell Berry’s Imaginative World of ‘Membership’ (Michael Stevens, Cornerstone University)
* The Place of Knowing: Wendell Berry and the Epistemology of Agrarianism (Mark Mitchell, Patrick Henry College)
* Healing the Hidden Wound: The Theology of the Body in Wendell Berry’s Remembering (Nathan Schlueter, Hillsdale College)
* Gratitude as a Virtue in Wendell Berry (Matt Bonzo, Cornerstone University) 

More information HERE

The WB Facebook thing

Barring a temporary shutdown to reorganize itself, it appears that the previously mentioned Wendell Berry page on Facebook has been deleted. I'm sincerely sorry to see this, since it cuts off more than 3,000 people from quick access to information from here, Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky. Needless to say, MWBoK is staying put, and I hope some of the old FB folks will find a way ("Subscribe to This Blog's Feed" anyone? ) to stay in touch.

I recommend that members of that apparently-defunct WB page sign on to The Wendell Berry Society (1601 members at present), which has always been admirably transparent in its creation and intentions.
Name: The Wendell Berry Society
Category: Organizations - Non-Profit Organizations
Description: For those who enjoy the work of the farmer-poet, Wendell Berry, and/or agree that we are steadily losing a part of what makes us human in our rush to embrace technology and uber-industrialism. For those that retain agrarian values in the face of mass development and rampant consumerism.
Privacy Type: Open: All content is public.

Just posted to the WB Facebook page

I just posted the following to the Wendell Berry Facebook page because after searching "Wendell Berry Facebook" I discovered that the page description contains some serious inaccuracies.

Dear moderator of this FB page, I write with a simple request that, if at all possible, you change the public search description of this FB page so that it does NOT read "Welcome to the official Facebook Page of Wendell Berry. Get exclusive content and interact with Wendell Berry right from Facebook." This is very misleading. Based on some fan comments left here, it seems that people sometimes come here expecting to have some "interaction" with Mr. Berry ... and that's just not the case. Thanks again for setting up this page which brings my efforts at "Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky" to a much wider group.

Oh ... one other issue is this "exclusive content." Unless I'm missing something, there's nothing exclusive about what appears here (aside from fan comments). It all comes from MWBoK, which is also not exclusive but just me trolling the web for interesting bits. Thanks.

And now I'm just noticing another point which I failed to make in my post. The page is labeled "official" and I wonder what that could ever mean. I hope this can be quickly resolved ... especially since it involves the work of a man whose personal integrity in matters of life and language is well known.

A place for the critical

This recent Comments exchange seems significant enough for me to post it generally for wider consideration. Several people have commented positively on this site's linking to recent blog posts that are critical of Mr. Berry's thought. I appreciate that, but am also attentive to those who think such negative takes on WB should have no place here. Smith's comment is very helpful to me.

Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky: Blog Watch: A problem with WB.
Is this the third rant from this "terrierman" that has been linked to from this page lately? Who is this blogger-nobody who thinks he can touch the modern-day Emerson that is Mr. Wendell Berry? Stop giving him attention.
Posted by: Smith | 07/31/2009 at 01:52 AM

Hello! A little looking around tells us that "terrierman" is one Patrick Burns, who has written a book called "American Working Terriers."

 One of my (of course self-defined) missions with this site, "Mr. Wendell Berry of Kentucky," has been to make easily accessible whatever WB-related material may appear on the web. And I get to make the call on what is substantial, relevant, and interesting among the various things that pop up. But I don't assume that readers here will always agree with my editorial choices.

My experience with WB material on the web has shown that the vastest amount of it is respectful of the man and his work; some of it is worshipful; much is redundant. But only a very small portion is critical to the degree that Mr. Burns' posts have been.

If Mr. Burns were being blatantly obscene or ignorant in his posting, I'd have no problem with ignoring him. But he is clearly trying to construct a rational explanation of some flaws he sees in Mr. Berry's thought (as he understands it). If we find flaws in Mr. Burns' thought, we should probably point them out ... as Brad East has done so well at ... point them out or ignore them as we choose.

Thanks very much for raising this issue. Maybe it's time for me to be more explicit about my intentions and editorial policies behind this site. As all-consumed as it is with "Everything WB" ... and maybe because of this ... it is not a cultic shrine. I don't believe Mr. Berry would want it to be.
Posted by: brtom | 07/31/2009 at 08:33 AM

Indexing WB's Non-fiction

Chicago architect Daniel Burnham famously said, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood." So I figured I'd take a shot at some such for the new year.

Strangely enough, one thing that stirs my blood is indexing books that I love. I've been involved with three such projects -- all works of fiction.

So I have come upon the notion (based on the hope that somewhere there's a need) to index the major non-fiction work of Wendell Berry. It's kind of shocking to notice that not even the great Unsettling of America has an index. Sometimes a reader wants to know where it was that WB wrote of that struggling furniture maker ... or where WB wrote about marriage, industrial capitalism, or threats to local communities.

So here's what I've done:

I've set up a wiki: The Wendell Berry Indexing Project as a collaborative workspace for a WB indexing project.

And I invite any of you who might be touched by an interest (and/or slight madness) to join me in this effort.

Again, take a look around at The Wendell Berry Indexing Project ... and follow the directions on the front page there, if it's something you'd care to tangle with.

Bright idea?

If you would be interested in participating in an indexing project for Mr. Berry's non-fiction works, please let me know.

I have some small experience with indexing fiction and have been pondering the possibilities for WB's essays. What say you (who have too much extra time on your hands)?

01 UPDATE 12.16: Maybe not such a bright idea. I just indexed the first essay in The Long-Legged House ("The Tyranny of Charity") and am underwhelmed by the result. But it needed doing, just to get the lay of the land.

Big Issue: The job would be easy if I only listed proper names (Harry Caudill, T.V.A., etc), but what about controlling ideas, prominent themes, resonant detail ... ? Always remembering that

  • an index is not a concordance
  • an index must be USEFUL to a reader
  • index-writing requires an active brain

02 UPDATE 12.16: I've composed an index of key terms under the sway of a WB Idea Index. So this could provide some structure into which to place the names (not page #s?) of essays that are concerned with a given term ... hmmm, could be tricky. Don't mind me ... just talking to myself here.

Site Update

Today I have worked on Port William: The People, adding characters from Hannah Coulter, Andy Catlett, and even Whitefoot.

That page still lacks a long-overdue completion of the stories from That Distant Land, reason being: characters are already listed under their originally published short story collections, so the duplication hasn't been given a high priority ... and may not yet, for a while.