Friday, October 31, 2008

Is the world coming around to Wendell Berry?

Harold Goddard once said: "The world is forever catching up to Shakespeare, only to fall behind him again." I don't think the modern world has yet caught up with the 73 year-old Wendell Berry, but Rod Dreher, writing in the Dallas Morning News, says he thinks it might be about to.

I told my wife the other day that Wendell Berry is the only author whose books I read for their own sake, not for anything I might glean from them to "use". They are not, in that sense, "practical," and yet, saying that, I realize they have changed my life and the way I think--and ultimately the way I do things--more than any other.

I find it increasingly remarkable how many of my conservative friends, some of whom are what my son calls "Rush babies," have been discovering Wendell Berry. What happens in their thinking about life and culture--I should perhaps rather call it an attitude--I can only describe (having gone through it myself) as akin to a Copernican revolution.

One friend told me, "I have spent the better part of my adult life studying C. S. Lewis. I'm spending the rest of it studying Wendell Berry."

Here is Dreher, writing about how Berry answers the very problems of which today's economic crisis has made us painfully aware:
Could any man be less relevant to the politics and culture of our time than an old Kentucky poet-farmer who is so out of step with the times that he refuses to use a computer and still tills his earth using draft horses? And yet, given the converging crises of this extraordinary moment in American history, it just might be that in the winter of a long and honorable career, Wendell Berry's moment has arrived.
Check out the rest of this wonderful article here.


Anonymous said...

Our county has a wonderful agrarian tradition that has existed for two centuries. It was the source of wealth for the county and gave definition to what it meant to live here.

With the demise of tobacco production and the easy money coming from the housing developments of the last decade, it fell out of fashion.

These housing developments in a rural county with no local jobs were not sustainable and perhaps it is time now to look to our roots for a living and more satisfying life.

Thank you MC for the work you do in this blog.

Anonymous said...

logan: wonderful agrarian tradition ... gave definition to what it meant to live here.

With the demise of tobacco production


I guess there will never again be something like producing addictive carcinogens to give a man a sense of accomplishment and self worth.


Martin Cothran said...

I suppose Jah prefers that people live less meaningful, more disconnected, alienated lives that are longer thanks to the fact that they don't smoke?

Anonymous said...

The man and his books are national treasures. So far my reading has focused on his essays, but I have started in his novels as well. I appreciate what your colleague said. I want to go back and reread his books while taking better notes. I think of his work frequently as I think about education, and find it useful to both analyze the problems and to formulate solutions. It is long past time the world came around to his work.

Robert Fasso