Friday, May 05, 2006

[pardon the lack of formatting - didn't come through in paste]

I do cringe at the irony of posting this with a machine... digitally. However, it's good enough that I can look past that, in order to share the text.

Some Further Words
by Wendell Berry.


Let me be plain with you, dear reader.I am an old-fashioned man. I likethe world of nature despite its mortaldangers. I like the domestic worldof humans, so long as it pays its debtsto the natural world, and keeps its bounds.I like the promise of Heaven. My purposeis a language that can repay just thanksand honor for those gifts, a tongueset free from fashionable lies.
Neither this world nor any of its placesis an "environment." And a housefor sale is not a "home." Economicsis not "science," nor "information" knowledge.A knave with a degree is a knave. A foolin a public office is not a "leader."A rich thief is a thief. And the ghostof Arthur Moore, who taught me Chaucer,returns in the night to say again:"Let me tell you something, boy.An intellectual whore is a whore."
The world is babbled to pieces afterthe divorce of things from their names.Ceaseless preparation for waris not peace. Health is not procuredby sale of medication, or purityby the addition of poison. Scienceat the bidding of the corporationsis knowledge reduced to merchandise;it is a whoredom of the mind,and so is the art that calls this "progress."So is the cowardice that calls it "inevitable."

I think the issues of "identity" mostlyare poppycock. We are what we have done,which includes our promises, includesour hopes, but promises first. I knowa "fetus" is a human child.I loved my children from the timethey were conceived, having lovedtheir mother, who loved themfrom the time they were conceivedand before. Who are we to saythe world did not begin in love?

I would like to die in love as I was born,and as myself of life impoverished gointo the love all flesh beginsand ends in. I don't like machines,which are neither mortal nor immortal,though I am constrained to use them.(Thus the age perfects its clench.)Some day they will be gone, and thatwill be a glad and a holy day.I mean the dire machines that runby burning the world's body andits breath. When I see an airplanefuming through the once-pure skyor a vehicle of the outer spacewith its little inner spaceimitating a star at night, I say,"Get out of there!" as I would speakto a fox or a thief in the henhouse.When I hear the stock market has fallen,I say, "Long live gravity! Long livestupidity, error, and greed in the palacesof fantasy capitalism!" I thinkan economy should be based on thrift,on taking care of things, not on theft,usury, seduction, waste, and ruin.

My purpose is a language that can make us whole,though mortal, ignorant, and small.The world is whole beyond human knowing.The body's life is its own, untouchedby the little clockwork of explanation.I approve of death, when it comes in timeto the old. I don't want to fiveon mortal terms forever, or survivean hour as a cooling stew of piecesof other people. I don't believe that lifeor knowledge can be given by machines.The machine economy has set afirethe household of the human soul,and all the creatures are burning within it
"Intellectual property" namesthe deed by which the mind is boughtand sold, the world enslaved. Wewho do not own ourselves, being free,own by theft what belongs to God,to the living world, and equallyto us all. Or how can we own a partof what we only can possessentirely? Life is a gift we haveonly by giving it back again.Let us agree: "the laborer is worthyof his hire," but he cannot own what he knows,which must be freely told, or labordies with the laborer. The farmeris worthy of the harvest madein time, but he must leave the lightby which he planted, grew, and reaped,the seed immortal in mortality,freely to the time to come. The landtoo he keeps by giving it up,as the thinker receives and gives a thought,as the singer sings in the common air.

I don't believe that "scientific genius"in its naive assertions of poweris equal either to nature orto human culture. Its thoughtless invasionsof the nuclei of atoms and cellsand this world's every habitationhave not brought us to the lightbut sent us wandering farther throughthe dark. Nor do I believe.artistic genius" is the possessionof any artist. No one has madethe art by which one makes the worksof art. Each one who speaks speaksas a convocation. We live as councilsof ghosts. It is not "human genius"that makes us human, but an old love,an old intelligence of the heartwe gather to us from the world,from the creatures, from the angelsof inspiration, from the dead--an intelligence merely nonexistentto those who do not have it, but --to those who have it more dear than life.

And just as tenderly to be knownare the affections that make a woman and a mantheir household and their homeland one.These too, though known, cannot be toldto those who do not know them, and fewerof us learn them, year by year.These affections are leaving the worldlike the colors of extinct birds,like the songs of a dead language.
Think of the genius of the animals,every one truly what it is:gnat, fox, minnow, swallow, each madeof light and luminous within itself.They know (better than we do) howto live in the places where they live.And so I would like to be a truehuman being, dear reader-a choicenot altogether possible now.But this is what I'm for, the sideI'm on. And this is what you shouldexpect of me, as I expect it ofmyself, though for realization wemay wait a thousand or a million years.

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