I've paused a bit on Mr. Berry's fiction and gone back to essays recently. One that I read today was particularly impactful, and I felt an urge to share a few paragraphs. Pardon any copyright issue here... If WB had his say, he wouldn't fault me for sharing the words without his permission, as he has said openly that not he nor anyone can own words or art. He would however, take issue with the use of the computer to share the text (he writes all his work on a 1956 Royal Standard typewriter - more than 40 books have passed through that man-powered machine).
Here he picks up this oft used expression of "governing least" and endorses it... but pushes a little further to discuss what is expected and required of individuals who wish to live in a little-governed society: responsibility. This general concept is thrown around a lot, and I hear it attached to Jefferson and other founding fathers. You have to think that they meant what Berry says here... they would indeed be disappointed to hear their concept of small government simplified and bastardized into a catch phrase used by people who basically think they should be free to do what they want regardless of consquences to the greater community.
Good piece here, on "an ethic that can be clarified in a column of figures."
Great writing here on the fact that in our age, "what were once private acts become public."
And this is what really got me... a discussion of an ideal community. Something that I've not had the opportunity to even lose or walk away from, because I've never been part of one. I'm not sure if anyone is part of one today (here he is referencing rural farming communities of days gone by).
This is what marks a good author I think - a voice for The People. Someone who says what you want to say, better than you could ever say it. When you complete a paragraph or an essay and you think Yes - this is it - he has hit it dead on center, or you find that you have teared up on a public transport because the text rings so true.
Anyway - back to the content below. I believe that people want to be part of communities. We don't want to be close in vicinity only... specialists going about our daily lives and tracking our numbers and driving our cars. Good God, who would voluntarily and purposefully take on a life like that? We're bound to a system though - bound by fear and a lack of confidence. We're on a big, industrial train going forward... and folks are afraid to jump off.
These excerpts are from an essay called The Loss of the Future. I've noted that the book that includes it - The Long Legged House - is available at Hamilton Bookseller for a bargain price of $4.95 (down from $14.00). You can also view the Google Book here.
Give it a read. Crushingly good. Mr. Berry is a superb author, and he is best at showing us how we ought to conduct ourselves.