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Wendell Berry Has His Say

Posted: 11:00AM May 2nd, 2012 | Comments

Last week, Wendell Berry was awarded the highest honor bestowed for “distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.”

He’s a farmer.

People will add that he’s a poet, a novelist, an activist, etc. But all of these activities stem from Berry’s seven decades as someone who pays close, intimate attention to the Kentucky country which he (and two centuries of forbears) has been the steward.

If you don’t know Wendell Berry, you have a hole in your soul –- you just don’t know it yet.

There is little to say but let the man say it himself; the National Endowment for Humanities filmed his hour-long address and you can view it here (or read the transcript.)

The only thing to add as a postscript is that, as with many of the best and brightest, it would be easy to assume that Berry’s achievements have come easy or without the rocking of many boats. His quiet essays contain damning indictments of American energy policy, the national obsession with leisure and ease, and the deeply flawed view of agriculture as simply a product or a service that ought to be calibrated for maximum profit & yield.

Agriculture is nothing, Berry notes, without “culture” –- making implicit the deep, ages-old relationship between human-kind and the Earth, and the responsibilities that inhere.

Enjoy. He’s the best we’ve got.
 

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