Wendell Berry’s Passion Play

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J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he studies literature and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    About one paragraph after I thought to myself that I should go back and reread Levinas, you got to Levinas. As for what Berry is saying, I’ve been thinking about this idea of certain truths being “written on the heart” lately- it seems like you could have an affection that was prime but also subordinate to a higher moral claim without it being explicitly articulated. Saul Bellow’s beautiful last line in Mr. Sammler’s Planet comes to mind: “For that is the truth of it—that we all know, God, that we know, we know, we know.”Report

  2. Avatar tawster says:

    Your post is a tad hard to follow. At least for me, but I will try to respond as best I can but summarizing what I think Mr. Berry means by affection and natural.

    By affection he means physical, emotional, cultural *investment* in a place. Ideally over generations. This investment tends to develop a culture that values that place and tends to choose environmentally and culturally healthier actions than an outsider (or transient or transplant) would.

    As for mules, and natural. Berry laments our drift away from “The Natural”. I.e., *living things* or *living systems*. Mules are natural (they actually would occur in nature, just rarely). But that is beside the point. *Agriculture* is man-made if you think about it. But it is a man-made process of working with living things. It is an action of nurture, harmony… and as he often says, “husbandry”.

    Now, a more local, transient population is still going to be using technologies that Berry scorns, but… that community will be more involved. More connected. More caring. More invested. And maybe, more “natural”.Report

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