21 April 2010

Wendell Berry, Gene Lodgson and Wes Jackson

I have been getting into listening to more and more podcasts, and I think Citybeat has the best local podcast. This week they have excerpts from the Xavier Food and Agriculture Lecture Series last Sunday, which featured a discussion between Wendell Berry, Gene Lodgson and Wes Jackson. Below is a quote I transcribed:

Well I wanted to go back to this issue of limiting growth. We talk about limiting growth as if somebody is going to figure out how to limit it, as if somebody external to the problem would come in and measure it and say "alright, this far and no farther". There are lots of reasons to worry about that as you know.

So I think if we are going to talk about living as creatures rather than machines, you know all the voices all around are telling you that you are a machine, ... if we're going to try to live as creatures we ought to try to think our way back into our creaturely life and talk about what pleases us.

And one of the first things you realize if you begin to think of the human creature as a person who seeks to be pleased, is that most people are deeply displeased... by their work, by their places and so on...

"Thank God it's Friday" is virtually a national motto. But, people that are doing the thing they are called to do the work that they are best fitted to do in this world, and attracted to aren't saying "thank God it's Friday". They're having trouble distinguishing between their work and their recreation. Work itself is pleasure giving.

One thing the three of us have in common is that we live in really attractive places. And that's not at all to say that these places in which we live are extravagant in any way. We don't live in palaces. We live in places that in one way or another have relation to the surrounding landscape. And in the relationship between the dwelling place and the landscape and the other creatures with whom the dwelling place is shared there is a kind of comeliness that is deeply pleasing and deeply satisfying.

Now I'll just talk a little now from experience. I'm speaking as an experienced odd person.

If you live in a pleasing place, a place that you really like to be in, you're not going to need television, or violent distractions. Your not going to spend your time speeding somewhere. You're have to want to spend your leisurely time at home, (which would be a great saving in fossil fuels and lead and these other things that we're against). If you like looking at the country you are in, your not going to need to look at television. My own phobia or motto is to stay away from screens. I avoid screens of all kinds.... screens of distraction ...that disguise the place that you are. Books don't do that. -Wendell Berry


CityKin said...

By the way, when the banter led to slowing growth or overpopulation, I had a hard time supporting that type of thought.

I think Wendell Berry also has a problem with this kind of thinking, because I know he believes that rural America is underpopulated, much like some of our urban centers are underpopulated, IMO.

catherine said...

I am so sad we missed this. It's like the Holy Trinity came to town and we chose not to go! Priorities....