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Our Only World: Ten Essays af Wendell Berry
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Our Only World: Ten Essays (udgave 2015)

af Wendell Berry (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1513136,809 (4.33)6
"Stern but compassionate, author Wendell Berry raises broader issues that environmentalists rarely focus on . . . In one sense Berry is the voice of a rural agrarian tradition that stretches from rural Kentucky back to the origins of human civilization. But his insights are universal becauseOur Only World is filled with beautiful, compassionate writing and careful, profound thinking." --Associated Press The planet's environmental problems respect no national boundaries. From soil erosion and population displacement to climate change and failed energy policies, American governing classes are paid by corporations to pretend that debate is the only democratic necessity and that solutions are capable of withstanding endless delay. Late Capitalism goes about its business of finishing off the planet. And we citizens are left with a shell of what was once proudly described as The American Dream. In this collection of eleven essays, Berry confronts head-on the necessity of clear thinking and direct action. Never one to ignore the present challenge, he understands that only clearly stated questions support the understanding their answers require. For more than fifty years we've had no better spokesman and no more eloquent advocate for the planet, for our families, and for the future of our children and ourselves.… (mere)
Medlem:janimar
Titel:Our Only World: Ten Essays
Forfattere:Wendell Berry (Forfatter)
Info:Counterpoint (2015), Edition: Reprint, 196 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
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Nøgleord:Ingen

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Our Only World: Ten Essays af Wendell Berry

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Overall this book was too much "old man yells at cloud" for me.

He writes beautifully and with conviction; he offers no proof. His arguments are based on personal observation and anecdotes, which make for compelling essays but do not form the basis of policy reform. An example from near the end of the book is when he writes of the disappearance of the black willows from a nearby river. The disappearance of the willows I take on evidence of his observation; but from there he leaps to concluding that some industrial toxin is behind it. That's possible; it's possible the true cause lies elsewhere. It could be climate change: change to the temperatures of the river waters, say, or the pattern of rainfall nearby.

However he appears to feel considerable contempt about climate concerns, and he writes with disparagement about human rights and those who advocate for them as well--he won't even include the word rights without quotation marks around it. This is pretty rich, coming from a straight white dude with a university education, whose own rights have never been in question. I would encourage him, if rights are so extraneous and decadent, to give up his own for the remainder of his time on this planet and show us what he can do without the privileges they confer.

His blindness on this issue causes problems in the book (besides his constant insult to anyone who doesn't share his privileged demographics and wants to enjoy the same rights he has). The most egregious and obvious to me was his fetishization of the Amish as a pinnacle of ecological achievement for Americans to emulate. FFS. He could have written of the pre-European indigenous cultures, since so many of them were egalitarian, but instead he chose the Amish--a German sect that has about as much business here as a Norwegian maple. A) it's pretty odd to argue that they demonstrate ecological balance in the Americas, since their success here was as dependent on the destruction of the old landscapes and ecologies (and peoples!) as mainstream north americans is/was. B) Also extremely odd to adulate a culture in which women have no standing or rights ("rights," as he'd derisively put it), and in which gay and transgender people aren't even considered to *exist.* It's obvious that this is a triviality to him, but it isn't a triviality to most women, or LGBTQ, and if he wonders why he's more ignored than he wants to be, he might consider that the groups whose "rights" he disparages don't consider our humanity to be elective.

By far the worst was the essay included in this collection for reasons I can't ever fathom about abortion and gay marriage. Who was behind this decision? What do I care about the uninformed musings of an old straight white dude about "rights" that have had no bearing on his life? What in heaven gave him the idea that he should speculate on the thoughts or feelings of women who've had abortions? If he'd thought to conduct even a half-hour's research on the subject, he would have learned that his speculations are wrong--what kind of arrogance is it to indulge in thought experiments conducted against all available evidence? It's extremely likely that as many women of his acquaintance have had abortions as the general American public, about 40%; it's extremely clear that none of the women who've had abortions of his acquaintance would or have talked to *him* about it, and I don't blame them. If he were a more receptive or empathetic audience to women, he might have had conversations on the subject that would have spared him embarrassing himself here, not that he (or his more devoted fans) appear to realize that he's done so.

There are better, more considered, and more fact-based writers on these subjects--including environmental ones-- than Wendell Berry, and I would recommend any one of them over him. He gets two stars because the writing is lovely, but that's it. ( )
  andrea_mcd | Mar 10, 2020 |
Summary: Ten essays on various subjects related to our care for our world and its people emphasizing the local and the sustainable.

In reading this collection of essays by Wendell Berry, some transcriptions of addresses, written between 2010 and 2014, I felt like I had read much of this material before. In some sense, I have. Berry continues to ring the changes of themes that recur in his works: local membership, sustainable land practices, the character of good work, our violent relationship with our world.

There was the sense of someone who has been saying these things for a long time, and perhaps coming toward the end of his work. As I write this, Berry has recently celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday. Both his earlier essay collections and earlier novels are longer. For all that, it seems to me that we have both a summing up and a carrying forward into our current context of the things Wendell Berry has been saying to us for fifty years.

The essays range widely covering everything from our tendency to dissect life into parts rather than see wholes (his "Paragraphs from a Notebook"), our violent treatment both of the creation and our fellow human beings ("The Commerce of Violence" and "On Receiving One of the Dayton Literary Peace Prizes"), and sustainable practices centered around right-sized land management and appropriate technology ("A Forest Conversation," "Local Economies to Save the Land and the People," "Less Energy, More Life," "Our Deserted Country," and "For the 50-Year Farm Bill"). Two address wider concerns in our society ("Caught in the Middle" in which Berry sets forth his views on abortion and gay marriage and "On Being Asked for a 'Narrative for the Future").

There were several that stood out for me. One was "A Forest Conversation." Much of this essay describes the practices of forest owner Troy Firth, who owns a maple sugar operation and also logs his forest with sustainable practices in his choices of trees to cut, and in how he removes them to minimize damage to the forest floor (horses!). "Our Deserted Country" chronicles the movement of people from country to city and the use of industrial technology as a substitute for an appropriate ratio of "eyes to acres" that human-scaled land care involved. He ranges widely in this essay, discussing impacts on the land, the disappearance of a country culture of fishing, hunting, and foraging, and the decline of local streams, including the loss of his favorite willows that no one can explain or had noticed.

In "Caught in the Middle," Berry voices what many of us feel, that neither of the major political parties represent his views. He ventures into the contentious space of abortion and gay marriage. He opposes abortion as the taking of life, and yet concedes there are circumstances he would help someone obtain an abortion. He acknowledges the conflict in these statements but also contends there should be no laws for or against abortion. He argues this is a personal matter that should not be subject to law, and argues similarly with regard to gay marriage. He questions whether "rights" are bestowed by government, including the "right" to marry. He would go further in saying that neither does the church, but that a "marriage" is made by two individuals who vow and live those vows until death. I suspect this is one of those essays that has subjected him to fire from all sides, the danger of being "caught in the middle." But Wendell Berry has never shrunk from controversy!

His concluding essay speaks a good word to all our prognostications about the future. He writes:

"In this essay and elsewhere, I have advocated for the 50-Year Farm Bill, another big solution I am doing my best to promote, but not because it will be good in or for the future. I am for it because it is good now, according to present understanding of present needs. I know that it is good now because its principles are now satisfactorily practiced by many (though not nearly enough) farmers. Only the present good is good. It is the presence of good--good work, good thoughts, good acts, good places--by which we know that the present does not have to be a nightmare of the future."

It may well be that this is the theme that under-girds all these essays. His urging that we turn away from our energy-intensive economy is not first for the environment, but because it is not a good way to live. His arguments limiting the power of big government and reliance on national politics is centered in the goodness of the local community, and the ability of local people to best care for their land. Good work, rather than jobs, is what people were made for, but is also good for the world.

Agree with Berry or not (and probably no one will on all he writes), his contrarian voice comes from a different place from much of our public discourse. It comes from a place that is close to land from a life of tending a farm and the surrounding land, and to local people, a "membership." He offers us the chance to examine the way of living and the way of governing a society that we have assumed. In the end, his concern is not to change the world, or Washington, but to invite each of us to consider what it means to pursue the good in the place we are. Perhaps at the end of the day, that is the best we can do in "our only world." ( )
  BobonBooks | Sep 29, 2019 |
A new collection of essays by America's greatest living philosopher. ( )
  Sullywriter | May 22, 2015 |
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I dedicate this book to the following good companions who honored our state's capitol by their presence and me by their kindness:
Lisa Abbott, Chad Berry, Teri Blanton, Doug Doerrfeld, Brandon Goodwin, Rick Handshoe, John Hennen, Silas House, Jason Howard, Beverly May, Mickey McCoy, Martin Mudd, Matt Murray, Kevin Pentz, Herb E. Smith, Lora Smith, Stanley Sturgill, Tanya Turner, Patty Wallace
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"Stern but compassionate, author Wendell Berry raises broader issues that environmentalists rarely focus on . . . In one sense Berry is the voice of a rural agrarian tradition that stretches from rural Kentucky back to the origins of human civilization. But his insights are universal becauseOur Only World is filled with beautiful, compassionate writing and careful, profound thinking." --Associated Press The planet's environmental problems respect no national boundaries. From soil erosion and population displacement to climate change and failed energy policies, American governing classes are paid by corporations to pretend that debate is the only democratic necessity and that solutions are capable of withstanding endless delay. Late Capitalism goes about its business of finishing off the planet. And we citizens are left with a shell of what was once proudly described as The American Dream. In this collection of eleven essays, Berry confronts head-on the necessity of clear thinking and direct action. Never one to ignore the present challenge, he understands that only clearly stated questions support the understanding their answers require. For more than fifty years we've had no better spokesman and no more eloquent advocate for the planet, for our families, and for the future of our children and ourselves.

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