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The Elements of Typographic Style

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Minding the Earth, Mending the Word: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis

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Entries in Wendell Berry (2)


Wise Words IV: Wendell Berry

And, finally, Wendell Berry. This from The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture:

"We are dealing, then, with an absurdity that is not a quirk or an accident, but is fundamental to our character as people. The split between what we think and what we do is profound. It is not just possible, it is altogether to be expected, that our society would produce conservationists who invest in strip-mining companies, just as it must inevitably produce asthmatic executives whose industries pollute the air and vice-presidents of pesticide corporations whose children are dying of cancer. And these people will tell you that this is the way the "real world" works. They will pride themselves on their "sacrifices" for "our standard of living". They will call themselves "practical men" and "hardheaded realists". And they will have their justificaitons in abundance from intellectuals, college professors, clergymen, politicians. The viciousness of a mentality that can look complacently upon disease as "part of the cost" would be obvious to any child. But this is the "realism" of millions of moden adults."

And, once again from Zen master Yunmen:

Medicine and sickness heal each other. The whole world is medicine. Where do you find yourself?

[NOTE: My last four post are shared for the inherent wisdom they convey. Not as harangues to generate anxiety, or resignation, or a sense of helplessness. Rather, more as pointers toward The Great Work that we so desperately need to start].   



Distant Neighbors

About halfway through the new book Distant Neighbors, which presents a fascinating collections of letters between two of my heros, Gary Snyder (see Gary Snyder at 83) and Wendell Berry. What a lively and thoughtful dialogue - and a lovely friendship. They exchanged nearly 250 letters from 1973 to 2013.  A snippet from Snyder's letter to Berry on June 3, 1977:

"The question I ask myself is, what next? My ignorance of the dynamics of economics troubles my sleep. I must keep working on that. Because, (as my study of China is showing more and more) the best intentions in the world will not stop the inertia of a heavy civilization that is rolling on its way. As poets, our politics mostly stand back from that flow of topical events; and the place we do our real work is in the unconscious, or myth-consciousness of the culture; a place where people decide (without knowing it) to change their values."

[NOTE: There is a powerful and subtle logic on display in these letters. I highly recommed this book].