Friday, October 14, 2011

In which Wendell Berry says it better than me

My cell phone stopped working about six months ago. Since then I've been using my cell from college, which suffers from a broken speaker, explaining why the last time I called was around Easter.  Finally, our contract is up, so I've been researching phone plans and mobile devices and pay-as-you-go options and wondering why, when you ask for "basic" phones, the salespeople take you to the cells-for-seniors section.  On Sunday, Abe and I went to AT&T, Verizon, Best Buy, Sprint and WalMart (shudder). In four hours, we made as much progress toward peace in the Middle East as we did toward getting phones.

When did cell phones - and everything - get so complicated? I don't need for the internet to fit in my pocket, and I sure don't want the monthly bill for it. I don't need another touch-screen piece of junk that will break after a year. I just want it to be simple.

Oh yeah, and I want an iphone.

I find myself torn between these two lives - the one where I crave convenience and compliments on my shoes, and the one where I delibrately choose simplicity.  There's a part of me that wants to redo the kitchen, add on a front porch, upgrade our appliances. And another part of me can't wait to move out of our conventional house and into something tiny and sustainable.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry


  1. my unanswerable question of today is "how can someone age 58 in America in the information age not know how to read?" wow. (and did you know that reading and writing is listed in the job description for a grocery bagger? i guess i could mistake the eggs for a gallon of milk...)

  2. I know what you mean, Sweetie. Stuff can really complicate life (e.g. look at how disgruntled I am over my Internet situation.) But on the other hand...Anyway, loved your post.


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