Friday, March 06, 2009

Wendell Berry: A quick recap

Last night my father and I went to hear Wendell Berry read. He read part of a new essay and short story.
I don't have time to say everything I want to say about it, but he made some good points about how our economy has been based on wants, and how we need to return to a need-based economy. He included art in needs, for what that's worth.
But one thing that hit home with me was the idea that many people think they "need" technology when really they only want it.
MB and I talk quite often about how long we can hold out on the cell phone front, and whether or not we are going to convert our TV to digital. On both fronts I want to say no. I don't think more TV is what we need in our lives; no one calls us on the land line we have. Why pay more for what we don't want?
Berry also mentioned that most children don't know the place they live: they don't know the plants or the animals or the birds. So true. Son knows lots of Pokemon, but he doesn't know the names of birds. This summer I will work to change that. And myself too. I don't know the native plants or animals or birds.
I agree with Berry that much technology works to alienate us from our local communities and the places we live, even the people we live with. I think virtual communities have replaced and are replacing real communities. And I think that's a bad thing.
He spoke in favor of local farmers, farmers' markets, etc. It made me really yearn for summer, when we can get the food we need from people who live near by, rather than from a grocery chain. (I'm ignoring, for the moment, the fact that I want coffee and chocolate too, neither of which are native.)
I took his beliefs to be both a warning and a challenge: what am I bringing my Son up to be? A doer and a thinker? Or a consumer?


Renaissance Girl said...

I'm sorry I missed it. I'd have liked to see WB.

Nik said...

I love Wendell Berry. Or at least the idea of him. I always buy his books and I always agree with him but I haven't read as much as I should have.
Oooh. If there's time when I'm in Salt Lake, maybe we could go out to the bird refuge...

Lisa B. said...

I realize I have put off responding to this post because I feel like the bad person in this story--consumer, television watcher, cell phone user. So be it. I also love to know the native plants and birds, and it has been a pleasure living in Utah long enough to know more about them, and to learn from the historian, who is a big bird man. Also, don't wait till summer! get some vegetables from Chad! Although I think things may be a little thin for awhile, but not in terms of potatoes, eggs, herbs, etc., from his dad.

ErinAlice said...

My daughter has learned so much about the AZ landscape in school-much of which I don't know so I want to get out and enjoy it with her. Also there is a farmer's market today right across the street.I am going to go there now. I think you can be a thinker and a doer and still be a consumer (I mean is it possible to NOT be one) but you can consume thoughtfully, I think. I wished I could have heard him. Thanks for the recap. I am going to go out and look at some cactus and a few roadrunners (all native to AZ-I think).