Monday, January 23, 2012

God Dammit, Wendell!

Wendell Berry is messing my head up. His two essays, 'The Specialization Of Poetry' and 'Standing By Words', really shocked me.

Such a thinker! Such a plain spoken yet sophisticated mind! So able to address major contemporary issues of language, culture, and community in simple terms. No odd words like 'd-mode' or logocentrism. All this plain spoken stuff.

A raging defense of mindfulness! But one that leaves so much room for analytical study.

So much faith in language this man has!

The best claim he makes: That only by embracing "particular love for particular things" can we reclaim language as a precise medium, only then can we 'stand by our words'. Because love "is not abstract, it does not lead to trends or percentages or general behavior. It leads, on the contrary, to the perception that there is no such thing as general behavior. There is no abstract action. Love proposes the work of settled households and communities, whose innovations come about in response to immediate needs and immediate conditions, as opposed to the work of governments and corporations, whose innovations are produced out of the implicitly limitless desire for future power or profit" (Standing By Words, 61). I feel enlivened by this man's words.

I, too, wish to stand by my words. To be sincere, to do away with generalizing language about people. To embrace the novelty and particularity of each moment. I wish to be mindful. I wish to embody this poetic attitude. I wish to regard language as a tricky but indispensable tool.

So very much is going on in these essays. Such connections to Collingwood, Foucault, John Gray, Guy Claxton, all kinds of stuff.

Really excited about Wendell Berry. He seems to be a very strong essayist and thinker.

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