Happy Birthday, Wendell Berry, born 5 August 1934.
- Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful. There is always more to tell than can be told.
- A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance. Unlike a person, a corporation does not age. It does not arrive, as most persons finally do, at a realisation of the shortness and smallness of human lives; it does not come to see the future as the lifetime of the children and grandchildren of anybody in particular.
- People use drugs, legal and illegal, because their lives are intolerably painful or dull. They hate their work and find no rest in their leisure. They are estranged from their families and their neighbours. It should tell us something that in healthy societies drug use is celebrative, convivial, and occasional, whereas among us it is lonely, shameful, and addictive. We need drugs, apparently, because we have lost each other.
- I don’t believe that grief passes away. It has its time and place forever. More time is added to it; it becomes a story within a story. But grief and griever alike endure.
- There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realisation, who returns again and again to say ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought’. This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
- Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.
- We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world would be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and what is good for it.
Wendell Berry is an American novelist, poet, and activist. His many books include Jayber Crow, Hannah Coulter, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, and What Are People For?. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
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