Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse – The Atlantic – Wendell Berry
I. Properly speaking, global thinking is not possible.
Unless one is willing to be destructive on a very large scale, one cannot do something except locally, in a small place.
Consequences for the internet and blockchain technology?
III. …The right local questions and answers will be the right global ones.
The Amish question “What will this do to our community?” tends toward the right answer for the world.
XXI. [The question then becomes]…how do we begin to remake, or to make, local culture that will preserve our part of the world while we use it?
…The locality, by becoming partly sustainable, would produce the thought it would need to become more sustainable.
This last thought (the last line of the essay actually) interests me. The claim that place—the milieu of material things one lives among—can produce certain thoughts, and subsequently cultivating material environment may be the first step to having certain thoughts. I think Berry would also make the stronger claim that there are parts of a person’s non-material aspect which are *only* available after living in certain external(!) material situatedness. It’s a claim about Incarnation.
“If we wish to understand.. it must not be as tourists or inquirers, it must be with the loyalty of children and the great patience of poets” Chesterton
VIII. …Rome destroyed the balance with slave labor; we have destroyed it with “cheap” fossil fuel
Fossil Fuels have always been produced at the expense of local ecosystems and of local human communities.
Both this and the previous point (about the developmental necessity of parochialism for the human spirit) are connected to “the power of science and technology to provide.. the myths we live by”. The material things we live among “press with great force upon our ideas”; incarnation works both ways.
Being embodied means physical things can (and do) work back up the chain in ways our executive functioning often seems disconcertingly blind to..That all applies specifically here as thinking about A Grand Unified Theory of Modernity™ Berry seems to be giving (for me) unexpected weight to the pure physical artefacts that are coal, oil and gas themselves. How much is the simple existence of fossil fuels responsible for?
The existence of (seemingly) unlimited material energy mainlined into a society for several centuries; bathing its streets, heating its homes, fuelling its war machines, touching the pages of every book, firing the horizon of every artist, stoking the dreams of every child.