Start a tradition with me. Every week I’d like to recommend a book (pulp) and a record (platter) with some kind of internal connection. This week, I’m reading Wendell Berry’s collection of essays Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. It was so thoughtful, so articulate, and so funny in its defense of a holistic view of the person, well, I wrote my first ever Amazon review of it. My favorite 3 quotes:
1. The sign of exceptionally smart people is that they speak a language that is intelligible only to other people in their “field” or only to themselves. This is very impressive and is known as “professionalism.”
2. No one can know the whole globe. We can connect ourselves to the globe as a whole only by means of a global economy that, without knowing the earth, plunders it for us. The global economy (like the national economy before it) operates on the superstition that the deficiencies or needs or wishes of one place may safely be met by the ruination of another place. To build houses here, we clear-cut the forests there. To have air-conditioning here, we strip-mine the mountains there. To drive our cars here, we sink our oil wells there. It is an absentee economy.
3. The conventional public opposition of ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ is, here as elsewhere, perfectly useless. The ‘conservatives’ promote the family as a sort of public icon, but they will not promote the economic integrity of the household or the community, which are the mainstays of family life. Under the sponsorship of ‘conservative’ presidencies, the economy of the modern household, which once required the father to work away from home – a development that was bad enough – now requires the mother to work away from home, as well. And this development has the wholehearted endorsement of ‘liberals,’ who see the mother thus forced to spend her days away from her home and children as ‘liberated’ – though nobody has yet seen the fathers thus forced away as ‘liberated.’ Some feminists are thus in the curious position of opposing the mistreatment of women and yet advocating their participation in an economy in which everything is mistreated.
In connection with Berry’s friendly, neighborhood reminder to live as humanly as possible, I’m listening to the album Destroy All Astromen by Man or Astroman, a surf-rock masterpiece that pairs well with your kickboxing routine, your manic bedroom spider-hunt, or your immense effort to absent yourself from evil institutions that oppress the poor and actively pursue the degradation of local communities.