I've always been a bit of a mystic when it comes to places (this is probably part of the reason I became a geographer). I often marvel at terrain, vistas, flora, fauna, and even (occasionally) the human-made components of the landscape. I'm always excited when I find art that captures some element of the aesthetic and wonder of a place. The screenshot above is captured from a video by adilblues on Vimeo that inspires me. I haven't seen all of these sights yet (perhaps one day), but I did stand in awe of the seascapes of Kenting on our first weekend here in July.
You too can spend watching 4 minutes of inspired wonder.
The seed is in the ground.
Now may we rest in hope
While darkness does its work.
Berry, Wendell (1998). A Timbered Choir. Berkley: Counterpoint. p. 131.
"This much is crystal-clear: our bigger-and-better is now like a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to be healthy."
Forward to A Sand County Almanac
One of my favorite poets whose writing inspired the name of this blog ("fragmentary things") writes regularly about the value of relationships, community, and being connected to the earth. For Berry, there is an almost spiritual emphasis on simplicity and sustainability. In an effort to maintain consistency in his own life, the poet farms using a team of horses and writes exclusively using paper and a pencil. His wife (and editor) then types his work using a typewriter that he purchased new in 1956.
In 1987 he wrote a thoughtful article about why he will never buy a computer. As a part of that piece, he included an interesting set of criteria for evaluating technical innovation as it relates to his own life and craft:
To make myself as plain as I can, I should give my standards for technological innovation in my own work. They are as follows:-
1. The new tool should be cheaper than the one it replaces.
2. It should be at least as small in scale as the one it replaces.
3. It should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better than the one it replaces.
4. It should use less energy than the one it replaces.
5. If possible, it should use some form of solar energy, such as that of the body.
6. It should be repairable by a person of ordinary intelligence, provided that he or she has the necessary tools.
7. It should be purchasable and repairable as near to home as possible.
8. It should come from a small, privately owned shop or store that will take it back for maintenance and repair.
9. It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.
The entire article is rather fascinating and provoked some rather vitriolic letters when it was published in Harper's. It's definitely worth a read, regardless of your persuasions. The article, responses, and Berry's counterpoint are all recorded online here:
Now though the season warms
The woods inherits harms
Of human enterprise.
Our making shakes the skies
And taints the atmosphere.
We have ourselves to fear.
We burn the world to live;
Our living blights the leaf
A clamor high above
Entered the shadowed grove,
Withdrew, was still, and then
The water thrush began
The song that is a prayer,
A form made in the air,
That all who live here pray,
The Sabbath of our day.
May our kind live to breathe
Air worthy of the breath
Of all singers that sing
In joy of their making,
Light of the risen year,
Songs worthy of the ear
Of breathers worth their air,
Of workers worth their hire.
- Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir
I saw the rise of an untamed industry
And I watched machines print a paper economy.
I saw my own self stand right in front of me
And I didn't do a thing.
I saw poisons pushed in the street
and prescription pills mingling in the mezzanine,
with a whole host of wealth of doctors and
Still poor people were dying from disease.
And I asked when is the revolution?
-Brett Dennen; I Asked Why
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.