Monday, May 5, 2008

I Love Mountains Day - Wendell Berry

Nothing flashy. Just plain-spoken wisdom, as always.


Matt Mullenix said...

I believe he told no jokes, or just one, in that speech. What do you think? I'm not sure people are prepared to hear plain-spoken wisdom anymore, unless it is used to incite some temporary catharsis---laughter or anger.

I was waiting for Berry to say that while some are gathered shivering at the steps of this courthouse, many others will watch and admire this speech on YouTube, thus supporting the vast commerce in electricity that is bringing down the mountains behind me.

Henry Chappell said...

Matt, I recall only one joke, the comment about environmental groups buying their fair share of the KY legislature. I suppose you might count his dry assertion that the legislature is a "wholly-owned subsiderary of the coal industry." I think that people today expect to be entertained. As a result cleverness and slick presentation are mistaken for wisdom. Michael Moore and Rush Limbaugh come to mind.

The whole time I was admiring his speech I was thinking about his essay, "Why I'm Not Going to Buy a Computer." Moral clarity is awfully hard to come by these days. Surely WB winces whenever he thinks about the electricity needed to turn one of his typed manuscripts into a book that you and I will order from Amazon.

Matt Mullenix said...

Exactly. He is nothing if not always on message!

That's why I was dismayed (for him, mainly) to hear frequent laughter. He obviously understands humor and hyperbole but I don't think he is making jokes about this. The frequent laughter was well-intentioned but I saw it as evidence of general unfamiliarity with Berry's writing. If you read a lot of him, you realize he means every word, and usually literally.

ON another note, that's the first time I've heard him speak. Glad (and somehow surprised!?) to hear a good southern accent.