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Missive #132

“Here is a human being speaking with calm and sanity out of the wilderness. We would do well to hear him.” — The Washington Post Book World

The Art of the Commonplace gathers twenty-one essays by Wendell Berry that offer an agrarian alternative to our dominant urban culture. Grouped around five themes — geobiography, an agrarian critique of culture, agrarian fundamentals, agrarian economics, and agrarian religion — these essays promote a clearly defined vision that is compelling and of interest to people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, ill-health, and destructiveness of contemporary American culture.
Most of these essays are from the 1980’s and early ’90s. I liked them a lot as you can tell be the number of quotes I have selected. Recommended, except for Book V.Readers will find in these illuminating essays discussions on such questions as: why is agriculture becoming culturally irrelevant, and at what cost? What are the forces of social disintegration and how might they be reversed? How might men and women live together in ways that are to the benefit of both? And, how does the corporate takeover of social institutions and economic practices contribute to the destruction of human and natural environments? Whether it be through his staunch support of local economies, his defense of farming communities, or his call for family integrity, Berry emerges as the champion of responsibilities and priorities that serve the health, vitality and happiness of the whole community of creation. — From the Introduction

The quotes:

It is plain to me that the line ought to be drawn without fail wherever it can be drawn easily. And it ought to be easy (though many do not find it so) to refuse to buy what one does not need. If you are already solving your problem with the equipment you have — a pencil, say — why solve it with something more expensive and more damaging? If you don’t have a problem, why pay for a solution? If you love the freedom and elegance of simple tools, why encumber yourself with something complicated?

According to the industrial formula, the ideal human residence (from the Latin residere, “to sit back” or “remain sitting”) is one in which the residers do not work. The house is built, equipped, decorated, and provisioned by other people, by strangers. In it, the married couple practice as few as possible of the disciplines of household or homestead. Their domestic labor consists principally of buying things, putting things away, and throwing things away, but it is understood that it is “best” to have even those jobs done by an “inferior” person, and the ultimate industrial ideal is a “home” in which everything would be done by pushing buttons. In such a “home,” a married couple are mates, sexually, legally, and socially, but they are not helpmates; they do nothing useful either together or for each other. According to the ideal, work should be done away from home.

The freedom of speech is a public absolute, and it can remain absolute only so long as a sufficient segment of the public believes that it is and consents to uphold it. It is an absolute that can be destroyed by public opinion. This is where the danger lies. If this freedom is abused and if a sufficient segment of the public becomes sufficiently resentful of the abuses, then the freedom will be revoked. It is a freedom, therefore, that depends directly on responsibility. And so the First Amendment alone is not a sufficient guarantee of the freedom of speech.

“If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.” — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Speech

What has happened is that most people in our country, and apparently most people in the “developed” world, have given proxies to the corporations to produce and provide all of their food, clothing, and shelter. Moreover, they are rapidly giving proxies to corporations or governments to provide entertainment, education, child care, care of the sick and the elderly, and many other kinds of “service” that once were carried on informally and inexpensively by individuals or households or communities. Our major economic practice, in short, is to delegate the practice to others.

To make too cheap and sell too high, there are two requirements. One is that you must have a lot of consumers with surplus money and unlimited wants. For the time being, there are plenty of these consumers in the “developed” countries. The problem, for the time being easily solved, is simply to keep them relatively affluent and dependent on purchased supplies.
The other requirement is that the market for labor and raw materials should remain depressed relative to the market for retail commodities. This means that the supply of workers should exceed demand, and that the land-using economy should be allowed or encouraged to overproduce.

Lawyers and community advocates say they are seeing more Afghans come through the Southern border since last winter. Now, every month, hundreds of Afghans are trying to cross through the Darién crossing; more than 3,600 Afghans have traveled this route since the beginning of 2022, per officials in Panama, the New York Times reported. – Afghans Left Behind by the U.S. Face Hardships After Crossing from Mexico by Sanya Mansoor

The obvious question is rarely asked: how the hell are Afghans getting to Panama to then stroll to the U.S.?… Afghanistan is a war torn impoverished country so where are all of these Afghans getting the money to fly to Central America? The whole world is somehow making their way to Central America and then traipsing the length of Mexico to end up on our southern border. Who is paying for their travels? Who is paying for their food and cell phones and providing all of the very new looking clothing they are wearing? — Brown Plus black Equal Red by Arthur Sido

The article by Mr. Sido is a good one about the invasion of our southern border. His closing paragraphs:

Social services across the country are already strained and millions of extra mestizos will make it worse. When the cartels really start to get a foothold in major cities, they are going to need to evict the current crop of black gangs and that is going to lead to serious bloodshed.
The facts are indisputable. We have lost our country, now we just wait for the fireworks to really start. They are coming and soon.

The International Mathematical Olympiad USA Team, sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America’s American Mathematics Competitions (MAA AMC), earned second place in the 64th (2023) International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). Take a look at the last names of the team members and see if that tells you any thing.
Jeff Lin, Derek Liu, Maximus Lu, Eric Shen, Alexander Wang and Alex Zhao

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