I did. With great excitement. And next week is the big event. I’ve noted some divergent information floating around about the location of Wendell’s reading, so here’s the real deal: 5:30, UVA Small/Harrison Special Collections Library Auditorium, Thursday, December 3. The scuttlebutt holds that the crowd will be considerable, so get there early to claim your seat.
Never read Mr. Berry? Get thee to this list of his more than 40 books, including a genre for every taste: nonfiction, poetry, fiction. All of it articulates a vision of our American society that’s so forceful, so right, it stops you in your tracks. That’s not back-of-book hyperbole; the man is a shining light of letters.
In celebration of his visit, here’s a passage from the easy "The Body and the Earth," in the collection The Art of the Commonplace:
"Apparently with the rise of industry, we bgan to romanticize the wilderness—which is to say we began to institutionalize it within the concept of the ‘scenic.’ Because of railroads and improved highways, the wilderness was no longer an arduous passage for the traveler, but something to be looked at as grand or beautiful from the high vantages of the roadside. We became viewers of ‘views.’ And because we no longer traveled in the wilderness as a matter of course, we forgot that wilderness still circumscribed civilization and persisted in domesticity. We forgot, indeed, that the civilized and the domestic continued to depend upon wilderness—that is, upon natural forces within the climate and within the soil that have never in any meaningful sense been controlled or conquered. Modern civilization has been built largely in this forgetfulness."
I’ll think about that during my Thanksgiving drives. And meal.