If you've been badly mistaken, the reaction can be expensive—to it and to you. It's possible for the tuition to be too high, economically or ecologically or both. And that's why the destruction of the continuity of local communities and farm families is a significant loss. It's a loss that is practical.
That's been tried before, and it didn't work.
A great benefit, to me, of growing up in a tobacco-growing community was the talk. The work at times was very difficult and there was a lot of crew work—work-swapping—among neighbors. The talk was wonderful because the work was difficult. The talk could be very rich, wonderfully funny sometimes. And it would be handed down, you know.
People would remember. There was a group of us who worked together all the time. Most of us are old or dead now. One of us was Eddie Sharp, who was not only built on a very slight frame, but had had a crippling childhood disease.
He had done as much hard work as anybody. And here there was no harder work than the tobacco harvest. It's heavy, unrelenting work in very hot weather. Your clothes get itchy with sweat and chaff. It could be fairly miserable. By good fortune, I had a dear friend, James Baker Hall, who was a writer and a photographer.
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He was visiting us in , and I said, "We're cutting tobacco at Owen Flood's place. You ought to come out with your camera. There were a lot of people there who didn't understand what they were seeing. And I heard Eddie Sharp tell a group of them, "That was hard work. Wasn't any way you could do it to keep it from being hard. But you wouldn't believe the fun we had. Then it dawned on me that your writings are more countercultural, even more revolutionary than Thoreau's, because your objection to the Industrial Revolution is far more comprehensive than Thoreau's idyllic love of his small pond.
There's just no escaping him. I remember my first reading of Thoreau as I remember the day President Kennedy was shot. But Thoreau didn't stay very long at Walden Pond. How do you do it in the way that is kindest to the place? In Thoreau's day and on into Robert Frost's, a writer could be fairly confident that there was always going to be a sufficient farm population. There would always be people of the land on the land. Then that confidence came to be no longer possible, and that has forced me into thoughts that Thoreau didn't have to think.
Is there some kind of physical pleasure to be taken in writing by hand? I have a growing instinct to avoid mechanical distractions and screens because I want to be in the presence of this place. I like to write by the ambient daylight because I don't want to miss it. As I grow older, I grieve over every moment I'm gone from this place, because it is inexhaustibly interesting to me.
Unexpected wonders happen, not on schedule, or when you expect or want them to happen, but if you keep hanging around, they do happen. If a flock of wild turkeys gathers around that little building and under it, I hear them. Or I may see otters playing in the river. You trace the furniture from the tree.
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And if you have eliminated things on a computer, you lose the tracings, the path with each misstep along the way. Can you elaborate on this concern? But you can't submit writing to a publisher without putting it on a disc. And so I do have a bit of commerce with a computer that belongs to a friend of mine, who does a lot of my typing for me. One of the things that most impresses me is that you can lose things in a computer.
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It'll switch drafts on you. So, the computer can cause trouble. I don't go back and look at my old drafts very often, but I like to be able to do that when I need to. Someday someone will want to look at them. As for that analogy, I like the way that the history of the tree shapes the tree. There's no distinction between the tree and its history. You can lose yourself in that thought. But the old division may still be recognizable in the Black Patch War in western Kentucky, which was caused by the American Tobacco Company's monopoly in the first decade of the twentieth century.
When you have large-scale legitimated violence in a place that is divided as profoundly and bitterly as Kentucky was, the legitimate violence can cause illegitimate violence, a terrible local heartlessness and cruelty that feeds on itself and goes on and on. There is a similar disconnection between government economy and personal economy.
The so-called conservatives now are fussing because the government doesn't observe the same debt limits that people—or some people—observe in their private lives.
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I'm fully aware of the difference between a government and a household, but I think those people have a point. The Great Digest of Confucius makes explicit analogical links from the personal to the familial to the political. But don't laws and policies also matter? Because it's only through laws that you can have rules that make rivers cleaner. You've got to have principles. You've got to have policies. You've got to have laws.
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I don't quarrel with that at all. But I think that what I would call valid thought takes place between the abstractions and the particulars. For instance, the law, we know, works for justice. The law is meant to work for justice. But people who know themselves know that, at some point, justice had better be mitigated by mercy. And you don't get to mercy by a legal principle.
You get to mercy by way of imagination, sympathy, tenderness of heart—which are not weaknesses. LEACH: And there are other aspects of a society based on the rule of law that relate to the law but are not law itself, like respect for the other. Conversation or civil discourse becomes awfully important in a larger context. Does that make sense to you or not? You're making the grant of affection, forbearance, mercy, out of your own experience and, of course, out of cultural tradition. You're saying, to use the well-worn analogy, if I love my children, that puts me under obligation to assume that other people love theirs.
Is that right? BERRY: I have realized, more and more, that the impulse in my work is the impulse of local adaptation, which puts the burden squarely on my own life. It is understood that nonhuman creatures adapt to their places or they don't live. And for some reason that I can't figure out, even the biologists have excused our own species from that obligation.