Whether he takes us to the Texas frontier or to 1970s Houston, his prose never gets in the way of his story. He moves ahead with the precision and simplicity of one of the McMurtry boys telling a story on the front porch of the family ranch house in Archer County, Texas.
The censorship of slavery no longer dictates Huck’s morality. Unlike Tom, Huck has begun to question his society’s standards, to weigh and consider what is just and right, and I hope that by reading this story, my students may follow him in this difficult endeavor.
The conservationist recognizes that the society we live in, as much as the natural world we live in, was given to us as a gift with the demand that we pass it on to future generations, and therefore it is neither easily discarded nor above reproach.
McMurtry couldn’t quite set the Bowie knife to the scalp of the Western like Cormac McCarthy did the same year, maybe because he knew those people weren’t grotesque caricatures; they were people he’d known and loved. And when he died last week, he was probably the last person in Archer City who had any connection to those people at all.
Fidelity to place needn’t (and shouldn’t) result in stuckness, a condemnation of ever moving at all. But we must beware falling into that second trap: rejecting roots altogether.
Populism can in fact be seen as being precisely a reassertion of democracy against the anti-democratic tendencies of managerial, technocratic elites.
The purpose of politics is to accrue power. Chavez knew this reality, and perhaps his funeral was his last, best opportunity to control the stage and direct the players.
Add the past year on to this already disturbing trend, and such destructive realities have only been further exacerbated. The need for human sociality is not a deficiency, nor is it something that we can just put on hold for an indefinite amount of time.
Despite differences that are exacerbated at the national level, we often share significantly more in common with our “enemy” when we interact with them at human scales.
From the Archives
Shortly after the 2001 terrorist attacks, Wendell Berry wrote, “The time will soon come when we will not be able to remember the horrors of September 11 without remembering also the unquestioning technological and economic optimism the ended on that day.” This, I fear, was one of the rare times Mr. Berry missed the mark. Collective amnesia is an American strong suit.
In Gender, Illich reveals the depth and scope to which capitalist modernity has unsettled family life and relations between men and women in general.
“How does one critique globalism without succumbing to would-be nationalist despots like Bolsonaro or Trump?” This was the earnest and sensible question a friend put...