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Perhaps the appealing vision of neighborliness that For the Hog Killing, 1979 presents, and the image of agricultural community that it provides, can challenge those of us who are encouraged by the book to channel our memory into the practice of hope.
Women like Tanya bring artistry and honor to everything they touch: the homes they inhabit, the land they steward, the children they raise. These photographs are testimony to the clear, sharp eye of a woman who is herself an artist—and who brings that artistic gaze to every endeavor she undertakes.
Lana Del Rey. Wendell Berry. Stephen King. Singer-songwriter. Poet-novelist-essayist farmer. Horror writer. What brings these three seemingly disparate artists together in my imagination? Hope.
Why have we persisted in peeing outdoors well after the advent of outhouses and toilets?
Being wealthy doesn’t make Chouinard a better representative of the values that he shares with Berry, but recognizing that Berry is not alone and that these values can be brought into the wider world, if imperfectly, makes their embrace of limits and simplicity more compelling and their approach to life seem more possible for others.
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.