Lots of winsome, insightful, and always prophetic statements about injustice in this terrific interview. Berry tries harder than most of us to be a steward of the physical world, but his honesty in falling short is refreshing. Al Gore could learn a lesson from Berry’s humility and candor!
Here a few tidbits:
Have you tried to look at wind and solar energy?
Wind out here in this river valley is not much of an option. But we have thought of installing solar panels. And I say when I get time I’ll get around to that. But I’m leading an incredibly busy life. There are two or three candidates for every minute I have. We’re guilty. I am glad to say there are a number of electronic things I don’t have.
Did you like ‘Wild Blessings: A Celebration of Wendell Berry,’ shown at Actors Theatre in Louisville?
Yes, I was surprised to be moved by it. I didn’t know how I was going to feel about it. My family liked it, I think. It was a generosity to me on the part of Actors Theater and I appreciated it. They could hardly have been more kind and accommodating. I am of course a book person and value that moment in the quiet when a person sits down with a book. That’s what I’m writing for – that moment. I’m not a theater person. What they managed to do as theater people was far beyond anything I would be capable of. So I have to hand them a lot of credit and admiration for what they were able to do.
When you were younger, did you have a desire to be a famous writer?
I had a great desire to be a writer. I didn’t desire to be a famous one. I wanted to be a good one. Ken Kesey, a very good friend of mine who was a famous writer, said fame is a wart, and he meant it. It’s a disfigurement. You’re not famous as yourself; you’re famous for what people think you are. It’s a caricature.
Why haven’t you gone to a computer?
I just don’t want to. I just don’t want to be a part of that crowd that rushes out and buys every damn gadget that comes on the market. I’m just not going to do it. I don’t need it. I like to work in the quiet. I have a system of writing that is very satisfactory. I use a spiral notebook, and I write on the right-hand page. Anything I want to add I put on the left-hand page. If I don’t like what I’ve done, I rip pages out and start all over again. It’s pretty good technology. I have a pencil and eraser. It’s wonderful new technology, that eraser is.
Are you going to get a hybrid vehicle someday?
I don’t know. I’m going to be 76 years old in August, so talking to me about someday is kind of a provisional exercise.
Do you feel old?
When I’m tired, yes. It’s possible for me now to get tired and feel old. But being young is very habit forming and as I go about my work I don’t think a lot about being old. I’ve got pains. My back hurts. I don’t have the elasticity I used to have and I don’t have the endurance. But I’m still fairly capable physically.
Everything’s harder on a hill farm. But this is the kind of land that will teach you something in a hurry, about water and erosion control. And there’s all this woodland around. It’s been a great place to be.