I’ve been a bit stymied this week by bad news – didn’t want to cloud this blog with my brown study. I just want to say briefly that news that the Palm Beach Post, an entity owned by the Cox family (net worth 12 billion) of Cox communications ( an entity that netted 15 billion dollars by the year) is closing down half its newsroom. I’m sure father Cox is turning over in his grave at the mendacity of his children (how much money do you really need????) who are forcing people out of work on the cusp of their retirement years, 29 years of service – two months away from full health benefits, sorry!!! I interned there while in grad school, I wanted to have the experience of working for a good photo paper that covered it’s local community. It was a great family. I’m really sorry to see it go. Thanks Cox Corporation. Hope you’re investors enjoy their fat dividends while your employees sweat the next 10 years before they are eligible for medicare. America thanks you for your dedication to public service (why did we ever think that newsgathering being profitable was a good idea?) and your commitment to the great American way.
On a tangential but positive note, I was reading in the fabulous Sun magazine, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before, an interview with novelist, poet, essayist, teacher, and family farmer, Wendell Berry. I’ve heard his name bandied about from time to time, but I’ve never read any of his work. This is crazy because he really epitomizes an ideology to which I struggle to subscribe. About the importance of community, communication, landscape, identity, food production, and ecology. I’m checking some of his work out of the library and going to pursue his as a subject for the next installment of the A Sense of Place series. Here’s some quotes from the article of his I found meaningful:
To make yourself a passive receptacle for information, or whatever anybody wants to pour into you [advertising? my q] is a bad idea. To be informed used to be a meaningful experience; it meant “to be informed from within.” But information now is just a bunch of disconnected data or entertainment and, as such, may be worthless, perhaps harmful. As T.S. Eliot wrote a long time ago, information is different from knowledge, and it has nothing at all to do with wisdom.
Greed is a part of human nature, and greed is the root cause of these disasters. Once you have greed and the means of exploitation, the high-toned rationalizations – in other words, the excuses – folow as a matter of course. A real culture functions to limit greed. Our culture functions to increase it, because, as we are repeatedly tod, it’s profitable to do so, though the majority of the profits go to only a few people.
Real reading, of course, is a kind of work. But it’s lovely work. To read well, you have to respond activelyt o what the writer’s saying. You can’t just lie there on the couch and let it pour over you. . . . The poet John Milton understood that the best readers are rare. He prayed to his muse that he might a “fit audience find, though few.”
It’s awfully hard to have an idea that somebody else hasn’t already had, you know. The French writer Andre Gide worried that he wasn’t original enough, and then he finally consoled himself by realizing that the same things need to be said over and over again, because the times change, and the context shifts, and the language changes, and the ideas need to be expressed again in new ways, to be submitted anew to the test of sentences.
When I figured out I could be perfectly happy and not be a writer, I became a better writer. . . . The unhappiest people in the world may be the ones who think their happiness depends on artistic success of some kind.
Thank you Wendell Berry.