Quoth The Raven, 12.02.15: Wendell Berry

I like reading Wendell Berry because I’m reminded of inhabiting this planet. I’m reminded I came from this planet, from it’s dust. And, I’m reminded–excepting a divine extraction or being chosen to colonize Mars–I will return to this planet. Dust to dust.

Isaiah reminds me God created this earth to be “inhabited.” This blueish orb is an intentional abode. One songwriters penned “this world is not my home, I’m only passing through” yet in a real and biblical sense home is what it is. Berry’s writings are reminders.

In an essay entitled, “Feminism, the Body and the Machine,” he considers the act of writing, the physical act. Not so much the creation of content, but how writing longhand, pencil to paper, may differ from using a computer. At center is the relation of the body to the mind.

At first glance, writing may seem not nearly so much an art of the body as, say, dancing or gardening or carpentry. And yet language is the most intimately physical of all the artistic means. We have it palpably in our mouths; it is our language, our tongue. Writing it, we shape it with our hands. Reading aloud what we have written–as we must do, if we are writing carefully–our language passes in at the eyes, out at the mouth, in at the ears; the words are immersed and steeped in the senses of the body before they make sense in the mind. They cannot make sense in the mind until they have made sense in the body. Does shaping one’s words with one’s own hand impart character and quality to them, as does speaking them with one’s own tongue to the satisfaction of one’s own ear? There is no way to prove that it does. On the other hand, there is not way to prove that it does not, and I believe that it does.




I do say that in using computers writers are flirting with a radical separation of mind and body, the elimination of the work of the body from the work of the mind. The text on the computer screen, and the computer printout, too, has a sterile, untouched, factorymade look, like that of a plastic whistle or a new car. The body does not work like that. The body characterizes everything it touches. What it makes it traces over with the marks of its pulses and breathings, its excitements, hesitations, flaws, and mistakes. On its good work, it leaves the marks of skill, care, and love persisting through hesitations flaws, and mistakes. And to those of us who love and honor the life of the body in this world, these marks are precious things, necessities of life. (from the aforementioned essay in The Art of the Commonplace, pgs 76, 78)

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Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

  • Susan Barkley Scott

    Points well-taken. Since I am SUCH a visual learner, I always found that studying by hand-writing notes on paper not only helped my rememberance, but it actually made it possible. During an exam when I needed to remember a certain fact, I could visualize its position on my notes paper and the look of the way I had written it.