Thoughts about the individual, the writer, and Nate Shaw

I found Berry’s essays “Damage” and “Healing”, generally, to be very abstract and difficult to envision through my experiences. In “Damage”, he explains how writing cannot be an escape from his work, because it is his work. Even thinking about topics without putting pen to paper is part of the work of a writer. I think “Damage” can be taken to mean that a writer’s work is always in progress; it is lamentable if the writer becomes frustrated with the subject, or content with holding on to the same beliefs their whole life–therefore, becomes “damaged” and unwilling to treat it as more than just produced work that the writer can just produce and be done with and not give it another thought. The potential in writing is realized when the focus of the activity is changed to help the writer realize new things that hadn’t been fully understood when the writing began.

I find Berry’s assertion that we are all one Creation, and therefore cannot be Creators, to be confusing, in “Healing”. Perhaps it’s just not the right term, because people can create works of art or other things for people to enjoy, and they’d be contributing to society, which goes along with Berry’s belief that doing something in accordance with others is “good work”. His caution of standing alone, when the outer circle stands against, recalls to mind the example of Nate Shaw in “A Remarkable Man”, which resulted in his being imprisoned. I think unrest such as that was created can be a good thing for society, because it brings attention to other things that might’ve been happening in the past or present outside your own community or your own experience, and the emotion and conversation sparked from onlookers will drive us to have a better society overall in the future.

Class Discussion Question:

Do you think Buckminster Fuller, the person that Berry criticized for hyping up modern technology for expanding knowledge and not speaking honestly and from the heart like Nate Shaw, is somewhat alike to Wendell Berry? Do you think Berry judged too harshly?


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