This morning’s tease comes from a Wendell Berry anthology, The World-Ending Fire.
The idea was that when faced with abundance one should consume abundantly – an idea that has survived to become the basis of our present economy. It is neither natural nor civilized, and even from a ‘practical’ point of view it is to the last degree brutalizing and stupid.
The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around. A road, on the other hand, even the most primitive road, embodies a resistance against the landscape. Its reason is not simply the necessity for movement, but haste. Its wish is to avoid contact with the landscape; it seeks so far as possible to go over the country, rather than through it; its aspiration, as we see clearly in the example of our modern freeways, is to be a bridge; its tendency is to translate place into space in order to traverse it with the least effort. It is destructive, seeking to remove or destroy all obstacles in its way. The primitive road advanced by the destruction of the forest; modern roads advance by the destruction of topography.
You’ve reminded me I have this book in my Kindle library… 😮 which essay is this from?
It’s from the opening essay, “A Native Hill” — first published in ’68. After spending a few days with Ed Abbey and reading his letters to W.B. I decided it was high time to cozy up in Port Royal again. 🙂
Cool, I’ll look it up!
I’m still reading Embrace Fearlessly the Burning World by Barry Lopez (travel writer) and he mentions Berry once or twice. I’m not sure I would recommend it yet – parts of it are quite dry – but he shares a similar appreciation for the land.
Wendell Berry just makes my soul happy…. this little excerpt it no exception!
I recently just put out a book review on one of his novels, Jayber Crow. It’s on my blogger blog thesocialporcupine.com … would love to know what you think if you read it!!
Absolutely! Jayber was my intro to Berry, and I’m constantly listening to the audiobook version. 🙂 Thanks for the heads up!