I have such a full-on man-crush on Wendell Berry that I pounce on anything written about him. This article in the New Yorker, titled “Going Home with Wendell Berry” was indeed a pleasure to read – yet coming out in the wake of those disgraceful Trump “go home” tweets – I felt an unusual bat-squeak of discomfort at Berry’s characteristic celebration of place.
The conversation goes as follows, the interviewer first:
The interview ranges over a range of subjects: the importance of limit, the contrast between those who think the purpose of life is self-realisation and those who think it is self-forgetfulness, and Berry’s admiration of the Amish. All great stuff.
But it was his high doctrine of place that bothered me more than usual. How do we stay loyal to the ground on which we live and those people we live amongst whilst not disparaging the experience of those for whom home is no longer understood in terms of a specific geographical rootedness? The same question stalks the debate between Freddie Sayers and Matthew Parris elsewhere on this site. It bothers me greatly that a sense of place and home are being wiped away – but when “place’ and “home” are weaponised against immigrants, then I flee into arms of the anywheres.