Wendell Berry was AMAZING. Seeing him in person was wonderful. When I was a sophomore in college, Jane and I were in the same humanities class that forced us to read Jayber Crow. Neither of us actually read it during the semester, but I’m the eternal geek and read it after the semester ended. I’m glad I did; his writing brought a whole new perspective to me. It sounds cheesy, but his mellifluous words taught me to see the world as a whole, not just focusing on the small piece that I make up – I finally began to catch hold of the idea of season, of continuity, of communalism, of redemption.
You can find the link to Berry’s message at the Kennedy Center here.
The argument of Howards End has its beginning in a manifesto against materialism:
“It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness, to think that a thousand square miles are a thousand times more wonderful than one square mile . . . That is not imagination. No, it kills it. . . . Your universities? Oh, yes, you have learned men who collect . . . facts, and facts, and empires of facts. But which of them will rekindle the light within?14″
“The light within,” I think, means affection, affection as motive and guide. Knowledge without affection leads us astray every time. Affection leads, by way of good work, to authentic hope. The factual knowledge, in which we seem more and more to be placing our trust, leads only to hope of the discovery, endlessly deferrable, of an ultimate fact or smallest particle that at last will explain everything.