The New York Times’ food columnist kicks it with Wendell Berry:
The sensibility of Wendell Berry, who is sometimes described as a modern day Thoreau but who I’d call the soul of the real food movement, leads people like me on a path to the door of the hillside house he shares with his wife, Tanya, outside of Port Royal, Ky. Everything is as the pilgrim would have it: Wendell (he’s a one-name icon, like Madonna, but probably in that respect only) is kind and welcoming, all smiles.
He quotes Pope (“Consult the genius of the place in all”), Spenser, Milton and Stegner, and answers every question patiently and articulately. He doesn’t patronize. We sit alone, uninterrupted through the morning, for two or three hours. Tanya is at church; when it’s time, he turns on the oven, as she requested before leaving. He seems positively yogic, or maybe it’s just this: How often do I sit in long, quiet conversation? Wendell has this effect.
Two weeks ago he was sleeping on the floor of Governor Steve “GET OFF MY BACK!” Beshear’s office and today he’s palling around with Barry Hussein:
Wendell Berry received the National Humanities Medal this afternoon, and President Obama praised him and his fellow recipients (including Joyce Carol Oates, Sonny Rollins and several others) in part:
The fact is that works of art, literature, works of history, they speak to our condition and they affirm our desire for something more and something better.
It was the writings of Thomas Paine that General Washington ordered his men to read before crossing the Delaware. It was spirituals sung by slaves around a campfire that helped to keep hope alive. We can think of the protest songs that tell the story of the civil rights movement, the photographs from the Great Depression that showed how folks were suffering but also how they were striving.
Time and again, the tools of change, and of progress, of revolution, of ferment — they’re not just pickaxes and hammers and screens and software, but they’ve also been brushes and pens and cameras and guitars.
And the arts and the humanities help us through the hard times and they remind us of what make the good times worthwhile. After all, the goal doesn’t always have to be so lofty. Sometimes, we just need a break, a chance to laugh or escape from the moment.
So all of the individuals that we honor today are part of this tradition
And of Mr. Berry specifically:
The 2010 National Humanities Medal to Wendell E. Berry for his achievements as a poet, novelist, farmer, and conservationist. The author of more than 40 books, Mr. Berry has spent his career exploring our relationship with the land and community.
Congratulations are in order!
And a couple of D-leaning politicos should maybe pick up a book.
President Obama will award Kentucky treasure Wendell Berry the 2010 National Humanities Medal tomorrow at 1:45 in the White House. I’m pretty sure that Wendell won’t have to bring his pillow with him, fortunately.