Berry paints pride and despair as two sides of the same coin, both equally culpable in poisoning creative work
“True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation. One’s inner voices become audible… In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives.”
by Maria Popova / Brainpickings
“One can’t write directly about the soul,” Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary. Few writers have come to write about it — and to it — more directly than the novelist, poet, and environmental activist Wendell Berry, who describes himself as “a farmer of sorts and an artist of sorts.” In his wonderful and wonderfully titled essay collection What Are People For? (public library), Berry addresses with great elegance our neophilic tendencies and why innovation for the sake of novelty sells short the true value of creative work.
Novelty-fetishism, Berry suggests, is an act of vanity that serves neither the creator nor those created for:
Works of pride, by self-called creators, with their premium on originality, reduce the Creation to novelty — the faint surprises of minds incapable of wonder.
Pursuing originality, the would-be creator works alone. In loneliness one assumes a responsibility for oneself that one cannot fulfill.
Novelty is a new kind of loneliness.
Berry paints pride and despair as two sides of the same coin, both equally culpable in poisoning creative work and pushing us toward loneliness rather than toward the shared belonging that true art fosters: