Wedell Berry

Berry, Wendell. Sex, Economy, Freedom, & Community. New York. Pantheon Books. 1993.
Wendell Berry, self-styled intellectual, social commentator and purveyor of common sense, authored a biting series of essays on the state of American life and economy, compiled in 1993 under the title Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community. This collection of commentaries on varied aspects of existence as Americans in the emerging global community is worthy of note in many of its accurate criticisms of American waste and pompousness, while laughable in regard to many of its assertions on matters of public policy. As such, one can gather a dual image of Berry as both narrow-minded ideologue and insightful cynic. So, while "Sex…" is certainly an easy read, the same does not apply to its author.
Berry introduces his essays with a preface centered on the value of education and the importance of understanding. It is here that the Kentuckian's backwoods wit shines in all its sarcastic glory. In a hilarious incisive listing of the basic assumptions accepted by most participants in modern "higher" education, Berry cites the system's failures and mocks its current goals. To point out the common understanding of the utility of education as a career tool, designed and obtained as a device for monetary profit, is perhaps the master stroke of the work, and Berry's third listed assumption does so masterfully. Also worthwhile is Berry's attack on jargon and its use as a placard of intellectual superiority, though it might be construed as betraying a general ignorance of the value of specialized language in specialized fields. Compounding this rationale is the post script to the preface, in which Berry maligns the supposed value of "electronic newspapers". Doubtless, from his early 1990's perspective, this now-common means of communication across the internet may have seemed fanciful and emaciating, while the pa…


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