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Manifesto: The Mad Farmer, Consumer, Blogger, Whatever

As in the days of Amos, John of Patmos, John of the Cross, it's the poets who will save us, those of us who have ears to hear.  For the rest, it's the poets who will preserve the evidence, in hope that there will yet be ears to hear.

So today, Wendell Berry's Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front.

First, one liner note: Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a drawer.  In the early days of computers, data was recorded by punching holes into cards, literally, card stock, roughly 3"x7".  This was before web crawlers could find the word bread in a Facebook comment and then put up ads for kitchenware on your page.  The line in the poem, first published in 1970, is truer than ever.  The technology has simply got more efficient.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay.  Want more
of everything ready-made.  Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more.  Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you.  When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.









 

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute.  Love the Lord.
Love the world.  Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love somebody who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag.  Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand.  Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium.  Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit.  Prophesy such returns.


Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world.  Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable.  Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?


Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade.  Rest your head
in her lap.  Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it.  Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go.  Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry



And your homework for this week, gentle reader --

What does it mean to Practice resurrection?  What tuition will you pay?


Johannes der Evangelist in Patmos from a triptych by Hans Memling, 1479
photo of punched computer card by Litrefs used under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
photo of Immortal Tree, Humboldt Redwood State Park by Jan Kronsell, public domain
photo of fox from US Department of Interior, public domain
book cover from amazon.com

Comments

  1. I have loved this poem since I first encountered it. Thank you for posting it. This week and next I am practicing resurrection in the various medical specialists* offices I am frequenting... I am embracing the life that is offered from all the odd assorted places and holding it up to the light.

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