Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry

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 someone 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 millenium. 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.


O Docker said...

I do something that won't compute almost every day of my life.

I work in IT.

Tillerman said...

Well said OD. That was probably one reason why that line resonated with me so much too.

Pat said...

Let me run that through the spread sheet, assuming I got it through the laundry.

Chris Partridge said...

It's the line 'Denounce the government and embrace the flag' that disturbs me a bit.

Tillerman said...

I'm with you Chris. I'm not much of a flag hugger myself. But then a lot of the contrary sentiments in the poem don't make much logical sense to natural left brain types like me, but still somehow appeal at an emotional level to a deep unease with what industrialization and capitalism and the greed for quick profits have done to our world.

I'd rather put my faith in those "two inches of humus" in the forest than in the 60,000 barrels of crude a day spewing into the Gulf of Mexico right now.

Pat said...

Such tragedy ... think of what the royalty payments on that 60 000 bbls a day would have been if the well had been on land and the oil could have been fully confined, recovered, and sold.

With that kind of money you could send 5 000 kids from Louisiana to college.

PeconicPuffin said...

Chris et al...if you read Wendell Berry's books he's not a radical lunatic successionist. He's a profound thinker about agricultural and environmental issues, and has been writing brilliantly about this stuff for a very long time (I first read him in 1980..."The Unsettling of America".)

Tillerman said...

Thanks Puffin. I'm glad that at least one of my blogging friends has read Wendell Berry before and appreciates him.

I have to confess I hadn't heard of him before coming across a reference to this poem in a book I was reading this week. I looked it up on the Internet and it blew me away. I'm not much of a poetry reader but this one struck a chord. Maybe because I have been reading a fair bit lately about food, agriculture and the environment, but also because the imagery and vividness of his language is so astonishing.

A bit out of the normal run of the mill stuff here, not to mention off-topic, but I thought I would post it to see how folks reacted.

Tim Coleman said...

Love it

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