Tag Archive: wendell berry

“From the story of Ajaolele’s trip to a distant market I turned to these ideas about evolution and about art to expand on the notion that Eshu is a god of uncertainty and accident, and that these functions are necessarily connected to his ability to change someone’s lot in life. These are all one and the same thing: leaving the village, the accident in the market, and the change of fortune. Ajaolele’s altered situation, his conversion into “a person with followers,” would never have come to him in the context of his own village, for the village is rule-governed and no man gets “brides without bridesweatlh” there. For a fundamental shift of that sort Ajaolele needs a happy accident, and for that it helps if he puts himself “on the road” and “in the market,” phrases I put in quotation marks because we should remember not to confine ourselves to their literal reading. At stake here is an attitude toward life, and you do not really need to leave town to have it. Duchamp makes that clear. You can be on the road at home and in the mind, attentive to the plenitude of coincidence that habit and design sometimes obscure. There is an old saying: “Luck is the residue of design.” Being “aware of Eshu” means entering a frame of mind in which the eye notices that residue all around it, the plentiful and ready-made world right at hand.” -Lewis Hyde, from Trickster Makes This World

It is a(n) (anti) habit of mine to make random choices as often as possible. I’ve developed this process over the years as my life has become busier and busier and the amount of conscious decisions I have to make on a daily basis has become more and more overwhelming. To the point where choosing a movie or choosing a book or choosing a topic to write about can paralyze me. There are so many wonderful things in the world to observe and ingest and participate in…sometimes it feels like the only option is to choose at random to ensure there is no confirmation bias preventing me from experiencing something new.

I realize it sounds a little crazy, but I actually have a process for choosing things at random. Several processes, actually*. For books, for instance, I use Goodreads as my gigantic reading list. I use it as a holding place for every single book that I see or hear referenced or recommended, and when it comes time to buy or borrow a book, I choose randomly from my gigantic list (generally using some sort of random number generator). I also usually choose multiple books – typically a mixture of fiction and non-fiction – which adds an element of mixed context to the randomness. The books I am reading together influence my experience of them individually.

For instance, a month or so ago, I happened to be reading The Ecology of Commerce, which had been loaned to me by a friend, along with some essays by Wendell Berry and Plutocrats. These were all chosen at random individually, and reading them together provided me with an in-depth study of cause/effect. Not to mention I’m pretty sure Wendell Berry was mentioned in both Ecology of Commerce AND Plutocrats, which made things even more interesting.

This is the kind of synchronicity that I get from allowing randomness in my life. It very much does open me up to more “happy accidents” and residual fate. The weaving of disparate ideas together to form a cloth of eclectic patterns and color combinations is a great source of inspiration for me. I’d never really thought about the benefits of this tendency I’ve had for some time now – thinking only that it enabled me to avoid having to make so many damn conscious decisions and never considering how opening myself up to the arbitrary might spur creativity and expansion.

Poem of the day is by Rilke, who I admit I am not really connecting with…but this poem seems applicable to this topic:

What Birds Plunge Through Is Not The Intimate Space

What birds plunge through is not the intimate space,
in which you see all Forms intensified.
(In the Open, denied, you would lose yourself,
would disappear into that vastness.)

Space reaches from us and translates Things:
to become the very essence of a tree,
throw inner space around it, from that space
that lives in you. Encircle it with restraint.
It has no limits. For the first time, shaped
in your renouncing, it becomes fully tree.

Submitted and Translated by Gabriel Caffrey

Rainer Maria Rilke
*Buddha the Grouch, my eldest son, makes fun of me for my obsession with random selection. He tells me “You spend so much time fighting for freedom and choice, and then you give up your choices to a random number generator!” I just nod and smile.
Mornings on the porch

Mornings on the porch

Working from home has been a lot like funemployment, only with slightly less time to waste. I need to make a few adjustments in priority, and maybe rein in some of my slack-time, but I’m amazed at how little “pressed for time” I’m feeling. It’s nice. I mean, I’m attributing it to the fact that I’m now working from home, but it could also be my general attitude about my job. Or maybe it was having 2 months off to really contemplate things. I feel like I know what’s important, and I’m getting that. I’m managing to spend time with friends and family pretty regularly. I’m still managing to do some amount of creative work every day. I’m reading. I’m getting a fair amount of exercise (though I’d prefer to get more)…little adjustments to make here & there, but overall, I can’t complain.

On the fridge

On the fridge

I do still need to get into some sort of time budget, as well as a budget budget. But there’s time for that. There’s time for that. There’s easing into time for that.

And all things, really.

all things, really

all things, really


After a year-long journey fighting her wrongful foreclosure, Rose McGee has won a settlement with CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae to stay in her home.

“We are working on final details for a settlement resolution, and I will be staying in my home,” said Rose.

70 community members gathered to support Rose in a prayer vigil circling the Government Center water fountain Tuesday afternoon before she went into settlement court, where she finally reached a deal with CitiMortgage and Fannie Mae.


Free Minds, Free People is a national conference convened by the Education for Liberation Network that brings together teachers, high school and college students, researchers, parents and community-based activists/educators from across the country to build a movement to develop and promote education as a tool for liberation. Read more about our mission and goals.

The 2013 conference will take place in Chicago, July 11-14. In the aftermath of a strike that brought teachers and community together to successfully challenge corporate education reform, we are excited to offer people who care about education justice the opportunity to connect, learn, and plan for action in this important city.




Blueberry Scones w/Lemon Glaze: http://www.katiescucina.com/2013/05/blueberry-scones-with-lemon-glaze/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FeVgcK+(Katie’s+Cucina)

University of California, Berkeley police arrested four people Monday morning and a plow turned under crops planted in protest at a makeshift farm encampment set up on university property.

Activists had occupied a tract of farmland — located near the corner of Marin and San Pablo avenues, part of a property they referred to as the Gill Tract — owned by the university on Friday, protesting plans to build senior housing and a grocery store on the site.


They reap the profits (and the ridiculous tax breaks) while we pay the cost. Funny how that works:

“Exxon Mobil Corp. is challenging $1.7 million in penalties proposed by federal safety regulators who faulted the oil company over a 63,000-gallon crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River, according to documents released Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation.In the first formal response to the alleged violations, Exxon attorneys said the company’s workers responded appropriately to warnings that the 12-inch Silvertip pipeline was endangered by erosion along the Yellowstone near the town of Laurel.” http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/05/14/exxon-challenges-1-7m-yellowstone-spill-penalty/

(File under: Why we need government, or some sort of citizen body, to determine and oversee equitable access to resources)

“Google has tried to put the best face on this by portraying the qualification process as a sort of community kumbaya, “allowing the citizens of City to determine where and when the Project will be deployed.” (The words come from Google’s contract with Kansas City, Mo.)But that’s nonsense. Had the city tried to make that determination through its elected representatives, say by requiring service to underprivileged neighborhoods, Google’s response would have been, “Adios.” The company’s goal was to spend money where it was likeliest to attain a critical mass of customers. The inevitable outcome was an economic one: redlining.Google insists it wants to close the digital divide. But private companies have to make money, and reinvesting in the public interest is always going to be a secondary concern.”http://news.zurichna.com/article/0c4a7a574b7821f4464332bda02e01dd/will-poor-people-get-google-fiber

“Chase, the lawsuit claims, effectively used California’s judicial system like a “mill” to obtain default judgments and garnish borrowers’ wages. The bank filed thousands of lawsuits every month from January 2008 until April 2011, the state claims. On one day alone, Chase lodged 469 such suits.

Chase also sought default judgments against borrowers who were military members on active duty, the suit claims.

“At nearly every stage of the collection process, defendants cut corners in the name of speed, cost savings and their own convenience, providing only the thinnest veneer of legitimacy to their lawsuits,” the complaint says.”



“It seems that we have been reduced almost to a state of absolute economics, in which people and all other creatures and things may be considered purely a economic in “units,” or integers of production, and in which a human being may be dealt with, as John Ruskin put it, “merely as a covetous machine.” And the voices bitterest to hear are those saying that all of this destructive work of mindless genius, money, and power is regrettable but cannot be helped.” -Wendell Berry