Wendell Erdman Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.
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The miraculous is not extraordinary but the common mode of existence. It is our daily bread. Whoever really has considered the lilies of the field or the birds of the air and pondered the improbability of their existence in this warm world within the cold and empty stellar distances will hardly balk at the turning of water into wine — which was, after all, a very small miracle. We forget the greater and still continuing miracle by which water (with soil and sunlight) is turned into grapes.
How would you describe the difference between modern war and modern industry — between, say, bombing and strip mining, or between chemical warfare and chemical manufacturing? The difference seems to be only that in war the victimization of humans is directly intentional and in industry it is accepted as a "trade-off.
Marriage is a perilous and fearful effort, it seems to me. . . . It creates pain that it is the only cure for. It is the only comfort for its hardships. . . . Though we had our troubles, we had them in a true perspective. The universe, as we could see any night, is unimaginably large, and mostly empty, and mostly dark. We knew we needed to be together more than we needed to be apart.
Ever since I was a little kid, I've had trouble with transitions. I don't mean the usual life transitions of birth, death, divorce, moving — everyone has trouble with those. No, I mean the little transitions, like the one between waking up and putting my feet on the floor. Or between turning off the car and going into the house. Or between getting out of the shower and getting dressed. You can see why life has been very, very hard for me.
How many women, she wondered, had poisoned their husbands, not for gain or for another man, but out of sheer inability to leave them. The extreme solution is always the simplest. The weed killer is in the soup; the man is in his coffin. . . . Murder is more civilized than divorce; the Victorians, as usual, were wiser.