Matt Haughey on what he’s learned from running MetaFilter for 11 years:
The perennial act of cutting-edge enterprise in reporting is to shove a camera or a microphone into the face of a grieving woman. But what is the qualitative difference between the man who cold-heartedly shoots another and the photographer who cold-heartedly photographs the corpse or grieving widow? Are they not simply two parts of the same epidemic failure of imagination, which is to say a failure of compassion and of community life?
Such exposures do not make us free, and the do not increase our knowledge. They only compound human cruelty by a self-induced numbness to the suffering of others and to our common suffering.
–Wendell Berry, Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition (2000), p. 87
More even than television, the interstate brought the modern world into Port William. More even than The Economy and The War, it carried the people of Port William into the modern world. It was a thing of unimaginable influence. People in Port William would find it handy to drive to work or to shop in Louisville. And Louisville would find it handy to grow farther out into the countryside. City lots would be carved out of farms, raising of course the price of farmland, so that urban people could enjoy the spaciousness of rural life while looking evening and morning at the rear end of one another’s automobiles.
–Jayber Crow in Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow (2000), p. 282
If a culture is to hope for any considerable longevity, then the relationships within it must, in recognition of their interdependence, be predominately cooperative rather than competitive. A people cannot live long at each other’s expense or at the expense of their cultural birthright—just as an agriculture cannot live long at the expense of its soil or its work force, and just as in a natural system the competitions among species must be limited if all are to survive.
–Wendell Berry, “The Agricultural Crisis as a Crisis of Culture” in The Unsettling of America (1972), p. 47
If we all behaved as honorably and honestly and as industriously as we expect our representatives to behave, we would soon put the government out of work.
–Wendell Berry, “Discipline and Hope” in A Continuous Harmony (1972), p. 124
Without a complex knowledge of one’s place, and without the faithfulness to one’s place on which such knowledge depends, it is inevitable that the place will be used carelessly, and eventually destroyed.
–Wendell Berry, “The Regional Motive” in A Continuous Harmony (1972), p. 67
People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with…
–Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), p. 6
[We have had a] rapid emergency of an all-instant society: instant therapy, instant religion, instant food, instant friends, even instant reading. Instancy is one of the main teachings of our present information environment. Constancy is one of the main teachings of civilization.
–Neil Postman, Teaching as a Conserving Activity (1979), p. 76