It's hard to know where to start in a paragraph to "introduce" Wendell Berry. For those who don't know his work, he is a farmer, novelist, poet and essayist whose writings are indispensable for anyone who thinks about the human place in nature. He is also, not incidentally, a Fellow of the Temenos Academy. I first read The Unsettling of American in the early '70's and actually used it as a text in an undergraduate philosophy course I was teaching in one of my early attempts at graduate school. I heard him speak in Iowa in the mid-80's. He has been an inspiration all these years.
Berry’s life and his books provide an antidote to one of the problems that plague our nation: a haunting sense of exile. He puts it this way: "The modern American version of exile is a rootless and wandering life in foreign lands or (amounting to about the same thing) in American universities." The university system has come to regard students as "customers" and degree programs as "products." Such a system graduates employees, not citizens. And a nation of employees is a corporation, not a nation at all. The one hope for America, Berry has been telling us for most of his life, is to come to know who we are as a people by coming to know where we are. For that, he counsels, we need imagination. You’ll need to read the book to truly understand what Berry means by this, but try this on: "(Imagination) is the power that can save us from the prevailing insinuation that our place, our house, our spouse, and our automobile are not good enough." Read the whole review.