What are some quotes from The Art of the Commonplace?

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Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing. To be healed we must come with all the other creatures to the feast of Creation.

This quotation, from the chapter the "Body and the Earth" in The Art of the Commonplace, maintains that physical healing and spiritual healing are not individual activities. We are all part of a larger community, a larger organism, that includes other people, a wider culture, and the planet. The idea that an individual person can find physical healing or spiritual salvation without being in relationship with other people is a mistake.

This leads to another quote from the same essay:

It is therefore absurd to approach the subject of health piecemeal with a departmentalized band of specialists. A medical doctor uninterested in nutrition, in agriculture, in the wholesomeness of mind and spirit is as absurd as a farmer who is uninterested in health. Our fragmentation of this subject cannot be our cure, because it is our disease. The body cannot be whole alone. Persons cannot be whole alone.

This quote also highlights Berry's central emphasis on the importance of community to individual human health. Individualism and atomization are, to Berry, the main problems that afflict our society. Going off by ourselves to find healing simply becomes part of the social larger disease of fragmentation and alienation.

My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can. In both our work and our leisure, I think, we should be so employed. And in our time this means that we must save ourselves from the products that we are asked to buy in order, ultimately, to replace ourselves.

This quote, from "The Agrarian Essays," points to another thesis central to Berry: that work should serve humans needs, rather than vice versa. We should work to live, not live to work. Living fully, Berry argues, involves both engaging in meaningful work and taking time away from work. The most effective way, therefore, to live fully, is to move away from consumerism. To live more simply by buying less frees us to live more meaningful lives. 


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The Art of the Commonplace

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