Tuesday, November 25, 2003
Allie, I took the following from Wendell Berry's The Art of the Common Place (part III page 138). I have rewritten it to flow from me. I find it difficult to post a photo or a story without giving credit now. It is a struggle between the advice of Einstein and the voice of those around me who are 'more true' than I. Einstein said the key to creativity is hiding your sources. The voice of truth says: tell us where it came from. As you see, I am leaning more towards truth these day . . .at least as far as you can tell. . .*snicker*.

I was walking with a friend earlier this fall, and we happened upon a field planted in various densities of plant populations. My friend pointed to a Maximilian sunflower growing alone, apart from the others. He said, "There is a plant that has 'realized its full potential as an individual.'" Clearly it had. It was tall and had many long branches heavily laden with blossoms - and the branches had broken off, for they had grown too long and too heavy. The plant had indeed realized its full potential as an individual, but it had failed as a Maximilian sunflower. We could say that its full potential as an individual was this failure. It had lived outside an important part of its definition, which consists of both its individuality and its community. A part of its properly realizable potential lay in its community, not in itself.

In making a metaphor of this sunflower, I do not mean to deny the value or virtue of a proper degree of independence in the character and economy of an individual, nor do I mean to deny the conflicts that occur between individuals and communities. Those conflicts belong to our definition, too, and are probably as necessary as they are troublesome. I do mean to say that the conflicts are not everything, and that to make conflict - the so-called "jungle law" - the basis of social or economic doctrine is extremely dangerous. A part of our definition is a recurring contest over the common ground: Who shall describe its boundaries, occupy it, use it, or own it? But such contests obviously can be carried too far, so that they become destructive both of the commonality of the common ground and of the ground itself. By ground, I mean the actual ground that is shared by all involved.

- posted by -g @ 7:56 PM | | 0 rocks in pond


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