|I found this copy of M.C. Escher's "Humanity" here.|
But if I pushed a little further, I could also say that I've been going through one of those periods ya go through where it's like you were, cognitively speaking, holding a neatly stacked little deck of cards and then tripped while walking and threw them all up in the air at once and they went every which-a-way. So I suppose another explanation could be that I've been playing mental 52-card-pickup for the last, oh, year or so.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Things have changed in my life. I started seminary here, started teaching a citizenship class that I adore, became a vegetarian, finally found a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders and is really helping, and got into a serious relationship. I also had a lot of issues with panic attacks early in the year, got a concussion in March and had a bunch of weird health problems this year.
Other things didn't change, things that maybe should change. I think about these things a lot.
The biggest thing I've thought about this year started with rediscovering the novels and short fiction of Wendell Berry. I love the world St. Wendell (this is what I call him, only partly kidding) creates in his fiction, but after an attempt to read everything he'd ever written back in 2009, I'd kind of forgotten about him until I saw him speak at the Kennedy Center in April of this year (thanks to The Best Writer I Personally Know, whose BOOK WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE SPRING OF 2013 WOOOOOOOOT!!!!!). When he spoke, I felt a nudgy-nudge at what he had to say about the environment and about U.S. agricultural policy, but more than that I felt that warm-blankety feeling I used to feel when I read his fiction... like this was a world I would love to inhabit, an agrarian world of close community and love of the land that I don't know but wish I did.
So I renewed my library card and started again with A World Lost... and it wasn't long before I was devouring his fiction again, 11 books in about 2 1/2 months. I also read The Unsettling of America and The Gift of Good Land, and then moved on to The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land, a collection of essays edited by Norman Wirzba that build on the agrarian writings of Wendell Berry. While I read that, I picked up Omnivore's Dilemma again, and this time I finished it.
I haven't read that much in a long time, and I'm not done. I have a stack of books behind the chair I'm sitting in that are also on the same theme... the failure of agricultural policy in the U.S.... the unhealthy, unethical, and unsustainable ways in which we've come to produce and consume food, and how this is wrecking our land and our bodies and our brains. A lot of these books have suggestions on what we can do better, things we can change. These things will help us and help our country, and it can be argued that the expense to the consumer in radically changing our food system would be evened out by the decrease in expenses we have for all of the health issues related to our consumption of poisonous food and our poisoning of land and water in the production of that food.