Monday, February 15, 2010

a man who is more than his elements

I have been reading John Steinbeck's seminal novel The Grapes of Wrath. In it, I came across a quote that is to me like the Gospel, the good word that comes down right from God so that all of us can know the truth again. Here it is:

For nitrates are not the land, not phosphates and the length of fiber in the cotton is not the land. Carbon is not a man, not slat not water nor calcium. He is all of these, but he is much more, much more; and the land is so much more than its analysis. That man who is more than his chemistry, walking on the earth, turning his plow point for a stone, dropping his handles to slide over an outcropping, kneeling in the earth to eat his lunch; that man who is more than his elements knows the land that is more than its analysis. But the machine man, driving a dead tractor on land he does not know and love, understands only chemistry; and he is contemptuous of the land and of himself. When the corrugated iron doors are shut, he goes home, and his home is not the land.

This distinction is important, I think. The difference between a person who knows the land, walks it, breathes it, and lives it, with the machine man, who conquers it, controls it, loathes it. I hope to someday be more like the former than the latter.

1 comment:

Oksana said...

you are AMAZING!!!!!