One of my favorite book titles is Another Turn of the Crank by Wendell Berry. The first time I heard of it was when my literary agent, Victoria Shoemaker, mentioned it to me. It caused me to burst out laughing. I’ve yet to read this collection of essays, but I’ve read others by Berry, so I got the title immediately. The meaning is multi-layered. Berry is a farmer and inclined toward older, more mechanical ways of doing things. Actually, he prefers to do things by hand as much as possible. What made me laugh, though, was Berry’s humorous acknowledgment of himself as a relentless crank—that is, someone who is utterly appalled by the direction modern life has taken and feels an urgent need to alert others to the facts.
During my hiatus from this blog, I reread every post. I’d assumed that I’d want to edit some posts and delete a bunch of others, but that wasn’t the case. I did delete a few innocuous posts, but I changed very little. Like Berry, I’m very critical of the way things are going. I understand his desire to acknowledge his persistently critical views with some humor. As far as I’m concerned, it’s very difficult these days to avoid being critical. Still, I want to make an effort at writing more about the world I’d like to see. Those of us who oppose the materialism and egotism of the modern age need to develop a solid foundation from which to build as the present-day order crumbles—which it seems to be doing. (I meet a surprising number of people who feel that the country—the empire—is seriously fraying. I feel it constantly.)
Notwithstanding the current troubles, there are answers, and we need to be able to present them with clarity to those who are looking for them.