Literacy does not involve knowing the meaning of words

Wendell Berry opens his collection of essays, Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, with a piece entitled ‘The Joy of Sales Resistance’, which offers some wonderfully biting sarcasm. Here are a few gems:

The so-called humanities probably do not exist. But if they do, they are useless. But whether they exist or not or are useful or not, they can sometimes be made to support a career.

Literacy does not involve knowing the meaning of words, or learning grammar, or reading books.

The smartest and most educated people are the scientists, for they have already found solutions to all our problems and will soon find solutions to all the problems resulting from their solutions to all the problems we used to have.

Computers made people even better and smarter …. Or if some people prove incorrigibly wicked or stupid or both, computers will at least speed them up.

Having money stimulates the rich to further economic activity that ultimately benefits the rest of us. Needing money stimulates the rest of us to further economic activity that ultimately benefits the rich.

There is no connection between food and health. People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are healed by the health industry, which pays no attention to food. … It follows that there is no connection between healing and health. Hospitals customarily feed their patients poor-quality, awful-tasting, factory-made expensive food and keep them awake all night with various expensive attentions. There is a connection between money and health.

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