The dualism of domestic and wild is...mostly false, and it is misleading. It has obscured for us the domesticity of the wild creatures. More important, it has obscured the absolute dependence of human domesticity upon the wildness that supports it and in fact permeates it. In suffering the now-common accusation that humans are “anthropocentric” (ugly word), we forget that the wild sheep and the wild wolves are respectively ovicentric and lupocentric. The world, we may say, is wild, and all the creatures are homemakers within it, practicing domesticity: mating, raising young, seeking food and comfort. Likewise, though the wild sheep and the farm-bred sheep are in some ways unlike in their domesticities, we forget too easily that if the “domestic” sheep become too unwild, as some occasionally do, they become uneconomic and useless. They have reproductive problems, conformation problems, and so on. Domesticity and wildness are in fact intimately connected. What is utterly alien to both is corporate industrialism—a displaced economic life that is without affection for the places where it is lived and without respect for the materials it uses.
The question we must deal with is not whether the domestic and the wild are separate or can be separated; it is how, in the human economy, their indissoluble and necessary connection can be properly maintained.
- Wendell Berry, “Conservationist and Agrarian” (2002), in BRINGING IT TO THE TABLE: ON FARMING AND FOOD (introduction by Michael Pollan), $14.95 paper
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