Local Matters

Community Sponsors

November 21, 2008 - 9:56am

Kauffman talks up the virtues of home and immobility down south in Atlanta

posted by Philip Anselmo in books, local, bill kauffman.

Author Bill Kauffman was recently invited to Emory University in Atlanta by a fledgling student group known as the Young Americans for Liberty. The group had organized an event on the theme of "the importance of traditional American values in the 21st century."

Kauffman, it turned out, fit that bill quite well.

From an article in the Emory Wheel:

“I always felt an intense homesickness no matter where I was,” Kauffman said. “I knew that where I was from mattered.”

Kauffman said that those who are immobile and choose to remain in a specific region are overlooked in modern society.

“Love’s truest, greatest expression as I’ve come to believe is immobility,” he said.

Kauffman gives vent to the rootlessness of American politicians, such as President-elect Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain, and he speaks of the divide between "televised America" and the rest of us. But all is not lost, he says.

Despite the problems that have arisen due to the lack of connection between Americans and their hometowns, Kauffman said he believes the situation can be fixed.

“Our country is lost, adrift, but there are sign posts pointing us home,” he said. “We have to rediscover the places in which we live. It is our task to find the sacred in the everyday.”

There's an especially poignant bell struck here... for me, at least. With little seeming compunction, Kauffman digs trenches—between the nomadic and the sedentary, "the televised" and "the rest of us" (which latter are also equated with the sedentary), and the various subdivisions of the rooted and the rootless—and he takes sides. At least since Cain and Abel, and especially during the Exodus, the nomadic and the sedentary have been set at odds with one another. Be it divine or secular, judgment pronounced on the nomad is often fueled by the prejudice and derision of the sedentary—witness the gypsies of Europe. A person or people are exiled as a means of protecting the homeland, as a preservation of the sanctity of the species, as it were. Yet the nomad is no such simple fiend. The Wandering Jew is both cast out and yet forever among us: at home in his homelessness. Nomadism, itself, is both a curse and the mark of blessedness in the Old Testament.

It's fascinating to hear Kauffman take up this ancient dialectic, which for sure is a prominent theme in his writings, if I'm allowed to comment on the little that I have so far read. Yet, it's also unsettling that the author is so decisive on adopting the directives of one to the exclusion of the other. I'm all for the shades of grey, myself. I see the extremes and opposites more as determiners of one another than exclusive entities. If I were to adopt Kauffman's language, I would have to call myself "rooted-rootless"—home is a plural: I have the one made by my family, several made by friends, even a few I notched out myself on the headboard of my own lonesome living in distant geographies...

But back to what's poignant here... despite Kauffman's own trench-digging, he is an incurable champion of the particular. Listen to what he says: "It is our task to find the sacred in the everyday." While I shy away from the language of the sacrosanct, I follow the same sort of maxim. It's why I call myself "a voracious pursuer of the idiosyncratic," which amounts to the same thing: a belief that the individual things, if they can be found—like so much else in this world of ours, they, too, have become rare and endangered—will speak the most to us about ourselves and the general things we only purport to understand.

So... really, all this to ask: Where do you fall? Are you an inveterate caster of deep and permanent roots? Are you a nomad? Do you feel like me: a "rooted-rootless" believer in the pluralism of home? Do you distrust one side or the other? What of the everyday? Is it sacred or does it just get in the way?

Darrick Coleman
Darrick Coleman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 weeks 3 days ago
Joined: Jun 18 2008 - 10:54am
I almost posted this very same article this morning :) A good read! Bill is certainly Batavia's champion!
Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 4 months ago
Joined: May 2 2008 - 9:36am
I respect Bill Kuaffman, but he's out of his mind on this...and many other things. The fact that Barack Obama and John McCain don't have 'roots' in one particular place added to their qualifications, they both are able to gauge how their actions will be taken in different cultural contexts because of it.
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 23 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
I'm with Bill on this point, however, I've a little more faith in the rootedness of Obama than Bill does. While he moved around a bit, his financially humble background, strong family ties give him a better grasp of community life. He might even be a good president for rural communities. However, people like McCain, Bush, H. Clinton ... hardcore nationalists who see the government as the greater cause, the solution to all problems, and the imperative of empire greater than community ... you only get that way when you've never developed a sense of community. We've had enough of leaders who ignore the regional diversity and sovereignty of local communities, who support plutocracy and push for empire at every turn. It's leaders like that who write Patriot Acts and pass "bailouts to nowhere." BTW: Philip, good post.
lazario Ladou
lazario Ladou's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 years 9 months ago
Joined: Aug 20 2008 - 5:52am
Kauffman seems to go very far away to praise the local A weed doesn't travel to talk about how great its soil is It just grows A weed disperses seed to spread itself around Seems Kauffman likes to seed himself lol Does Kauffman love the local or does he love himself for loving the local I'm not completely sure
lazario Ladou
lazario Ladou's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 years 9 months ago
Joined: Aug 20 2008 - 5:52am
and what the hell are traditional american values
Russ Stresing
Russ Stresing's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 years 2 months ago
Joined: May 19 2008 - 5:04pm
Being lauded by a group that calls American servicemen 'hired guns' might not be the compliment it appears to be. From their website: "Before taking the generic title "Veteran's Day," we previously used this day to commemorate the end of the great tragedy that was the Great War. I prefer the old name. Better to cheer the arrival of peace (however flawed the peace that followed WWI) than a generic day to celebrate our government's hired guns.* * Let me add a small caveat: I have no beef with American soldiers, I really don't. I just reject that their career choice is inherently noble, a proposition upon which Veteran's Day is founded." http://www.youngamericansforliberty.org/
Russ Stresing
Russ Stresing's picture
Offline
Last seen: 12 years 2 months ago
Joined: May 19 2008 - 5:04pm
I think I finally know what laz is talking about.
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 day 23 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2020 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button