Thursday, 12 February 2009

John Seymour

One thing I forgot to mention about the Feile (post below): when the great Davie Philip spoke before the audience of 200 or so, he mentioned knowing John Seymour. I know Davie, but I had no idea he knew John Seymour, and later I found they had been arrested together in an environmental protest, when Davie was in his 30s and Seymour in his 80s.

Seymour, who died a few years ago, was a remarkable man -- we own many of his books on self-sufficiency, and would recommend them to almost anyone. He had been a sea captain, lived with Bushmen in the Kalahari, fought in World War II and finally settled in County Wexford, just south of us. He wrote the definitive works on self-reliant living, and was a "back-to-the-land" advocate when it was least fashionable, only later acquiring admirers in the then-tiny environmental movement. He reminded me of an Irish Wendell Berry, but instead of Berry's beautiful essays and poetry, he wrote step-by-step manuals that had their own utilitarian beauty.

He fits almost perfectly the "crunchy conservative" label -- traditional, populist and courteously radical. He died just before we arrived here. I wish I had met him.

2 comments:

RW said...

Hmm. This is the second reference to Wendell Berry I have come across - will check both of these fellows out.

mark said...

I love John Seymours books. I have kept a book of his on self suffecient living that i bought around 16 years old. I am 46 now. The books spine came apart, and I took it to Kinko's 3 years ago, and had them rebind it, this time spiral notebook style. I've had it longer than any other book I own. You could build a whole farm on the information in that book. And several businesses to boot. It is full of wonderful artwork.
Books like that arent't often made today.