How Dave Brown Surprised Me
In Corning, New York

Dateline: 27 October 2015

"Material Culture"
By: Beth Lipman

It was one month ago yesterday (September 26, 2015), right next to an example of modern art titled "Material Culture" when Dave Brown surprised me.....

Marlene and I were in Corning, New York that day. She had planned a rendezvous get-together with some old high-school friends at the Corning Museum of Glass

Peggy and her husband, Dick, came from out near Buffalo. Anne came up from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Roger came from Moravia, NY, which is where Marlene and I live, and where we all went to high school (Class of '76), but I rarely see Roger. Fact is, I rarely see anybody, because I really "don't get out much," which is what makes this story all the more amazing.

So we met our old friends in the entrance lobby. It had been four years since we were last all together for a nice visit. We did the hugging thing and meandered into the museum. It's a pretty big museum, and it's a nice one. I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of glass history, glass technology, and even glass art. There is old glass art and modern glass art. 

The modern glass art was first up on our self-guided tour. Some of the modern glass art is kind of strange. In fact, most of it is kind of strange, and hard to understand. But when I came upon Material Culture, I got it. The whole thing resonated with me.

As the picture above shows, Material Culture is a small black table piled with an odd assortment of clear glass pieces—glass goblets, and bowls, and plates, and such. The little table is crammed with more glass than it can hold. The glass objects are all jumbled and precariously balanced. Some  have fallen off the table and broken to pieces. In short, the little table is overwhelmed with excess.

Discussions of Material Culture revolve around the "fragility and transience of life and earthly delights." Well, okay, I can see that. But I also saw cultural excess, vanity, chaos, and the impending collapse of industrialized civilization. 

I was reading about the display and taking it in and telling Marlene about it and I said to Anne, "Anne, it's about cultural collapse." She looked for a moment, realized what I was saying, and said, "We've already collapsed." And I said, "Yes, but after it all falls apart, the little black table will still be there."

I was thinking on this—about the little black table and what it might represent—as we all started to move on to another display, and then I heard someone behind me say my name.

I turned around and, if I remember correctly, Dave Brown said, "Hi Herrick." I looked at him and tried to figure out who he was, but my memory wasn't helping, and he said something about reading my blog, and I realized that I didn't know Dave Brown, because I had never seen Dave Brown before in my life, but he knew me because he reads The Deliberate Agrarian.

Wow. This was a first.

A brief discussion ensued. Dave introduced me to his wife and two children. The old high-school friends looked on in amazement. Then Dick took a picture of us all with Marlene's iPhone...

Marlene, me, and the Brown family,
with "Material Culture" in the background.

The Browns are from Warriors Mark, Pennsylvania. I'm from Moravia, New York. We met, by chance or Providence (depending on your world view), at the Corning Glass Museum, right next to a piece of modern art depicting the impending collapse of industrial civilization. It was the highlight of the day for me.

Maybe I should get out more often.


Bob Hill said...

Hello Herrick,

You are famous around my house also, I would recognize you and want to meet you too if I saw you on the street. With respect and appreciation... Best regards, Bob

Anonymous said...

Herrick, Bless YOU! For if that was the highlight of your day!
Know this, You are upheld as a valued mentor and an entrepreneur of talents that are not found in any other web space that I have visited. Your gift of sharing your thoughts and your experiences in agrarian practices and in lifes travails, have endeared many to you! It's just that we'll never ever bump into you in NY.

so, know that what you so willingly share with us every day, is so appreciated.
And, yes, there is some envy in Mr. Brown being fortunate and gifted, by providential
intervention to have gotten to meet you face to face to tell you Thank you for all you do and share with us!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Herrick, for taking the time to speak with us. You are a man of faith and virtue, which we should all aspire to! Thanks again for your graciousness and your work here and in your book. God bless you & your family. -Dave Brown

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Dave—

Thanks for the comment. It was a brief encounter, but I sensed immediately that you were a brother. It was truly a pleasure to meet you and your family.


Herrick Kimball said...

Bob, Aonymous, and Everyone else Who Reads This—

Well, if you ever see me "out there" make sure you DO say hello.

I've often thought that if I went to some sort of agrarian-themed event, like the Common Ground Fair in Maine (been there once, years back), or one of those Mother Earth News fairs (never been), or even the annual New York State Steam Show (go almost every year), it would be neat to mention it here on the blog and arrange a meet-and-greet "flash mob" (of sorts) at a certain time and at a certain place, for anyone who reads this blog.

But I really don't go to many events, especially if they involve a lot of travel time (I don't know how I could do that and live what I espouse, meaning an agrarian lifestyle that includes a home-based business). And, truth be told, this blog does not have as many "faithful" readers as some people think it does. I may be "famous" around your house, Bob, but my measure of fame is very small, and I'm thankful for that.

Here's a final thought.... Anyone who has read this blog for long actually knows me better than most of my family and friends.

Keevan Abramson said...

I'm reflecting on your recent blog. Glass is made from the fusion of silica sand including recycled glass and and this is artistic representation is as you point out," the impending collapse of industrialized civilization." But in reality, this is an entirely natural process of recycling, ie. ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Your (chance) meeting with Dave Brown is, like the fusion of matter into glass, emblematic of the amalgamation of civilization brought on by modern technoledgy and to use your agrarian model, a composting process with future beneficial results. The black table will have company, maybe even present adversaries.

I live in Fort Bragg CA and below is a link to a website about the positive affects of a past community dump site that has brought joy to many people. In fact, it has been so picked over, there is little left and visitors are asked not to take any remaining fragments.,_California%29

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Keevan,

A thought provoking comment, for sure.

And the glass beach link is very interesting.

Thank you.

FatJuniesFarmette said...

Enough of the head-swelling comments about you (LOL). Your wife is SO PRETTY! Lovely photo of both families.