Beware the gilded cage, although I don’t believe that living a life on the land need contradict individualism. In the sense that you may develop a stronger sense of self and purpose, and a feeling of contributing to something bigger than yourself, it might actually enhance it.
The modern world worships the idea of the self, the individual, but it is a gilded cage: there is another kind of freedom in becoming absorbed in a little life on the land. In a noisy age, I think perhaps trying to live quietly might be a virtue.
Rebanks’ English Pastoral is a slim and quietly impassioned account of his family’s involvement in the transformation of farming from its age-old practice to a full on globalised industry with a number of doubtful outcomes, followed by an endeavour to move forward (not backward) to a more sustainable approach to farming. It’s a succinct overview of the complexities of making that transition. See our tribute to Rebanks’ earlier book, which touches on similar issues, A Shepherd’s Life.
Source: James Rebanks, English Pastoral: An inheritance (London: Penguin, 2021), p. 210
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