changes in what I did for a living. WhenrnI lived in New York, I worked as a staff editorrnat Harper’s and EUe. Now I am arncontributing editor to another magazinerncalled Chronicles, long-distance. Movingrnhome several years ago by choice, Irnwas forced to switch from a job that wasrnmostly editing to full-time freelancernwriting. As it happens, I have exchangedrnsomething good for something better,rnbut I would have made the change in anyrncase, so that I could work in the place Irnwanted to be.rnLiving in the provinces, as people onrnthe East Coast view Kentucky, even has arncertain practical advantage: not only do Irnhave more to say about a part of thernworld that belongs to me and interestsrnme more than New York City ever did,rnbut while there are hundreds or thousandsrnof freelance writers in New York,rnthere aren’t 50 in Kentucky. I will admit,rnof course, that most magazine editors arerna thousand times more interested in NewrnYork than Kentucky. But finding a nichernis part of the challenge, and if your storyrnis good and you can tell it moderatelyrnwell, much of the time you can find arnpublisher.rnYour hometown is like your languagern—you will never be as fluent in anotherrnplace or another tongue. You willrnnever own or owe another place as much.rnYou will never feel as strong a tie to anotherrnstate or, heaven knows, anotherrncountry. Blood is thicker than water, andrnthat is as true of motherlands as of mothers.rnIf you have the good fortune to livernin a state where your family has livedrnfor several generations, then its historyrnis your history. You may be noddingrnthrough American History class now, butrnif you knew you had an ancestor at thernCivil War battles of Shiloh or Chattanooga,rnyou would wake up, wouldn’trnyou?rnExcellence or genius or whatever yournwant to call “high art” derives from anrnartist who has command of his mediumrn—paint, words, music. To take arnrock-and-roll example, the bands likernSoundgarden or Nirvana that createdrnSeattle-style alternative rock would notrnhave been as interesting if, right as theyrnformed, the band members had rentedrna van and moved to New York. Theyrnwould not have done squat in New York;rnNew York is such a heavily commercializedrnrock scene that its talent is producingrna marketing phenomenon likernMadonna, not original music.rnThe best music is almost never fromrnNew York or L.A. REM and the B52srngrew out of Athens, Georgia. DelbertrnMcClinton grew out of the Texas clubs.rnLeadbelly grew out of an earlier, blackrnTexas and Louisiana tradition, just as zydecorngrew out of New Orleans and bluegrassrnout of western and eastern Kentucky.rnThese musicians developed theirrnvoice in the places they were from; andrnthey could create an individual style andrnsound because they had a tradition andrninfluences to draw on, a base that wasrnhuman and personal. Only God canrnmake something out of a void. That isrnwhy rootless people, weaned on the culturalrnequivalent of sugarwater, cannotrnmake real music. Just pop.rnI am twice as old as most of you. Butrnold as I am I remember very well what Irnfelt in high school. When I was a seniorrnI could not wait to get out of Louisville,rnto start new somewhere else. In my casernI went to Yale in New Haven, a very NewrnEngland school; I did not want to gornLIBERAL ARTSrnCULTURAL DIVERSITYrnAccording to tlie May 25 edition of the London Sunday Telegraph, the police in SouthrnAfrica have formed special units to protect men and women accused of “witchcraft.”rnFollowing a series of killings in the villages of the Northern Province—143 suspectedrnwitches died between April 1994 and February 1995—the village of Helena has becomerna sanctuary for accused witches who have fled their homes. Black villagers whornare “quick to blame any adverse act of fate on black magic” often sever the organs andrnlimbs of their victims, including “the genitals, hands or the head, all of which are believedrnto bring good luck.”rnsouth, and I never dreamed of going torncollege in Kentucky. Since I felt that wayrnI could hardly blame you for feeling thernsame. I am a localist to the extent ofrnwishing that you would stay in your staternor at least in the South, where there arernplenty of excellent schools, but I cannotrngive advice that I myself would neverrnhave taken.rnAnd I will say this for going to collegernand then working up north for severalrnyears: it made me appreciate what I hadrnat home, and understand that outside ofrnKentucky in particular and the South inrngeneral, everywhere else is a foreignrncountry. Four years in New Haven couldrnnot make me a Yankee any more thanrnfour years at Oxford would have madernme a Brit. All travel can really do for you,rnbesides entertain you, is to teach yournwhat you are—and then sometimes,rnsomething that is just as important: whatrnyou are not.rnNow please do not get the idea that Irnam against foreign travel, or foreign exchangernstudents, or foreign languages.rnQuite the contrary. But I am very muchrnagainst the notions that the real world isrnalways somewhere else, anywhere butrnhere; and that we should be passive consumersrn—I hate that word; it implies wernare nothing but belly—rather than individuals,rncitizens, human beings.rnLet me end with a few lines fromrna great Tennesseean—born in Pulaski,rneducated at Vanderbilt—named JohnrnCrowe Ransom. This is the openingrnparagraph in a book of essays you shouldrnbe reading and arguing about in yourrncombined American History/AmericanrnLiterature class, a great book, and a bookrnthat in parts will probably make you veryrnangry; a book called I’ll Take My Stand:rnIt is out of fashion in these days tornlook backward rather than forward.rnAbout the only American given tornit is some unreconstructed Southerner,rnwho persists in his regard forrna certain terrain, a certain history,rnand a certain inherited way of living.rnHe is punished as his crimerndeserves. He feels himself in thernAmerican scene as an anachronism,rnand knows he is felt by hisrnneighbors to be a reproach.rnMy friends, may you always be a reproachrnto your neighbors.rnKatherine Dalton writes from HenryrnCounty, Kentucky.rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn