Wendell Berry’s Thoughts in the Presence of Fear

In the days following September 11, 2001, Kentucky author and farmer Wendell Berry wrote Thoughts in the Presence of Fear. With rural Kentucky as a backdrop, Herb E. Smith put Wendell’s words to film, adding an interview on the relevancy of his essay, years later.

“What you hope for is that these things you write out of fear of the way things are, you’d hope they become obsolete. The things I’ve written when I was most scared have stayed current.” – Wendell Berry

Besides an annual KET – Kentucky Educational Television airing, Appalshop is releasing this publicly for the first time today, September 11, 2017.


Kentucky for Kentucky, a small band of believers, promoters and producers for the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, said of the release “newly public film illuminates Wendell Berry’s vital essay in the aftermath of 9/11.”

“In the now-famous essay, Berry also reiterated his lifelong warnings against centralized economies, specialized “educations”, thoughtless political rhetoric, environmental disrespect, waste, and scapegoating of minorities.

Years later, filmmaker Herb E. Smith of Appalshop–the groundbreaking media, arts, and education center in Whitesburg, Ky.–juxtaposed Berry’s words with scenes of rural Kentucky and clips from an in-depth interview about the process of writing in response to crisis and the essay’s continued relevancy.”