Dirt is Not Soil

Joshua West Smith I live in a strange part of the country that provides countless example of how the planet manufactures dirt with water and wind, how it exists as a thing in our language that is easily dismissed. But dirt here manifests as more, as an acknowledgment of scale. Dirt here lives out in the open, it occupies broad swaths of land, maybe all the land. Dirt is not soil. Soil is the...

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Dirty Feet

Richard Speer Feet are a good place for dirt. In the rural American South where I spent my first six years, the signs on store doors warning “No shoes, no shirt, no service” weren’t for show. They were there to stop people from traipsing inside bare-chested and barefoot, tracking in that odious harbinger of physical and metaphysical desecration: dirt. The South’s ambivalence toward feet and dirt is more pronounced than in the North, with...

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