“Studying the South, you have to say we're all part of it and we all are connected,” Ferris says. “It's what Balzac called ‘La Comédie Humaine,’ the human comedy. Faulkner created this Yoknapatawpha County world in which black and white, and old and young, and men and women, they are all in there. And that's how I saw the folklore vision and what I tried to do. You interview everybody, and they're all connected.”
Not only has he unearthed thousands of figurative connections but also hundreds of literal ones that stitch the quilt of Southern culture together.
“You know, Ray Lum the mule trader was connected to Willie Dixon, the blues composer — taught him to ride horses. They knew each other.”
The late mule trader once told Ferris, “You live and learn and then you die and forget it all.” It’s a funny bit of folk wisdom, but Ferris clearly has not lived by it. In his view, what Southerners live and learn should be recorded.