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Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer

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'Do I wish to keep up with the times? No. My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can' The great American poet, novelist and environmental activist argues for a life lived slowly.


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'Do I wish to keep up with the times? No. My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can' The great American poet, novelist and environmental activist argues for a life lived slowly.

30 review for Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    I had no idea what to expect here. I just thought the title sounded intriguing. And then lo and behold.. I possibly have a new favourite author??!! The ideas presented here are fascinating, they made me reconsider all sorts of things, and were done with such clarity and peace. I LOVED IT AND I ORDERED ANOTHER BOOK BY HIM IMMEDIATELY.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Kotsarinis

    I found out about this short book (an essay rather) from a fellow bookstagrammer and it seemed intriguing. The texts are now 30 years old and one has to take that into account when it comes to criticising technology. I can't say I agree with all the arguments and the overall line of thought but that's exactly what essays are about, to promote thinking, arguments and discussion. Some of the thoughts in the essay have indeed become very relevant in the next decades and the ar I found out about this short book (an essay rather) from a fellow bookstagrammer and it seemed intriguing. The texts are now 30 years old and one has to take that into account when it comes to criticising technology. I can't say I agree with all the arguments and the overall line of thought but that's exactly what essays are about, to promote thinking, arguments and discussion. Some of the thoughts in the essay have indeed become very relevant in the next decades and the arguments on the way technological progress doesn't actually promote the well-being of society offer plenty of food for thought and it would be foolish just to brush them aside and not think critically about the direction society is going.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Adeeb

    How refreshing is it to read a book that critically discusses things from both sides of the argument, and in essay format? I hadn't known about this author or this new collection of books, but then Ariel Bissett on her Instagram posted it and I was so intrigued. And this is probably one of the best books that I've read this year. With less than 50 pages, the book raises so many questions and arguments that cultivate deep thought. This book was written in late 1980s I believ How refreshing is it to read a book that critically discusses things from both sides of the argument, and in essay format? I hadn't known about this author or this new collection of books, but then Ariel Bissett on her Instagram posted it and I was so intrigued. And this is probably one of the best books that I've read this year. With less than 50 pages, the book raises so many questions and arguments that cultivate deep thought. This book was written in late 1980s I believe, but the questions raised remain just as relevant today, perhaps even more. If I had to give you an overview about what this book talks about, picture this: Did you ever feel overwhelmed by social media? Did you ever feel so much noise, and felt like quality of content has gone down? Did you, more than ever before need to go on a digital detox? If you answered yes to one or all of those, then you must read it. If not, you still have to read it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    This book kind of read like an internet comment fight between some strangers, which is a shame because the author makes some valid points.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karolina Zych

    the topic was very interesting but the way of explaining his opinion was weird.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

    The fiftieth, and final, Penguin Modern is Wendell Berry's Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer, which features two essays. The title essay was published for the first time in Harper's magazine in 1987, and the second - 'Feminism, the Body and the Machine', which provides a reflection upon it - in 1990. In the first essay, as is evident in its title, Berry argues his case for writing 'in the day time, without electric light', and with only paper and a pencil. He says, of his decision: 'I do not see that computer The fiftieth, and final, Penguin Modern is Wendell Berry's Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer, which features two essays. The title essay was published for the first time in Harper's magazine in 1987, and the second - 'Feminism, the Body and the Machine', which provides a reflection upon it - in 1990. In the first essay, as is evident in its title, Berry argues his case for writing 'in the day time, without electric light', and with only paper and a pencil. He says, of his decision: 'I do not see that computers are bringing us one step nearer to anything that does matter to me: peace, economic justice, ecological health, political honesty, family and community stability, good work.' He also points out that he very much enjoys the collaborative experience which he shares with his wife, who types up his work on a Royal Standard typewriter: 'Thus (and I think this is typical of present-day technological innovation), what would be superseded would be not only something, but somebody. In order to be technologically up-to-date as a writer, I would have to sacrifice an association that I am dependent upon and that I treasure.' This first essay ends with a transcription of several responses received after its publication, and Berry's quite witty response. In the second, and more extended response essay, Berry writes in a measured way of those who chose to send letters to him, and the overriding view that he was both exploiting and oppressing his wife by getting her to type his work. Here, he reflects: 'That feminists or any other advocates of human liberty and dignity should resort to insult and injustice is regrettable. It is also regrettable that all of the feminist attacks on my essay implicitly deny the validity of two decent and probably necessary possibilities: marriage as a state of mutual help, and the household as an economy.' I found this short collection easy to read, and found that Berry argues his various points succinctly, although perhaps a little briefly at times, throughout. His reasoning, in some ways, feels quite ahead of its time. He touches upon many themes here, from materialism and relationships to technology and values. Berry's essays have such a nice message at their heart: 'My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can. In both our work and our leisure, I think, we should be so employed. And in our time this means that we must save ourselves from the products that we are asked to buy in order, ultimately, to replace ourselves.'

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nathalie

    I could be persuaded to go up to a 2.5 stars. The ideas presented were interesting, and certainly well worth some more thought. But 1. I do not agree with most of them (however important they might be for a broad, wide sided look and discussion on the issue) and 2. I could not stand the tone of this. Berry seemed very self-righteous. He criticised his critics that they could not accept a single argument to be brought against their issue, and then proceeded to minutely lay down every arguments th I could be persuaded to go up to a 2.5 stars. The ideas presented were interesting, and certainly well worth some more thought. But 1. I do not agree with most of them (however important they might be for a broad, wide sided look and discussion on the issue) and 2. I could not stand the tone of this. Berry seemed very self-righteous. He criticised his critics that they could not accept a single argument to be brought against their issue, and then proceeded to minutely lay down every arguments they brought against his issue. He critised their tone, and proceeded to sound very sarcastic and full of himself. I might have been okay with his first essay, and his answer to some critics, but the second essay was too much for me. Again, the discussion in his (even though it's fairly dated now) is an important one to have. But I think I would hate to discuss it with someone who talks the way Berry does, seemingly always looking down on everyone who does not share his opinions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vienna

    *4.5 stars. Really makes you think and glad I picked it up (Thanks to Ariel Bissett, haha)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristīne

    "If the use of a computer is a new idea, then a newer idea is not to use one."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elena Manole

    an essay written 30 years ago that is much more relevant today; even though I didn't agree with every point he made, it was still a very interesting and thought-provoking read. We are going to have to learn to give up things that we have learned (in only a few years, after all) to ‘need.’

  11. 4 out of 5

    Olivera

    Magnificent. If only more people thought like this man.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Annika

    Everyone GO READ THIS: it is fucking amazing and you need this in your life. Pay that damn euro/pound/dollar and get yourself a copy!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kritika Narula

    Our dependence on capitalism is its only recommendation of itself. I absolutely loved the book, and how it was compiled into a series of replies which brought all opposing views. At a subtler level, it was also a snide remark on how conversations happen today, and how it isn't different from a pre-google era.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Heike

    His claim is simple: do we need a solution to a problem we do not have: no! Very well formulated, with lots of food for thoughts – everyone should read it!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dominik

    Pros: - It will lead to interesting discussions if you read it in a group or a classroom setting. - It is a document of its time. Cons: - As far as arguments go, there is not much logical structure to the text, it's self indulgent style over substance and gut feeling over arguments in most cases. Neutral: It's interesting to ponder how Berry would have coped as a blogger. He received 20 letters after publishing this. Yet those letters who are publ Pros: - It will lead to interesting discussions if you read it in a group or a classroom setting. - It is a document of its time. Cons: - As far as arguments go, there is not much logical structure to the text, it's self indulgent style over substance and gut feeling over arguments in most cases. Neutral: It's interesting to ponder how Berry would have coped as a blogger. He received 20 letters after publishing this. Yet those letters who are published here remind one a lot of the internet comment sections we know today. I was more angry at the text than I expected and not because I was opposed to the opinions stated in Berry's text or the reactions it caused but in the way the discourse was handled on both sides.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Linton Newton

    A very cheap, short couple of essays which over many topics but largely focuses upon titiular justification. While the main topic is of interest, it is the other topics and in particular the one of industrialisation which I was most interested in. The page or so in which he comments on the educational system of the time (1989) is marvellous -- though of course also depressing considering how much worse the system is now. It is this industrial attitude which has changed the modern world the most A very cheap, short couple of essays which over many topics but largely focuses upon titiular justification. While the main topic is of interest, it is the other topics and in particular the one of industrialisation which I was most interested in. The page or so in which he comments on the educational system of the time (1989) is marvellous -- though of course also depressing considering how much worse the system is now. It is this industrial attitude which has changed the modern world the most significantly from the time of this essay, and as such this writing is of the largest significance. Another point of interest is in the topic of modern feminism. Berry raises this issue in response to criticism in relation to his wife, who some claim to be lacking emancipation from the traditional family routine. Berry argues in opposition to these so-called feminists by claiming that they lack understanding of the full situation and in most situations a woman is emancipated. Though rather than leaving it at this he develops this and calls into question what this emancipation means when we live in an economically deprived system, such as the current capitalist system. The minute fight between genders which attracts so much attention and political activity would be much better spent opposing the system we live in. In this I believe Berry set out his critique of modern feminist issues perfectly and succinctly. There are larger issues which are relevant to the modern time and the opposition of capitalism is far more important than some form of gender equality. What would be the point in equality if the majority are oppresse regardless? For true emancipation the true contradiction must be opposed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Sometimes a text is more important for what it does to your mind than how it is executed. Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer is far from a perfect book: Berry criticises his critics for having "more feeling than intelligen[ce]", but bases many arguments of his own on feeling and tries to sell them off as intelligence. He flirts with Marx but fails to mention him. He makes some tenuous connections between his arguments which look good at first sight but wither when you inspect them closely. />Why Sometimes a text is more important for what it does to your mind than how it is executed. Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer is far from a perfect book: Berry criticises his critics for having "more feeling than intelligen[ce]", but bases many arguments of his own on feeling and tries to sell them off as intelligence. He flirts with Marx but fails to mention him. He makes some tenuous connections between his arguments which look good at first sight but wither when you inspect them closely. But then again, this little book consists of two essays, and essays are by nature personal and argumentative. That's why it doesn't really matter if Berry is correct or incorrect. What matters is that technology is a part of literally everyone's life on earth right now - whether you have direct access to it or not, technology has changed everything, thoroughly. What Berry indirectly does in these texts is implore you to look at the sense and nonsense of technology, and I think this is a message that 30 years after publication is not outdated at all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James

    The first segment of this essay (read: 10 or so pages) starts us out with the well-founded idea that perhaps a computer is not necessary for a full life, painted against an (under-explained) concern for environmentalism and a clear fondness for slow and considered ways of life that I genuinely felt some connection to. This is then immediately followed by a self-aggrandising diatribe of which the bulk is devoted to explaining that the fact that his wife types out his work for him isn't oppressive The first segment of this essay (read: 10 or so pages) starts us out with the well-founded idea that perhaps a computer is not necessary for a full life, painted against an (under-explained) concern for environmentalism and a clear fondness for slow and considered ways of life that I genuinely felt some connection to. This is then immediately followed by a self-aggrandising diatribe of which the bulk is devoted to explaining that the fact that his wife types out his work for him isn't oppressive in any way, and that all people who sent in letters contrary to his original point are imbeciles. Mixed bag.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Macaskill

    A great short read, with lots of meat in it to get your teeth into. I particularly enjoyed the second section of the book in which Berry goes into much more detail behind his thinking and reasoning for not buying a computer. I won't be getting rid of my laptop and smartphone just yet, but reading this has definitely given me a new perspective on why I might be using the technology I use; for good, or bad? And what is that good and bad while we're at it? Lots of food for thought!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Iris Bratton

    3.5/5 STARS An interesting perspective on technology and its consequences. What an interesting view Wendell Berry has. I've always feared technology but really never thought of why. I guess I've never really weighed the options when it came to using it. Being raised in a culture where it's normal, I've never really thought about how it affects us as parents, as a society and as evolving human beings. Now Berry isn't completely against the idea of technology but he's more wary of the b 3.5/5 STARS An interesting perspective on technology and its consequences. What an interesting view Wendell Berry has. I've always feared technology but really never thought of why. I guess I've never really weighed the options when it came to using it. Being raised in a culture where it's normal, I've never really thought about how it affects us as parents, as a society and as evolving human beings. Now Berry isn't completely against the idea of technology but he's more wary of the brainwashing consumerism and centralization that comes with it. He makes very valid points as to why he personally doesn't have a computer and promts the reader to consider and respect his idea. I do respect it, but I don't agree with everything. And that is okay. His writing definitely makes me more conscious of my use of technology and think more about necessity rather than convenience. The emphasis here is that we're all guilty of misuse of technological advancements, and although it feels inevitable to embrace it, it's the freedom and the power to say no that makes man greater than machine. This was a very thought-provoking read. I highly recommend!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    Before reading this short collection of two of Berry's essays, I've never heard of him before. I saw this book on Ariel Bissett's YouTube channel and I was very intrigued (and not only by the beautiful cover design ;)). I really enjoyed reading his opinions on technology and how we as humans are evolving with it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zaabakar

    A more thought-provoking read than I expected and I had to slow my reading speed significantly to absorb the arguments. A well-argued essay (and response to its feedback) not just on computers and why he prefers not to use one but also on technological progress, feminism, and the environment. I'd only vaguely heard of Berry but in these past two weeks, I've heard his name and books mentioned at least three times. If the TBR pile is reduced, perhaps I will pick up his novel Hannah Coul A more thought-provoking read than I expected and I had to slow my reading speed significantly to absorb the arguments. A well-argued essay (and response to its feedback) not just on computers and why he prefers not to use one but also on technological progress, feminism, and the environment. I'd only vaguely heard of Berry but in these past two weeks, I've heard his name and books mentioned at least three times. If the TBR pile is reduced, perhaps I will pick up his novel Hannah Coulter.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrada-maria Havasi

    I picked it up because a booktuber recommended it and the title was intriguing. The essays are thought-provoking and Berry definitely has some interesting point of vies regarding technology. Yes, we consume a lot. Too much for our own good. However I completely disagree that every new invention is bad. I totally support the idea of clean resources, but I am disappointed that he believes that only he is right. And he's clearly not. Firstly, his essay made me feel less becaus I picked it up because a booktuber recommended it and the title was intriguing. The essays are thought-provoking and Berry definitely has some interesting point of vies regarding technology. Yes, we consume a lot. Too much for our own good. However I completely disagree that every new invention is bad. I totally support the idea of clean resources, but I am disappointed that he believes that only he is right. And he's clearly not. Firstly, his essay made me feel less because I am not like him. I don't want to be a farmer or a writer. I like to draw. Digital art, for example, is very appreciated and asked for right now. But according to him, I shouldn't acquire a graphic tablet and use a computer to create art and make money and a living by doing the things I love. (I am not currently a full-time artist, but I'm struggling to become one). Because it is not right. I am destroying the planet. It is absurd and selfish to dismiss the hobbies, passions, and interests of others just because you think you're the one who's right. Nobody is ever entirely right. I am amazed that he never thought of those people who are paralyzed, and can't move, and the only thing they can do is watch TV when they are alone, or listen to music. What about them? They can't write and definitely not farm. But they still have to live somehow and there are still things that they can enjoy doing. Should we judge them like Berry judges the people that choose to have other lifestyles? I won't. I like TV and I like my computer and my graphic tablet and the fact that whenever I need some reference or information I can use the internet, instead of rushing to the library or in nature or call friends that do not have time to pose for my drawings, for example. I have a job, I have a home, and a fiancee. I have/want to dedicate each of these my time. So if technological progress is here to give me a hand to be able to spend time on all of these, then I cannot agree with Wendell Berry. If he believes he can live his life without technology, fine. That's his choice and his problem. But he shouldn't pass judgement on other people that do not embrace his lifestyle. And it is his fault that so many have criticized him. His first essay was incomplete. Like he didn't consider other people when he wrote his essay, people didn't consider his wife when they responded. He never made clear the fact that his wife is kind enough to want to spend time typing his work. He said he doesn't need a computer cause he has a wife.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I did spend sometime thinking about what the purpose of this text was but overall I found the execution overplayed and the arguments made by the author both tenuous and red herrings. Berry's initial essay is poorly written and the argument about not needing a solution to something that is not really a problem is interesting but they way he executes it is condescending. Then as a follow up Berry criticizes his critics for having "more feeling than intelligen[ce]" in direct hypocrisy of his m I did spend sometime thinking about what the purpose of this text was but overall I found the execution overplayed and the arguments made by the author both tenuous and red herrings. Berry's initial essay is poorly written and the argument about not needing a solution to something that is not really a problem is interesting but they way he executes it is condescending. Then as a follow up Berry criticizes his critics for having "more feeling than intelligen[ce]" in direct hypocrisy of his many arguments based on his own feelings that he tries to pass off as intellectual (red herring). The biggest problem with Berry's arguments is that his first essay is so flippant and insulting, acting like anyone who chooses to make a different choice than the author is a dupiable polluter and making statements that imply that everyone else should have a helper in a way that is stereotypically gendered and then being surprised (and offended) that the response was negative is just naive. The response is so rambling and illogical, basing most of the arguments on facts that the readers didn't take into account, facts that they couldn't possibly have known, and personal and vicious attacks on readers as anti-feminist, illogical, and participating in bad faith, it gas-lights both the reader and the critics. Berry tries to fight the critics who respond badly to his comments about his wife by saying the critics have missed the depth of his relationship with her and her motives when he is the one who characterized her in his first piece in a way that parallels a long history of the hidden work of female support of "genus" men (ahem Einstein). Berry would have done better to provide the context to his own piece and write more about his own personal experience and logic rather than generalizing and attacking other people for not understanding his bad writing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Not sure what I made of this (very) short read. He definitely had some valid points to argue, and I agreed with most. When I first bought this book I wasn't sure what I was getting into but I'm glad I've read it.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katrin

    I hate read this one. Yes, it is thought provoking. Yes, there are some very important bits and pieces in here. But, hell, do I disagree with most of it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    I really enjoyed this short read. This work was very thought-provoking and fantastically well-written. It made me feel comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. In 50 pages, Wendell began to tell me what he thinks, but I felt like the book was challenging me to ask myself what I thought. As such, I think this is a fantastic introduction to critical thinking on a number of topical issues and I particularly appreciated the perspective of the individual, and the role that the singular person I really enjoyed this short read. This work was very thought-provoking and fantastically well-written. It made me feel comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time. In 50 pages, Wendell began to tell me what he thinks, but I felt like the book was challenging me to ask myself what I thought. As such, I think this is a fantastic introduction to critical thinking on a number of topical issues and I particularly appreciated the perspective of the individual, and the role that the singular person plays is these topics, no matter how unconsciously. Captivating.

  28. 4 out of 5

    T P Kennedy

    I can't disagree with the central thesis but there's noting very new here. The framing of a brief article followed by taking issue with letters written in response to it is irritating. This series is fantastic in terms of sampling unfamiliar authors but this is one sample I disliked.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michael Mills

    I agree with Berry when it comes to his ideas about marriage, but found his take on technology incredibly frustrating. To take the good first. He’s right that there’s a certain mode of right-on-ness that seeks to reduce feminism and gender politics to sticky labels, convenient to slap on anyone and anything that vaguely resembles something that was once objectionable. It’s moral superiority by checklist, the illusion of thought. But his views on technology are wilfully blind. Of course change do I agree with Berry when it comes to his ideas about marriage, but found his take on technology incredibly frustrating. To take the good first. He’s right that there’s a certain mode of right-on-ness that seeks to reduce feminism and gender politics to sticky labels, convenient to slap on anyone and anything that vaguely resembles something that was once objectionable. It’s moral superiority by checklist, the illusion of thought. But his views on technology are wilfully blind. Of course change does not always mean improvement, and undoubtedly advances in technology have created problems. But Berry’s view is ignorant by choice, he asserts and does not question. Technology is equivalent to consumption and not a thought is given to anyone outside the comfortable developed world. Rich CEOs can live longer and in iller health, boo! Overlooking the fact that the latter part is not so very true as you might imagine, what about the child from a poor family who no longer has to put up with preventable blindness? Or those in remote communities with access to resources and education they’d never have encountered before? What about the clean energy solutions that’ll (hopefully) do away with the strip mining he so hates? What about the glasses on my face or the hearing aid in my grandmother’s ear? What about the exposure of war crimes, or the dissemination of knowledge? Berry doesn’t answer any of these questions. While he is keen to call out what he sees as everybody else’s corporate-decreed mania for consumption, he’s blind to his own 19th century ruralist dogma. It wasn’t a surprise when he started quoting Thoreau.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Franky

    I think that there are definite nuggets of philosophical wisdom and truisms contained within Wendell Berry’s essays contained here. This, despite the fact that this was written over thirty years ago. Wendell discusses elements of technological “progress” and his ideas about a more simplistic system of living. However, the means by which the author arrives at his points and, more specifically, the tone and manner of the main crux of arguments is a little off putting. He spends a good deal of time I think that there are definite nuggets of philosophical wisdom and truisms contained within Wendell Berry’s essays contained here. This, despite the fact that this was written over thirty years ago. Wendell discusses elements of technological “progress” and his ideas about a more simplistic system of living. However, the means by which the author arrives at his points and, more specifically, the tone and manner of the main crux of arguments is a little off putting. He spends a good deal of time addressing his critics, and does have some valid assertions about writing, the process of it, technology, and the individual, but at points the writing becomes too preachy and takes on a self-righteous tone aimed at those critics. At points, he goes a little too much “on a tangent” and this detracts from the message he is trying to convey. Nevertheless, there are some interesting points offered here and some enlightening quotes from Berry, especially about the art of writing and living more simplistically: “The act of writing language down is not so insistently tangible an act as the act of building a house or playing the violin. But to the extent that is tangible, I love the tangibility of it.” “If you don’t have a problem, why pay for a solution? If you love freedom and elegance of simple tools, why encumber yourself with something complicated?” Interesting, and definitely a cerebral type of read here, but I I liked reading Berry’s Andy Catlett: Early Travels much more.

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