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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. '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. '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. 4 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

    Bloodorange

    Worth reading, even if only to see how a paradigm can be questioned, how it was questioned, or to entertain the idea of questioning it. If you are already solving your problem with the equipment you have - a pencil, say - why solve it with something more expensive and more damaging? If you don't have a problem, why pay for a solution? If you love the freedom and elegance of simple tools, why encumber yourself with something complicated?(Odd fact: I have recently heard a YouTuber saying they teac Worth reading, even if only to see how a paradigm can be questioned, how it was questioned, or to entertain the idea of questioning it. If you are already solving your problem with the equipment you have - a pencil, say - why solve it with something more expensive and more damaging? If you don't have a problem, why pay for a solution? If you love the freedom and elegance of simple tools, why encumber yourself with something complicated?(Odd fact: I have recently heard a YouTuber saying they teach their children to read the newspapers, instead of the Internet, for news.)

  3. 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 arguments on the way techn 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.

  4. 5 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 believe, but the questions rai 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.

  5. 4 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.

  6. 5 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.

  7. 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 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.'

  8. 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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Octavia Chandler

    I originally wrote this review by hand, putting pen to paper in a notebook furthest from my laptop as I can get in my apartment. I did so because this book really frightened me, which, funnily enough was quite the opposite effect of what I had initially predicted my reaction to be as I had begun reading it to justify trading my iPhone for a flip phone. This book instead frightened me due to the fact that almost every point it made, while arguably rebuttable, resonated deeply with my secret fear I originally wrote this review by hand, putting pen to paper in a notebook furthest from my laptop as I can get in my apartment. I did so because this book really frightened me, which, funnily enough was quite the opposite effect of what I had initially predicted my reaction to be as I had begun reading it to justify trading my iPhone for a flip phone. This book instead frightened me due to the fact that almost every point it made, while arguably rebuttable, resonated deeply with my secret fear that technology and "progress" is, in fact, killing us. Killing us not in the literal sense, as Berry rightly highlights that technology has accelerated the pursuit of increased life expectancy greatly, but killing us in a more humanist sense through its intensification of what can be described as our attempt to circumvent our own bodies, trading them over for machinery we see better fit for extending and expressing the supposed computation of our minds. It is in this way we have traded a "good" life, for a long life. I am not entirely sure what can be done with this information. Ideally, one could intend to drop all dependence on technology with great immediacy in order to reclaim one's connection between the mind and the body, and to resist the progress liable for much, if not all, of the degradation of our land in pursuit of our flags (a paradox most interestingly pointed out by Berry). However, to what I am sure is much to Berry's regret, since the publication of this book in 1989, technological progress has spread with such speed and unboundedness that it is somewhat unthinkable, if not impossible, to entirely commit to opting-out. These days I not only use my computer to write, but furthermore to connect with friends and family, to attend my University classes, and to carry out any work I can get during a global pandemic. To some, this seems like an argument against Berry's, nonetheless I believe it is instead highly demonstrative of his work. Ask any one of my friends and we will tell you we have never felt more alienated from ourselves, and from our bodies. I feel it would be much more natural to be relinquished of all such responsibilities during this period, rather than delve deeper into a technological dependence that I, for one, fear we will be unable to reverse. Then again, perhaps I am being too quixotic. I just can't seem to shake this idea of understanding technology by its net effect, rather than merely its positives. The fact that we very rarely connect the speed and "ease" of living technology has brought us with the spoilage of our planet in any meaningful way is distressing. And I liked what Berry had to say about how while our individual abuses of the world are rather insignificant, undeniably they do "contribute to a general abuse that is devastating." I like being reminded of this as it's fairly easy these days to wash our hands of any individual responsibility because "corporations bad." Like, yes, corporations are incomparably worse than individuals, but why not practice what you preach where you have the opportunity to do so? I recommend reading this book after dropping your iPhone into the toilet and consequently being forced to buy a Nokia in order to be able to Whatsapp your family who will not allow you to completely drop off the face of this digital earth.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Karolina Zych

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

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vienna

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

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris J

    I read this short book at my wife's request. If I am going to adhere to my standard that a 5-star rating means I believe everyone should read that book then this is a 5-star. Regarding the book: the title essay is only five pages long. It is followed by five or so letters (highly critical) written in response to Berry's essay, which was published in Harper's. The next few pages contain his retort to those letters. The remainder of the book (and the lion's share) is another essay of Berry's that I read this short book at my wife's request. If I am going to adhere to my standard that a 5-star rating means I believe everyone should read that book then this is a 5-star. Regarding the book: the title essay is only five pages long. It is followed by five or so letters (highly critical) written in response to Berry's essay, which was published in Harper's. The next few pages contain his retort to those letters. The remainder of the book (and the lion's share) is another essay of Berry's that relates the themes he addresses in the first essay - a call for prudent, wise, wary and cautious attitudes toward technological adoption. You don't have to agree with Berry on his views toward the computer or computer ownership to appreciate this book. But, I do believe it to be important that we, like Berry, be even a little thoughtful about our adoption of technologies of all kind. I am thankful that there is a strong, logic-fueled voice that resists the "if we can do it we obviously should mentality" driving our society.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I had heard some great things about this and the title had me super interested about it. So when I finally got around to it I was surprised because i actually liked this one. Although I didn't agree with all the points that Wendell Berry makes, I did connect to his writing style. I would therefore really like to read more from him in the future as I know that he is an environmentalist so would like to see his opinions. I had heard some great things about this and the title had me super interested about it. So when I finally got around to it I was surprised because i actually liked this one. Although I didn't agree with all the points that Wendell Berry makes, I did connect to his writing style. I would therefore really like to read more from him in the future as I know that he is an environmentalist so would like to see his opinions.

  14. 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. 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.

  15. 5 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.’ 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.’

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kristīne

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

  17. 5 out of 5

    A

    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!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Olivera

    Magnificent. If only more people thought like this man.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kira

    3.5 stars* I agree with the ideology, not so much the practicality lol

  20. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    Not all (technological) progress is good or for the benefit of humankind. "Do I wish to keep up with the times? No. My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can." Not all (technological) progress is good or for the benefit of humankind. "Do I wish to keep up with the times? No. My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can."

  21. 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. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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 published here remind one a lot of the internet comment se 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.

  24. 4 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Fantastic! It was written in 1987/89 but it’s already talking about ecological issues. Why didn’t we listen then, when we knew?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Terese

    I really enjoyed these two op-eds by Wendell Berry, they are probably, by now, fairly easy to dismiss as "quaint" (whether you want one or not is not really a matter of choice anymore), but I think Berry raised valuable and interesting points. Especially regarding how the computer didn't seem to him as something that would enable better political cooperation and communication... you could say that again. Though it makes me something of a troglodyte, I do also lament the decreased ability of writi I really enjoyed these two op-eds by Wendell Berry, they are probably, by now, fairly easy to dismiss as "quaint" (whether you want one or not is not really a matter of choice anymore), but I think Berry raised valuable and interesting points. Especially regarding how the computer didn't seem to him as something that would enable better political cooperation and communication... you could say that again. Though it makes me something of a troglodyte, I do also lament the decreased ability of writing by hand that I see around me (nevermind the bitterness that I spent hours at school slaving a way a learning to write cursive and now no one under the age of thirty appears able to read bleepin' cursive), but I must also admit that I often prefer writing by computer, so even if I see his point I still don't live according to it. All in all, glad I read this. Though, I bought a whole collection of these short stories and because, most plausibly ;) , in a previous life I was part of a semitic language culture because my natural habit is to go from right to left when I pick up a book, notebook, magazine, you name it. So in this box set I naturally started from the right, only to realize that this book was labeled nr. 50 of 50. I suspect there is a purpose to the numbering, possibly going by dates of publication (?), so next up I'll go against my instincts and read number 1-49 in that order.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linton

    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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    alfred

    For a morning read, this was short, thought provoking and engaging. It raised some questions about marriage / partnership and the ‘social economy’ that I have not considered before, and tuned my eye to that of a conservationist in the age of technological enhancement...shit, this was written in 1987/9? I wonder what the author thinks of the world today. I love this: “Finally, it seems to me that none of my correspondents recognizes the innovativeness of my essay. If the use of a computer is a new For a morning read, this was short, thought provoking and engaging. It raised some questions about marriage / partnership and the ‘social economy’ that I have not considered before, and tuned my eye to that of a conservationist in the age of technological enhancement...shit, this was written in 1987/9? I wonder what the author thinks of the world today. I love this: “Finally, it seems to me that none of my correspondents recognizes the innovativeness of my essay. If the use of a computer is a new idea, then a newer idea is not to use one.” Also a generous nod at the end to embodied learning, how the body ‘characterises’ everything it touches. Awesome.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    3 stars

  30. 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. But t 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.

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