Feminism, the Body, and the Machine

I came across this great arti­cle by Wen­dell Berry on Arts and Let­ters Dai­ly. I find it to be a chal­leng­ing and suc­cinct analy­sis of life as a part of the mod­ern indus­tri­al com­plex. It spoke to me in some ways that I rec­og­nized as coin­cid­ing with my own beliefs, but also impulsed me to exam­ine the ways in which I have bought into tech­no­log­i­cal mass con­sump­tion, and have rebelled against it. I will most like­ly mas­ti­cate on this for quite some time, and hope­ful­ly dis­cov­er­ies will abound. Here is an excerpt:

The sta­tis­tics of life expectan­cy are favorites of the indus­tri­al apol­o­gists, because they are per­haps the hard­est to argue with. Nev­er­the­less, this empha­sis on longevi­ty is an excel­lent exam­ple of the way the iso­lat­ed aims of the indus­tri­al mind reduce and dis­tort human life, and also the way sta­tis­tics cor­rupt the truth. A long life has indeed always been thought desir­able; every­thing that is alive appar­ent­ly wish­es to con­tin­ue to live. But until our own time, that sen­tence would have been qual­i­fied: long life is desir­able and every­thing wish­es to live up to a point. Past a cer­tain point, and in cer­tain con­di­tions, death becomes prefer­able to life. More­over, it was gen­er­al­ly agreed that a good life was prefer­able to one that was mere­ly long, and that the good­ness of a life could not be deter­mined by its length. The sta­tis­ti­cians of longevi­ty ignore good in both its sens­es; they do not ask if the pro­longed life is vir­tu­ous, or if it is sat­is­fac­to­ry. If the life is that of a vicious crim­i­nal, or if it is inched out in a ver­i­ta­ble hell of cap­tiv­i­ty with­in the med­ical indus­try, no matter?both become sta­tis­tics to ?prove? the good luck of liv­ing in our time.

3 Replies

  • gave me the impulse’ was my ini­tial reac­tion, but that sounds bor­ing. while impulse is pret­ty much a noun, it is still a noun that is also a sort of men­tal verb. so why not use it?

  • thanks, this is a good read — i’m about hal­way through it and will read more lat­er. so far it seems to real­ly sum up a num­ber of prob­lems relat­ed to fem­i­nism (or some of its branch­es) and cor­po­rate cul­ture.

  • You know, using “impulse” as a verb has been obso­lete for quite some time now. Of course it’d take Har­vey-grade chutz­pah to breathe new life into it. By the way: maybe give Berry’s poet­ry a chance, too.

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