Feminism, the Body, and the Machine

Monday, 28 July 2003

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.