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Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Livesby Nicols Fox
Synopses & Reviews
From the cars we drive to the instant messages we receive, from debate about genetically modified foods to astonishing strides in cloning, robotics, and nanotechnology, it would be hard to deny technology's powerful grip on our lives. To stop and ask whether this digitized, implanted reality is quite what we had in mind when we opted for progress, or to ask if we might not be creating more problems than we solve, is likely to peg us as hopelessly backward or suspiciously eccentric. Yet not only questioning, but challenging technology turns out to have a long and noble history.
In this timely and incisive work, Nicols Fox examines contemporary resistance to technology and places it in a surprising historical context. She brilliantly illuminates the rich but oftentimes unrecognized literary and philosophical tradition that has existed for nearly two centuries, since the first Ludditesthe "machine breaking" followers of the mythical Ned Luddlifted their sledgehammers in protest against the Industrial Revolution. Tracing that current of thought through some of the great minds of the 19th and 20th centuriesWilliam Blake, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Graves, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and many othersFox demonstrates that modern protests against consumptive lifestyles and misgivings about the relentless march of mechanization are part of a fascinating hidden history. She shows as well that the Luddite tradition can yield important insights into how we might reshape both technology and modern life so that human, community, and environmental values take precedence over the demands of the machine.
In Against the Machine, Nicols Fox writes with compelling immediacybringing a new dimension and depth to the debate over what technology means, both now and for our future.
Book News Annotation:
Journalist Fox points out that when the followers of Ned Ludd took arms against mechanical weaving machines in 1811, it was not technology they fought against, but the use of that technology to destroy their lives and communities. They did not invent the notion, she says, and it did not die when the military dispersed its champions. She finds it, hidden and disguised as Luddites must be, in high and low places of Anglophone culture.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this work, Nicols Fox examines contemporary resistance to technology and places it in a surprising historical context. She demonstrates that modern protests against consumptive lifestyles and misgivings about the relentless march of mechanization are part of a fascinating hidden history.
In this timely and incisive work, Fox examines contemporary resistance to technology and places it in a surprising historical context. She brilliantly illuminates the rich but oftentimes unrecognized literary and philosophical tradition that has existed for nearly two centuries, since the first Luddites--the "machine-breaking" followers of the mythical Ned Ludd--lifted their sledgehammers in protest against the Industrial Revolution.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 367-388) and index.
About the Author
Nicols Fox, an independent journalist for more than 20 years, has written on subjects ranging from emerging pathogens to the nature of laughter. She is the author of "Spoiled: Why Our Food is Making Us Sick" (BasicBooks, 1997) and "It Was Probably Something You Ate" (Penguin, 1999). She has appeared on numerous television programs, has written regularly for The Economist, and her articles, essays, and book reviews have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and USA Today.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. The Kellams and Their Island
Chapter 2. The Frame Breakers
Chapter 3. Romantic Inclinations
Chapter 4. The Mechanized Hand
Chaper 5. Golden Bees, Plain Cottages, and Apple Trees
Chapter 6. Signs of Life
Chapter 7. The Nature of Dissent
Chapter 8. Going to Ground
Chapter 9. Writing Against the Machine
Chapter 10. The Clockwork God
Chapgter 11. Looking for Luddites
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Engineering » Engineering » History