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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.
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 Luddites lifted their sledgehammers in protest against the Industrial Revolution.
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.
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