Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Lives

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Island Press, Oct 1, 2004 - History - 424 pages
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"Against the Machine is timely, compelling, and important. Its intellectual sweep extends from the transcendental to the transistor, covering much unfamiliar ground and reviving a long-neglected tradition of dissent." -ERIC SCHLOSSER, AUTHOR OF FAST FOOD NATION "Against the Machine is luminous, lyrical, impassioned, profound. I had to put the book down every few paragraphs and breathe in relief." -CHELLIS GLENDINNING, ORION "[Fox] carefully and convincingly makes her case that there have always been reasonable, indeed often brilliant, people who were not at all sure that technology was solving more problems than it created." -HARPER'S MAGAZINE 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 Luddites--the ""machine breaking"" followers of the mythical Ned Ludd--lifted their sledgehammers in protest against the Industrial Revolution. Tracing that current of thought through some of the great minds of the 19th and 20th centuries--William Blake, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Graves, Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and many others--Fox 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 immediacy--bringing a new dimension and depth to the debate over what technology means, both now and for our future.
  

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Contents

Prologue
ix
The Kellams and Their Island
3
The Frame Breakers
24
Romantic Inclinations
41
The Mechanized Hand
74
Golden Bees Plain Cottages and Apple Trees
118
Signs of Life
150
The Nurture of Dissent
186
Going to Ground
219
Writing Against the Machine
257
The Clockwork God
285
Looking for Luddites
330
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

The articles, essays, and book reviews of Nicols Fox have appeared in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Ruminator Review. She has also written regularly for The Economist and is the author of Spoiled, a journalistic perspective of emerging foodborne diseases (1997) and It Was Probably Something You Ate (1999). She lives on the coast of Maine.

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