One of my favorite poets whose writing inspired the name of this blog ("fragmentary things") writes regularly about the value of relationships, community, and being connected to the earth. For Berry, there is an almost spiritual emphasis on simplicity and sustainability. In an effort to maintain consistency in his own life, the poet farms using a team of horses and writes exclusively using paper and a pencil. His wife (and editor) then types his work using a typewriter that he purchased new in 1956.
In 1987 he wrote a thoughtful article about why he will never buy a computer. As a part of that piece, he included an interesting set of criteria for evaluating technical innovation as it relates to his own life and craft:
To make myself as plain as I can, I should give my standards for technological innovation in my own work. They are as follows:-
1. The new tool should be cheaper than the one it replaces.
2. It should be at least as small in scale as the one it replaces.
3. It should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better than the one it replaces.
4. It should use less energy than the one it replaces.
5. If possible, it should use some form of solar energy, such as that of the body.
6. It should be repairable by a person of ordinary intelligence, provided that he or she has the necessary tools.
7. It should be purchasable and repairable as near to home as possible.
8. It should come from a small, privately owned shop or store that will take it back for maintenance and repair.
9. It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.
The entire article is rather fascinating and provoked some rather vitriolic letters when it was published in Harper's. It's definitely worth a read, regardless of your persuasions. The article, responses, and Berry's counterpoint are all recorded online here: