Wendell Berry’s essay on his view of computers was an interesting one that comes from an unpopular perspective. He used strong points about the cost of owning a computer, the toll strip mining has on the environment, and his wife’s important role in his life to identify the problems with computers. The writer could have done a better job developing the topic. I can assume he wrote this essay to convince the reader they do not need the products of the energy corporations as well as a call to action to depend less on energy sources such as coal.
His purpose seems to be to become less hooked to the electric corporations. Berry was also trying to convince readers that writing better and more efficiently has no ties with computers. He relies on logic when speaking of the direct dependence on coal the electric corporation has. Emotion is relied on when speaking of his wife and their close relationship. Berry is writing for the people of today who are hooked on the electric corporations as he is. This essay is written as if the audience is well informed of all the pros and cons that come with computers.
Berry assumes that his audience will not be accepting of his view of computers and speaks of his peers that claim his writing would be easier done with a computer. The audience and Berry seem to agree on the high cost of computers as well as the environmental issues. He still has difficulty agreeing with anyone that modernizing his writing style will benefit him in any way. Issues with the environment help Berry’s argument by appealing to a broader range of people. A topic such as preserving the environment is accepted by more folks than not.
Wendell was born in 1934 and raised by his father, a lawyer, and his mother, a college educated women who loved to read. He is an environmental activist, writer, and farmer with plenty of experience and knowledge of all three. His knowledge on the environment and writing skills gives his statements some credibility. Berry has written poems and over forty novels in his days giving him plenty of experience to write well with or without a computer. One aspect of Berry that could possibly hurt his effectiveness in convincing his readers, though, is his age.
People tend to stick to what they know as he is doing by keeping his old typewriter. Berry appeals to the reader’s logos and pathos in his essay. He pulled at our emotions when he said “How could I write conscientiously against the rape of nature if I were, in the act of writing, implicated in the rape? ” for example. Reason was shown in his work when he discussed the lack of a connection between writing effectively and computers. When he mentions the high costs of owning a computer, reason is shown also. His argument is strong on how electric appliances are not needed to write.
His pleas that computers cannot help bring us any closer to peace, political honesty, etc. is weak in the sense that nobody has made the claim that computers could do such a thing. Berry uses a few different writing styles in his argument such as rhetorical questions and similes to help identify with the reader. The number of people telling Wendell Berry he “could greatly improve things by buying a computer” obviously irritated him. When he mentions his type writer being as good as it was in 1956, when it was bought new, he implied there is no need for innovations of today.
This was appealing to our emotions towards history. He then went on to make his argument of strip mining coal and high costs of electronics. He also implied that giving in and buying a computer would mean replacing his beloved wife. These are two of the reasons that Berry’s argument was triggered. He uses these personal experiences to further prove his point on computers. Berry wrote a clean and well organized essay with all of his ideas arranged. He states he has several good reasons and then continues on with a paragraph for each.
He then stated his take on environmental issues and followed it with his solution. Berry explains why he does not like the electric corporations. After that he goes into how they do not provide the things that really matter to him to keep the paper running more smoothly. He closes with “My final and perhaps my best reason for not owning a computer is that I do not wish to fool myself. ” This helps to put him in the consumer’s shoes. It attempts to get on a more personal level with the reader. However, this piece could use more evidence from outside sources.
It does not demonstrate many facts, quotes from authorities, or even testimonies. Although Berry has good points and arguments in this essay, he leaves room for opposition. In his argument that writing could not be improved by only purchasing a computer, he does not say that he has ever tried this himself. Having personal experience with using a computer would have helped develop this argument better. By stating that we cannot move forward in our society with computers, he is over exaggerating what the computers are meant to do.
No computer states we will benefit from it with [peace, economic justice, ecological health, political honesty, family and community stability, and good work]. Overall, Wendell Berry was effective in making his points and giving supporting details with them. He wrote this essay effectively because he appealed to our logos and pathos in his efforts to convince the reader that he is right. He also identified with the reader by discussing the high cost of computers and his lack of funds to purchase one. Berry, however, could have made this essay more convincing with use of ethos in his writing style.