On Wendell Berry and digital technology

Dear Wendell,

I thought of you today, as I do most every day. I was at my computer, writing, switching back and forth between typing words into a Google Doc and consulting various websites, checking facts and data, sometimes finding quotes or stats to copy and paste into the piece. And I remembered, as I sometimes do in such moments, that your experience of writing is nothing like this.

You write as you always do, pencil to paper, in your pleasing penmanship, with Tanya serving as a sounding board and typing it up. You have never used a computer to write. You are not plugged into the Internet. And I believe with every fiber of my being, Wendell, that you and your writing are better off because of this. You are spared the frustrations that come with keyboards and downloads and passwords. Your writing is still deeply sourced, as the eight-page bibliography in The Need to Be Whole attests.

Read all of "Why I Wish I Didn’t Have a Smartphone and Computer (But Probably Won’t Give Them Up)" by Bill Lueders at Front Porch Republic.

Wendell Berry humor on Twitter

Susannah Black Roberts @suzania

Just got the following text from @johnnyburtka which I got his permission to tease him about publicly:

"Do you have an email for Wendell Berry? His new book is a finalist for our conservative book of the year award this spring."
2:53 PM · Nov 30, 2022


Replying to @suzania
Sweet summer child. Bless. Wendell Berry doesn't have an email address. We all communicate with him through the post.


Aleksander Temkin @AleksanderTemk1

What is his new book about?


Josh Hochschild @JoshHochschild



Jeffrey Bilbro @jeff_bilbro

Ha! Good luck finding an email address.


Rizoma Field School @RizomaSchool

This is adorable. Good news is he responds to letters right [away?]


Jane Clark Scharl @JcScharl

Hope you’re ready for a road trip, Johnny! 😍


Anthony Barr, MPP @AnthonyMBarr

Yo, what's his Whatsapp, been meaning to instant message him


A.G. Holdier @agholdier

"What's app?"


Jennifer A. Frey @jennfrey

Just take a trip to Kentucky, it's God's country!


National Conservative @DyonsisAropagit

Contact him via pyre beacons and messenger pigions.


Timothy J. Martin @foxes_on_fire

This is me learning Wendell Berry is still alive for the first time.



Susannah Black Roberts @suzania

Wendell berry has been shadowbanned

thanks Elon


Matthew H. Young @matthenryyoung
Replying to @suzania

Oh so that's why I'm not seeing his tweets anymore.


Susannah Black Roberts @suzania

Guys, it’s time— JOIN ME in my demand that @Twitter reinstate Wendell Berry’s account! #unblockwendell


Steve Wright @LiveManyLives

You can't block Wendell. You could try breaking his pencil but somehow when you got there the urge would leave you...


Philip Bunn @PhilipDBunn

This is gonna be like that time “Cormac McCarthy” ended up with a verified Twitter, isn’t it?


Nate @TornadoNate

we’re trying to end this monstrosity


Nate @TornadoNate

Remember the time he did a whole epic tweet thread about Burley Coulter?

We need access to his account so we could edit a whole volume:

Wendell Berry, Selected Tweets


cf. "Why I Am Not Going To Buy A Computer"


Wrapping up the Digital Wendell Berry discussion

Matt Stewart responds to a range of responses to his original essay "Stop Talking about Wendell Berry on Twitter":

It is true that the glass is decidedly half-empty in this analysis and that I risk hyperbole. But if the readers of Wendell Berry do not speak forcefully and often about the costs of our digital world, who else will? Who else can be counted on to simply reject, at times, these new “necessities?” Who else will remind us that we have options beyond either a grim realism that just accepts the tools that we have at hand and a shallow techno-utopianism that awaits not a new tool but a talisman? Poor old Twitter ($7.41 billion in total assets as of 2017) and Facebook ($84.5 billion in total assets as of 2017) can defend themselves, and I do not think it irresponsible to indulge in some hostile interrogation of the influence of their products.

I urge my fellow localists to think of their Tweets and Facebooks as analogous to cigarettes or plastic grocery bags. One or two are not so bad and they can even be enjoyable and useful. But they are not designed for moderate use and in the quantities with which we pump them out, a severe reckoning is at hand. I think it is likely that future generations will not look on us kindly as they labor to clean up the digital equivalent of secondhand smoke and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Read all of "A Digital Relation to the Universe" by Matt Stewart at Front Porch Republic.

Find a list of all articles in this series HERE at Front Porch Republic and here on this site.

On tweeting about Wendell Berry

Seeing quotations from Wendell Berry and advertisements for his work on Twitter is as jarring as imagining Burley Coulter spraying Jayber Crow from a Ski-Doo upon his return to Port William. A localist does not have to be a Wendell Berry fundamentalist to see that this is a problem. I will admit to dark visions of starting a fakeWendellBerry Twitter account and trolling anyone that posts about him on Twitter with Marshall McLuhan’s #YouKnowNothingOfMyWork!, but that seems counterproductive.

Read all of "Stop Talking about Wendell Berry on Twitter" by Matt Stewart at Front Porch Republic.

Read "The Irony of Twitter," a response by Jake Meador at FPR.

Ben Sixsmith offers some positive approaches to the use of Twitter in "Talking about Wendell Berry on Twitter" at FPR.

Read "Big Other is Watching. Hallelu!" by Eric Miller at FPR.

Read "Alone Together on the Internet" by Tara Anne Thieke at FPR.

Read "In Praise of Boredom" by Robert Moore-Jumonville at FPR.

Read "What Tolkien Can Teach Us About Twitter" by L. M. Sacasas at FPR.

Read "Marginalia" by Jeff Bilbro at FPR.

Read "Sparking Little Platoons" by Gracy Olmstead at FPR

Read "The Bar Jester Goes Off (While Putatively Responding to Matt Stewart)" by Jason Peters at FPR

Read "A Digital Relation to the Universe" by Matt Stewart at FPR

See John Fea's response, "Actually, Matt Stewart, you DO have 'to be a Wendell Berry fundamentalist' to believe those who use social media are delusional" (the substance of which is mostly contained in its title). Read the Comments there for a bit more and a response from Matt Stewart. Also, a followup by John Fea, "Another Post About People Who Tweet About Wendell Berry" (22 May 2018).

Guy Mendes contributes Wendell Berry photo to Wikipedia

With the help of the good folks at The Berry Center, we have received from photographer Guy Mendes a delightful photo for use in the Wikipedia article on Mr. Berry. Mr. Mendes has very generously released this photo under a Creative Commons license which allows the photo to be widely used.

I am also very thankful to photographer David A. Marshall, who created and donated the previous (and original) photo of Mr. Berry reading at Indiana's Frankfort Library in 2004 or 2005.


See the photo at Wikimedia Commons.

Blog Watch: On Wendell Berry and computers

I am typing on the MacBook that I purchased by all but emptying my research budget at the beginning of the summer. It is a beautifully designed and crafted machine. I enjoy the feel of the keys, the sleek economy of the design, and the superb software that runs the system. The physicality of how I am writing this and the way in which the physicality includes a well-made human artifact matters, because I just finished reading Wendell Berry’s essay “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine.”

via blog.nateoman.com