Wendell Berry, “Renewing Husbandry”:
I remember well a summer morning in about 1950 when my father sent a hired man with a McCormick High Gear No. 9 mowing machine and a team of mules to the field I was mowing with our nearly new Farmall A. That memory is a landmark in my mind and my history. I had been born into the way of farming represented by the mule team, and I loved it. I knew irresistibly that the mules were good ones. They were stepping along beautifully at a rate of speed in fact only a little slower than mine. But now I saw them suddenly from the vantage point of the tractor, and I remember how fiercely I resented their slowness. I saw them as “in my way.” For those who have had no similar experience, I was feeling exactly the outrage and the low-grade superiority of a hot-rodder caught behind an aged dawdler in urban traffic. It is undoubtedly significant that in the summer of 1950 I passed my sixteenth birthday and I became eligible to solve all my problems by driving an automobile.
- When I drive I become a different person. I am normally a patient person—but not when I’m driving. I become aggressive. I call people assholes. I would never do that in person! (And not just because I wouldn’t want to get in a fight.) I offer this as a counterpoint to those who would suggest that our tools (using that word broadly) are morally neutral. They do, in fact, train us in certain ways of being.
- Berry’s story is another example of Illich’s ideas about the development of tools