The most challenging class I ever took was an English course taught by Professor Lionel Basney. I entered that class thinking I was a decent essayist;

The Beauty of Drudgery

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2022-06-23 12:30:05

The most challenging class I ever took was an English course taught by Professor Lionel Basney. I entered that class thinking I was a decent essayist; I exited with a handful of Cs, average at best. I also exited a much more thoughtful writer.

Aside from being tough, Professor Basney was also an infamous Luddite—that is, someone who intentionally eschewed technology. I have vivid memories of him clacking away on the typewriter in his office. Basney was friends with another well-known Luddite author, Wendell Berry. Both shared a philosophy that, through Basney’s class, I came to appreciate.

From Berry’s 1988 essay for Harper’s Magazine, “Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer," this excerpt summarizes his approach to evaluating technology:

In the tech industry, our work is often characterized as “faster, more automated.” At first glance, this approach seems at odds with the standards above, which I’d characterize as “slower, more thoughtful.” What lessons, if any, might we learn from those who see the world through such a radically different lens?

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