A Review of Devices of the Soul: Battling for Ourselves
in An Age of Machines. by
By Brent Aldrich.
Devices of the Soul:
Battling for Ourselves in An Age of Machines. Steve Talbott.
Hardcover: O’Reilly Media, 2007.
Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $18] [ Amazon ]
Recently, desiring what I assumed would be an ironic and out-dated read, I picked out from our recycling bin of books a book from 1984, Selecting the Church Computer, with a photograph on the cover of a computer older than I am. In reading and laughing at much of the text (“Did [God] have any inkling that with the passing of time his children would be using a creation of humankind’s knowledge called the computer to complete his work?”), it also began startlingly apparent how much faith was recommended in the computer for its use in education, developing software “to explain moral values and lead the church youth in a deeper understanding of the church’s mission and ministry” or in simulations of “real world” events such as “nuclear holocaust where the student must make the decision whether or not to push the button that sends the missiles.”
Although some questions as to the human work displaced by the computer are raised, notably absent are questions such as, “What will the church members do with the time they used to spend forming their youth?” Instead, the attitude is that “computers are here, and they are here to stay.” It is, it seems, our destiny. This technological acquiescence is the subject of Steve Talbott’s new book Devices of the Soul: Battling for Our Selves in an Age of Machines. Technologies, of course, are a result of our human devices, and as such can assist in our human workings; the trouble lies when this scenario is switched, when the human conforms to the machine, when the artifact or representation replaces the artificer, the real. This process of automation discretely grows and has grown to such a degree that our machines are increasingly defining us as human creatures. In that process, abstractions, disconnections, and placelessness become normative, and when turned back on humans presents a desolate outlook. As our mechanisms allow us to forget ourselves, our humanity is lost.
A Review of
The Barren Promise of
Genetic Engineering, by Craig Holdredge and Steve Talbott.
By Chris Smith.
Beyond Biotechnology. Craig Holdrege and Steve Talbott. Hardcover. University Press of Kentucky. 2008. Buy now from: [ Amazon ]
At Englewood Christian Church, we talk a lot about community, land and food in light of our Christian faith.We have appreciated a number of books in the University Press of Kentucky’s heralded “Culture of the Land” series that contains titles related to the new agrarianism.Thus, it was with great anticipation that I picked up this book, one of the most recent titles in this series.My anticipation was heightened further when, in her book Distracted, Maggie Jackson referred to Steve Talbott as a social critic of a similar caliber to Jacques Ellul or Neil Postman.A little more online research into the Nature Institute, for whom both authors work, served to pique my interest in Holdredge’s work and make me even more excited to read this book.Suffice it to say that this book not only met my high expectations, but also – in its launching out into some unexpected directions – offered much more than I had anticipated.