Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Shaping the Future.....Now?

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is revolutionary in the sense of introducing the idea of time travel to the world of literary works. In addition to that, it tackles the problems facing industrialized states of that time with the possible consequences that can arise in the future.

The book looks into the dividing line between the rich and the poor, shining light to the drawbacks of capitalism. When the book was written, Europe was undergoing a heavy transformation to an industrial state. This caused great technological advances, efficiency, and to some- a growing separation of wealth among the working class and the elite. Wells uses the inhabitants of the underground to represent this working class, where they work to keep the Eloi happy and content living above. This was an interesting concept, but I doubt this is possible, even thousands of years from now. Humans by nature are selfish and want the best for themselves. History has shown when the masses are unhappy, they tend to rebel and leave it to the common people to take action. While it is possible for wealth to be distributed unequally, I don’t think it can separate society into two distinct groups especially into an above and underworld. Humans typically know when they are mistreated and they will stand up for what they believe in. Yet, Wells introducing these possible consequences of a capitalistic society was novel and original, especially his time of drastic change.

When the Time Traveler meets the Eloi in the year 802,701, he notices how small, fragile, and unimaginative they are as a result of a sedentary way of life. In the future, everything is going to be done for everyone, needing no work or technological research. This sparked my interests because I believe this is probable. Within the last hundred years, people in industrialized societies have become highly inactive which are causing health problems. In addition, with the rapid pace of technology, one wonders if we will reach a state where we can’t go any further leading to a halt in development and research. I can picture the human race evolving to something that resembles the Eloi, but maybe not so extra-terrestrial looking.

While The Time Machine introduces possible outcomes from capitalism and technological advances, some ideas may not seem so plausible. Yet, it makes the reader stop and think what may happen in the future as a result of our actions today. Especially with the increased awareness of global warming, terrorism, and nuclear weapons, the future depicted in The Time Machine seems more desirable than what we might have in stored.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the book contains the criticism of capitalism. The Elois are definitely representing the Victorian England's aristocrats, while the Morlocks represent the working class in that time. But I also think that the Time Traveller's initial impression on the Elois is a commentary on communism. In the book, he mentions having no fears or problems and having everyone to be equal and fair might have led the Elois to be weak, lazy, naive, and unindividualistic. Also the Elois have everything they need and they all have it equally and fairly, that they don't need a family or gender. He expresses that hardship leads to vigor, and keeps men intelligent and strong. In this sense, Wells is saying that communism sounds good in theory, but in reality, it will make people dull and useless in the end.

1/30/2007 5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although the split of the human species in this way seems hard to imagine I don't see it as completely impossible. If the rich had all the weapons and sophisticated tools they could force the poor underground and over time the poor would adapt to the surroundings. Once they were well adapted they were not suited for surface life, at which point the rich no longer needed to actively control them and thus started the process of decline. Yet, it is hard to imagine this much happening in 800,000 years though because evolution is a very slow process. Unless of course it was the result of future genetic experiments...

On another note, the idea that the Eloi don't need to "do" anything because everything has already been figured out by prior generations reminds me of the film Idiocracy which looks at the US 500 years from now and everyone has become exceedingly stupid and dysfunctional . It criticizes aspects of society in many of the same ways that The Time Machine does.

1/31/2007 9:14 AM  
Blogger Silbi Song said...

Irene and Josh! The first comment (1/30/2007 5:49 PM) was posted by me. Thank you! =)

2/07/2007 7:20 PM  
Blogger Mike Kim said...

The further connections to our present reality are really necessary in reading the Time Machine in my opinion, and that is precisely the reason why this book is called a classic; it gives different meanings to people who live in different time periods.

However, also, Time Machine succeeded in convincingly conveying a future space that is believable throughout different times. The connections you made with terrorism and global warming are very much reflected in the book too, i think. Metaphors such as the division between humankind and the devestated nature of the underworld certainly point to this aspect.

4/29/2007 3:22 AM  

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