Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Future as a Product of the Time in which it is Conceived

The Future as a Product of the Time in which it is Conceived

While reading H.G. Well’s novel The Time Machine, my thoughts continually gravitated towards two overriding themes in Well’s vision of the future – the influence of Marxism and Darwinism.

The evolution of humans based on the Marxist divisions of bourgeoisie and proletariat is the premise of the future for Wells, but it just seemed so outdated and unrealistic to me. Why is Well’s future based on the assumption that Marxism and Darwinism will eventually eclipse all other influences and become the driving force of humankind? What about the human ability to develop supranational governments, achieve social harmony or produce advanced technology

While the author provides a loose account explaining how and why humans have reached this situation – “This has ever been the fate of energy in security; it takes to art and to eroticism, and then come languor and decay” pg. 28 – a much better explanation of Well’s vision of the future can be understood by examining the time and place he wrote the novel.

Herbert George Wells wrote the novella in London at the turn of the century and it seems to be a clear reflection of the time and place it was written in. Upon closer examination it makes logical sense that his vision of the future is overwhelmed by the mixture of evolution, social Darwinian and Marxist themes. Inevitably Well’s novel is a product of London (the center of the world at the time) in the late 1800’s and the many social and scientific theories and ideologies of the time. In fact The Communist Manifesto was first produced in 1848 but by 1895 it had been translated and published in every major language and every major country. As for evolution, Darwin released his first copy of The Origin of Species in 1859, which spread like wildfire throughout Europe.

So it seems clear that The Time Machine is not only a vision of the future, it is also a historical testament of how we once viewed the future of man. Undoubtedly to people at the time, evolution and Marxist social theories were the inevitable forces that would shape mankind in the future. And of course, just as we can look back and see Well’s future as a product of his time, in the future others will look with interest at our visions of the future based on our current ideas on climate change, space exploration and genetic engineering. Thus, it seems that visions of the future are not only predictions of what will come, they are also testaments of the time in which they are conceived.



Blogger Miriam said...

More than Marxism and Darmwinism what else could have influenced Well's theories? Why would he take the division of classes that far? What does this mean? And why is the human evolution seem to peak with his time, and digress in the future? What does this say about time and space? What does this say about Well?

2/05/2007 8:09 AM  
Blogger Guillermo Murga said...

I agree with how unrealistic Well's vision of the future is. You bring up an interesting point when you mentioned the time and place of his location could be the reason why he came up with such an idea. If he were to write his book at this present time, I'm sure he would mention something about global warming or terrorism, and the outcome would have been completely different.

2/05/2007 10:47 AM  

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