Saturday, February 10, 2007

Josh's blog round up

As I mentioned in a post last week, we really encourage you to integrate your blog responses into larger conversations occurring on this blog. The 'date' at the bottom of each post is actually a permalink, so you can copy it into the text of your response and directly link to the material you cite. [I'm repeating myself here but...] As we further develop the topic of this class, it will be increasingly important that you are able to build upon, question, and synthesize ideas developed in this blog. Good writing doesn't take place in a vacuum, and so we'd like you to be able to use this forum as a way of connecting your own responses to those of your peers. In this way we're also encouraging you to integrate the various texts and films around broader thematic topics of the course.

Before you write your blog responses for this week, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the responses from previous weeks, and in addition take a look at the following overview of this past week's blog responses:

Mike seemed to build on Daniella's ideas, observing that:

As soon as the device disappears, the appreciation and observation of the future is diminished to mere luxury and the sole purpose of this journey is to RETURN to the present state.
such material obstacles such as the disappearance of the machine itself and the interference of the murlocks have ironiacally hindered the freedom and ambitions of the time traveler, when he was supposed to transcend on his way to explore the future.

Sean built on Felix's observations of The Time Machine as critique of industrialization, arguing that by placing this critique in the future Wells is granted...

...more freedom to hypothesize about what current practices might lead to, and at the same time protected him against being labeled as too critical of contemporary society.

Devaansh points out how Well's critique of capitalism/industrialization is somewhat complicated by the fact that the time machine itself is a product of that very mode of hyper-industrial growth.

Phoebe pointed out the inconsistency in the way the time traveler seems to view humanity:

The Time Traveler has this inconsistent view of what humanity is. On the one hand, he views the Eloi as less than human because of their lack of intellect, but on the other hand he does not acknowledge the intellect that the Morlocks have.

Caitlin pointed out the parallels to marxist revolutionary imagery but notes that:

Instead of praising the Morlocks, the working class, the Time Traveller prefers the Eloi, the representation of the capitalists.

Jane looked at the time traveler as a likely candidate for one who would get along with the "haves" rather than "have-nots." Can we think of inventors as a kind of elite or do they have more in common with the mechanically adept Morlocks?

Dan demonstrated how a work of futuristic science fiction ultimately sheds more light on the particular historical context in which the author is situated.

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.

Rachel pointed out how the Time Traveler's (and our) conception of mechanized, regimented time, contrasts sharply with "a world that’s conception of time solely revolve[s] around night and day." She also explores the lack of a family unit (in the Eloi) as a similar sort of stripping away of social structure—a hypertrophied example of the kind of productivity oriented individuation that occurs in a capitalist system. This idea of individuation seems to be connected to the occupational titles of the Time Traveler's dinner guests. She also hints at the temporal dimension of the family unit by pointing out how families are organized around generational "lifetimes" (which by their nature shouldn't be "wasted"). For the Eloi, the notion of a life-span, has lost its potency as a marker of time, just as the family unit has ceased to indicate any relevant social relationship.

Eddie took Guillermo and Shane's arguments about the plausibility of Wells's future world a step further pointing out differences between de-evolution and evolution.
For me, this kind of plausibility argument raises questions about what kind of expectations a reader brings to a piece of science fiction. I think it's interesting how we feel so compelled to evaluate science fiction as a kind of forecast for the future. I found myself having the same reaction. Does Wells invite this kind of critique? I think in some ways he does, but I also think it's important to ask the question: what can we learn from trying to understand a vision of the future that originates in our own immediate past? Dan seems to have addressed some of these questions in last week's post.

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Blogger Irene Chien said...

Great job everyone on your insights into The Time Machine. Please mine these ideas for your essay. Silbi brought up another interesting question after class--why did Wells show the Time Traveller travelling exclusively into the future, rather than the past?

The figure of the time machine continues to fascinate us over 100 years after Wells's book: see this article from Scientific American on how theoretical physicists are pursuing the possibility of time travel today.

2/11/2007 10:28 PM  

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