Monday, January 22, 2007

Humanity and The Time Machine

While reading The Time Machine, Marx and class structure was interesting to think about in relation to “Machinery and Modern Industry”. How the Morlocks became so much a fixture in the great mass of machinery below the surface that they could not even live without it. They work simply out of habit, and centuries after they have been exiled from the surface, they could not return to the sunlight even if they desired to. Their bodies had changed in such a way that they were more suited to coexist with machines than with the Eloi. The human race had indeed become separated by more than class, but actually split into two separate species.

This has already been commented on a bit though, but what interested me the most was the frightening picture of what humanity has become. Humanity in general has not evolved into a utopia but rather devolved into something more similar to animals, children and machines. One particular bit which stood out to me was “Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have to meet a huge variety of needs and dangers” (Wells 79). At some point in the huge leap of the time traveler, the classes became cemented in place, and without a need for change, the Eloi abandon their intellectual institutions (the ruined museum the time traveler visits for example) and the wit of the Eloi degraded to the level of children or animals, and have lost their humanity, left to be preyed upon by the Morlocks, who have equally rejected their humanity in favor of the machines. True, the time traveler felt more of a connection with the Eloi and loathed the Morlocks, “Instinctively, I loathed them” (Wells 57), but that was mostly due to their physical appearances, yet fundamentally, both the Eloi and Morlocks had lost what made them human long ago as result of the class system and the growing use of machinery which Marx described.

The last few chapters present a strong image for humanity for anyone believing that the human race is more than a relatively short amount of time in the existence of the Earth itself. The Earth existed before the advent of humanity, and after humanity eventually dies off, the Earth will continue to exist, possibly inhabited by giant crab creatures, until it is eventually consumed by an expanding red giant.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I would have to agree with a lot of what you said. The Time Machine almost seems to contradict what was brought up in class that when the upper-classes don't work it gives them more time. Time to do things like create great art or discover things of previous civilizations or even create new inventions to make life"easier." Instead of this happening the Eloi just became lazy and no longer cared to gain more knowledge or create new things, instead they became the much more primitive and child like society that you talked about.