This is a continuation of my previous post. For my meandering self-journey that led to the following assessment, click here

Warning: this is an analysis of H. G. Wells' The Time Machine and contains spoilers.

 

H. G. Wells' depiction of our future existence as humans says a lot about what he thinks of our species. Although it differs significantly from other modern fictitious portrayals of our future, I have to point out that he really nailed his interpretation of aliens and their technology in The War of the Worlds (1898), as far as sci-fi goes. As Steven Spielberg's 2005 movie rendition of the book demonstrates, H. G. Wells' aliens haven't gone out of style after all of this time. If this guy could make an alien in the 1890's that people in the 2000's could still watch without laughing, whatever he has to say about us must be worth hearing.

Some modern movies/books, depicting futuristic societies, that come to mind are "Elysium" (2013), "The Giver" (2014), and "Oblivion" (2013). All three of these share similar characteristics to other modern depictions:  dysfunctional societies resulting from monopolies on power, restrictions on freedom of the majority, and ultimately the culmination of human vices over an extended period of time on Earth. 

The Time Machine is not unlike these except that, jumping forward to the year 802,701 A.D., it displays these inherent human defects not through societal developments, but as physical manifestations from the evolution of our species. The result is two different species, the 'Eloi' and the 'Morlocks,' that have diverged from the common ancestor: us. These inhuman beings are breathing metaphors for the same human traits that ensure our ultimate doomed fate as depicted in the former three stories. The gross metonymy is both beautiful and sad.

The Eloi are frail, happy, stupid, and helpless creatures with no sense of community. They are the direct result of luxury and a total lack of hardships. In this world, the human race has eliminated the need to survive by removing every obstacle that the world presents to challenge us...a mission that we are constantly and presently employed in. Disease has been eradicated, nearly every other species has been driven extinct, and beautiful Teletubbies-like fields, as well as the ruins of the formerly intelligent inhabitants of the Earth, are what remain.

The gluttonous race resulting from the human insistence to refine itself by setting itself "steadfastly towards comfort and ease" (85) demonstrates that the human race can only live while it is surviving, and once it no longer needs to survive, it ceases also to live and to exist. Now that the Eloi inhabit the grassy fields, there is nothing left of humanity to show for the achievements that led to that world characterized by effortless "ease and security" (29) and the absence "of struggle, neither social nor economical" (31).

The Morlocks, the other strain of human descendant that evolved from underground workers, suppressed by the Eloi's ancestors to sustain their luxurious lifestyle, appear later in the novel to reveal that utopia is still just as realistic as we had thought. Mankind never really reached that state of total equilibrium, but instead the "ruinous splendor" (28) H. G. Wells depicts is the result of an oppressive aristocracy. The happy few danced in the sun, while their slaves toiled underground to eliminate their need to work. So Wells confirms the belief that there is no hope for us to reach that balance which we inherently strive for.

The Morlocks, ugly, ruthless killers, embody the evilness of Man -- the very evilness that enslaved them.  They represent only the unsympathetic desire to survive, an instinct which had completely died in the Eloi and yet which spawned them. The Eloi, although void of any trace of the hostile captors they originated from, represent human greed, and we find by observing them that as we get more of what we desire, we lose more of what we are as we "fade...into a contented inactivity" (33).

The artificial world mankind had created led to a 2-dimensional human. We had succeeded in all of our endeavors to optimize the world for our survival and ensure what we thought was our happiness, but we had overlooked "that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble," (86) and that what make us human are our highs and our lows, our imperfections, and our failures -- not equilibrium.

    "The institution of the family, and the emotions that arise therein, the fierce jealousy, the tenderness for offspring, parental self-devotion, all found their justification and support in the imminent dangers of the young. Now, where are these imminent dangers?" -- (H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, 32)

The evil Morlocks, the antithesis of the Eloi and everything we strive for including peace, security, and wellbeing -- and described as disgustingly inhuman -- maintained at least one very human trait: "initiative" (86). They maintained the will to live and to be. Although that is also what caused their savagery, that determination is much of what makes us human. In a way, it is beautiful.

And so maybe Mrs. Richardson was right, but maybe she was also just a bitter old lady. Not everything that is true is worth acknowledging, and, as demonstrated by the Eloi in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, not everything that is achievable is worth achieving.

Why am I writing this blog? It definitely is not because I have to.

If anything, I'm exercising my ability to do and to fail, because without failure, there would be no reason to be.

Happy failures!

 

 

Cited: Wells, H. G. The Time Machine. USA: SoHo, 2013 (Original Published 1895). Print.

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