Would You Go Backwards or Forwards?
If you had a time machine like the one in H.G. Wells story, The Time Machine, would you use it? For the sake of the length of this blog, let’s assume you would. Would you want a machine that allowed you to stop when you saw something you didn’t understand or looked interesting like the one in the 1962 movie by the same name? Or do you want one that you set the time and date like the “Back to The Future” movies of the 1970’s. What is this fascination with the future that we all have? I’m not sure that I would want to go to the future, but I would like to go to the past and meet some of the great men and women I’ve heard about. I would also like to go back and perhaps correct a thing or two from my own past as the “Back to the Future” movies allowed.
In the original story the Time Traveller is fascinated with going into the future, but once he get’s there and looses his Time Machine, he becomes obsessed with finding it and returning to his own time. I can’t help but wonder what he expected to learn or experience in the future. I especially found interesting chapter 8, when he found the Palace of Green Porcelain. I will assume that he was the one who named it that since the Eloi didn’t speak or write beyond an abbreviated style. It was even more interesting that this story is one he is telling his friends after he returned and he still called it the Palace of Green Porcelain instead of a museum. In his mind he calls it a museum, yet he makes it out to be a spectacular vision in his story. The visual of a Palace made of Green Porcelain sounds so much more interesting than a museum. But on to my real point.
Since my idea of time travel is looking backward (no reference intended to Bellamy), I was especially interested in his description of the items he found. When he first found the museum his thoughts were, “And a first I was so much surprised by this ancient monument of an intellectual age, that I gave no thought to the possibilities it presented. Even my preoccupation about the Time Machine receded a little from my mind. (65) Even more interesting were the items he determined worthy of helping him reclaim his time machine. He took with him items of warfare and destruction. Items that he could use to retrieve his Time Machine by force and not reason. Perhaps he thought the Eloi and the Morlocks were too devolved to understand a logical and non-violent method of retrieval. When he finally does retrieve the Time Machine, the bronze valves had opened for him, he tells us that, ” I threw my iron bar away, almost sorry not to use it”(80). The question I keep asking myself during this part of the story is: Are we as humans, so ingrained to use violence to achieve what we want that it is the first thought and action we have in approaching a society we don’t understand? Or is it that we immediately go into self preservation mode?
Perhaps this is my personal version of a Utopian society; one where we ask questions first and kick ass later.
Wells, H.G. The Time Machine. (London,1895)