Do You Buy the Eloi?
I’ve been creeped out by dystopias before but this one takes the Twinkie. Back up a minute, the Time Machine is a dystopia? I had read it years ago, but kind of forgot a lot of the plot. I never then thought of it as a book equivalent, in many ways, to Brave New World or 1984, but doing a double back, realize it’s worse, far worse than either of these. It’s worse than BNW because at least there is some possibility that you could know about the great things we as a species pride ourselves on: Shakespeare, Plato, Art, Culture, the ability to reason; at least on the fringes of society. And if not there is still some resemblance with language. In 1984 there is culture, a little, eking out in the plebe districts, and there is this possibility of thinking about rebellion and rising up, or thinking at all for that matter. A possible tryst too.
But here, the idea is that competition decreased and we no longer needed to compete as we did. I think of the progress made in the Mediterranean area because of all the traffic through there. People had to be creative to survive, inventing many new weapons of war leading to other discoveries. Lots of contact with other civilizations brought other cultures, stories, and inventions along also. But in the future this slows down, and everything becomes less conflicting, so we as a species quit producing all things?
I don’t think this Sci Fi story would be an easy sell today. With computer technology exponentially increasing, information exploding, and ideas such as humans and machines merging or the singularity all make it hard for me to believe this scenario possible. Also, I think we as conscious beings can steer ourselves away, and would, from such a dystopia. It seems that Wells didn’t account for things such as religion either. Looking back and at today there seems no way Christians, or Jews, or Muslims would allow for such a sliding into this abyss. Technology will keep becoming more powerful and religious fundamentalists will continue to oppose such things. I don’t know. I’m not arguing that religious peoples battles are eternal and will go on forever, but even when they do start to let up, they won’t stop worshiping and reading ancient texts and so on, and neither will others quit studying and producing art. Wells’ future is interesting but sells humanity short and doesn’t take in what we are, and what we want. It’s possible that man will start guiding his own evolution. This Eloi future is definitely not desirable, and would be avoided at all costs. A fun read, but I don’t think it works. Maybe it did then. No longer.