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February 06, 2006

What have we done?

Forster, ''The Machine Stops'' (online) -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

"We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It was robbed us of hte sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it."

This is scary to read. If you look at our technology, it seems to me that one day technology and machines will take over the world. In this story the people have become in a sense lazy. They have buttons for EVERYTHING and they dont have to move to accomplish any thing. Is this story supposed to be mimicking our world today saying that humans rely on technology to much and that it will haunt us in the end.

Another part I thought was great was when they talked about having physical strenght and that it was a demerit to be muscular. This is very ironic because today it is all about who is the strongest, well at least for guys. When it went on to say that it was better for an athlete to have it's life taken away because it wouldn't want its life be ordered around by a machine, this is true. How could you possibly enjoy sitting on your butt pushing buttons to receive items and then have it tell you what to do for almost every situation.
I know i would hate that. It seems to me in this part, the weaker humans are trying to get the stronger humans out of their society by having this Machine order and control their life.

What do you guys think? Did you enjoy reading this or did it kind of scare you like it did to me?

Posted by Denamarie at February 6, 2006 07:23 PM

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Comments

Well Dena,

It didn't really scare me, but I think it was very interesting. I agree with you on the issue of human strength. It was kind of ironic that it's a contradiction to today's society. I also think that Kuno's mental and physical strength represented something that the human race was instinctly trying to get back too.

What I wasn't sure about was whether Kuno made the machine stop or it just shut down? Do you know the reason that it stopped?

Posted by: Andy Lonigro at February 7, 2006 08:48 AM

I think that it stopped on its own Andy. It was dying on the believers of the machine. When the machine was dying, they didnt know what to do with their self, they were lost and confused.
I think that is why they started believing in it in the first place. They thought it would never die on them or not respond.
Maybe they lost faith in God and turned to the machine, which wasnt the best idea.

Posted by: Denamarie Ercolani at February 7, 2006 02:33 PM

That's a pretty good idea. Maybe, as time went on, people wanted something concrete to believe in. Instead of putting their faith into something they couldn't see, like an omnipotent God, they decided to use what they had here and make sure that nothing could harm them. They were insecure about themselves. And now I think I'm starting to see that fear really overtook the people. If you look at it, Vashti was afraid of everything. She feared the outside world and even her son's strength. They made their ownl ives so that nothing could harm them and without any challenges to make them stronger, they perished. Perhaps what Forster is trying to get across is that challenges and down times in our lives are necessary for the human race to constantly learn and survive?

Posted by: Andy Lonigro at February 7, 2006 02:53 PM

I think that the machine actually represented God, and as the people lost belief in it, it slowly "shut down" on its own, much like religion that slowly fade from existance.

The believers of that religion slowly see their religion as being false as soon as they see what man has done to it. For example, me and the Church. I realized that man was corrupting the Catholic church, and I couldn't stand. Now, is one person going to make it die? No, not really. But many people will--and I think that will happen soon.

The same thing with the machine. People lost their "way" and became confused about what to believe. Therefore the machine died, and slowly faded out of existience.

Posted by: Lou Gagliardi at February 7, 2006 02:57 PM

If anything, the machine represented a sort of pagan god... a god that merely appeases its worshippers, giving them everything they need and taking away their reason. It's a cold, sterile god that only wants weak individuals that want to just sit in a room all day.

Kunos is looking for more. He's looking for the real world, filled with the beauty of nature. He wants to be able to use his given talents and muscles, he wants to be able to reason and experience what its like to be free. His emerging though the dark hole in train tunnel is like his ascent to Heaven (light at the end of the tunnel, anyone?)

This story shows you the dangers of idolatry and sloth.

Posted by: Mike Rubino at February 7, 2006 08:01 PM

Dena,

It definitely freaked me out. I felt the same way about it as you. I love that quote you picked! He pretty much sums up what the world came to in that simple sentence. The Machine robbed them from seeing or interacting in any way with any other human being (if you can even call them human beings, they're more like robots). it blurred every human relation because the stupid machine distorted people's emotions on their faces because they thought it was unneccessary. Love was nonexistant. I guess they still reproduced the same way as now, but I would love for the author to go into more detail about how they even pulled that off if no one touched.

I also found it sick how they all like worshipped the Machine. Vashti kissed that book like it was the Bible. But I guess in a sense, it controlled their lives and supplied them with everything they thought was necessary, so in a way it was their god.

Uggh thinking about living that way makes me so angry!

Posted by: AmandaNichols at February 7, 2006 10:10 PM

I can see why this related to religion and technology. People rely on religion for answers to problems they have in their lives as well as a reason to live. Technology became these people's reason to live and I admire Kuno for wanting more out of life than that. Technology can save our lives but also ruin them if we don't moderate our use of it.

Posted by: Erin at February 8, 2006 10:59 AM

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