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Nostradamus Forster

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

"Rapid intercourse, from which the previous civilization had hoped so much, had ended by defeating itself. What was the good of going to Peking when it was just like Shrewsbury? Why return to Shrewsbury when it would all be like Peking?"

This quote made me think about corporate globalization and how you can find a McDonald's in Greensburg that's just about the same as the one in Tokyo. Commercialization, like Forster's Machine, has sort of taken over the world so that you can find the same companies almost anywhere you go. It reminded me of a documentary we watched in Thinking and Writing last semester called "Hollywood and the Muslim World." It was about how American media is so pervasive in Muslim cultures that their media and culture have started to emulate American culture in some ways. It's like how the Machine has caused everyone to form one mass culture without individual identity. I have no clue how E.M. Forster in 1909 was able to see all this in his crystal ball, but it's freaking me out!

Comments (5)

Chera Pupi:

I totally agree with you. It's unbelievable that this was written in 1909. It's amazing that Forster was able to write such a tecnologically advanced work 98 years ago. It's truly a timeless work in that the contents are so far fetched even for our technology driven society today--it could have been written yesterday and it would still have the same effect on me.


I think we get so wrapped up in civilized things, stores, restaurants, buildings, that we often forget to look outside, at things that are really important. How often do each of us use the phone to have an important conversation with a friend where, by sacrificing only an hour or two, we could easily have that conversation face-to-face? If everything was suddenly transported underground (and assuming that we were blindfolded for any commuting from building to building) how long would it take us to notice? Perhaps we have not yet created the Machine, but look how quickly we are building it!


Wow, Matt. You are already getting anonymous comments. Sketchy. Anyway, in response to that comment, even worse than the telephone example...how about when we IM, email, text message or Facebook a friend to tell them something important rather than face to face? Does any one else worry that those sort of things depersonalize us? Or, do those forms of communication actually bring us closer together? It is certainly a debatable issue that is amazingly captured by Forster despite him not knowing about any of these technologies back in 1909 when he wrote it. I think there is a call for balance with these technologies...I don't ever want things to get to the point where people would be afraid of other people like Vashti is in the story.


I agree with you guys. This work was so ahead of its time and the way Forster predicted our world was so close to dead on.

Jara White:

hey I'm going to have to agree with you guys and say that we are in world today where people would rather send an e-mail then go and meet up, and talk to some one face to face. It's pretty scary when you think about it that we could turn into those people in the story, afraid to touch people, never leaving our houses. Some people are like that already why go to the store when you can order online.

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