Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Machine Stops

I have yet to see WALL-E, but found this post on Britannica Blog notable since it points out a "thoroughly worked-out allusion" to one of my favorite short stories, E.M. Forster's 1909 work The Machine Stops.

I've been familiar with Forster since high school when my class read A Passage to India, a novel exploring the subtleties and shades of misunderstanding and universality in the cultural mingling of British colonial India. During Notre Dame's summer London program, my English class read The Machine Stops, a nearly hundred year-old work exploring a dystopian future in which humans are lazy and disconnected, relying on machines to do most of their work. Most social interaction occurs through telescreens rather than actual physical contact (as the Britannica post notes, quite similar to Facebook and MySpace eh?) in a civilization that has long since retreated underground, leaving machines to manage the decaying surface of the Earth.

I look forward to seeing WALL-E more than ever now, especially since it seems to be the latest installment in the science fiction tradition of giving lifeless dystopian futures a pulse. And if there's one thing I love, it's lifeless dystopian futures. Um, with hope and love trying to break through. With a pulse. Or something.