Digital Media 1 reading for Oct 10


• Forster, E.M. – The Machine Stops (1909)


6 thoughts on “Digital Media 1 reading for Oct 10

  1. I thought I was gonna hate this because I don’t really like dystopian literature but this was really good. It was like Brave New World by Aldous Huxely but better. It far surpassed Brave New World on every level but I might be biased because I shouldn’t say I don’t like dystopian literature but more so plot driven dystopian literature like The Hunger Games. When it started off with buttons for everything and her talking to her son in the plate I was skeptical but then when she kissed the book of the machine it reminded me of Gollum from Lord of the Rings so I was sold. I like how ordinary things like sunbeams, touching, parenthood were alienized, more so isolated. I like how uncomfortable Vashti made me when she worshiped the machine and when they talked about how it’s better to not have original ideas. Kunos and Vashti? I thought that was the 1909 idea of futuristic names but I looked it up an Vashti is the name of a wicked and vain queen in the book of esther.

  2. In this dystopian society, everything run the Machine. A woman, named Vashti, gets a call from her son, Kuno. However, the phone system involves some form of hologram where facial expressions are not shown. Vashti keeps saying that she does not have much spare time and is very impatient. She happens to be a lecturer, as do most people in this society, and lives underground. This society has evolved such a complex social network, where availability at any given moment is essentially expected, that she has to “isolate” herself in order to not be disturbed while sleeping. She, as well as the vast majority of others, awkwardly worships the Machine. They will not admit their worship, but their actions and words reveal that they do. The story later reveals that there is no real parenting. Children are taken to public nurseries at birth and then assigned a room somewhere on the earth when they are old enough to be on their own. The purpose of the phone call is that her son wants her to visit him. The story reveals that Kuno is somewhat muscular, and in this society, this is consider a bad characteristic. So bad in fact that they killed off babies that promised musculature and athleticism. Their reasoning is that it is fair because the life the Machine world gives would suit them poorly. When Vashti visits Kuno, he tells her about how he made it to the surface and that he has been threatened with Homelessness. Homelessness is later revealed to be exile to the surface, where people were expected to perish under the conditions of the natural atmosphere.

    The Machine evolves to keep the people under its control. Things like the abolishment of the respirator and the re-establishment of religion (the religion being the worship of the machine) show this. It even evolved a death penalty for not worshipping it. The story ends with the Machine breaking down and all of its inhabitants dying, but leaves the promise of there being people who can survive on the surface and who will resurrect a society without the Machine.

  3. Good gracious. All I was thinking while reading this was how these people seem to be gods themselves. Like, the machine is the ultimate god, but what really got me was when Vashti “made the room dark and slept; she awoke and made the room light”. It just made me think of Genesis when God appeared in the formless entity that was earth and then there was light. And now just finding out that this was written in 1909 just blew my mind! There are times when I need to step back from social networks on my phone because I feel that I become too reliant on them when it comes to being entertained and even “enlightened” by what’s going on around me. This … this. Insane. It’s so funny how we go above and beyond to create new things and then with these new things we begin to try and understand it as though it were human. Technology becomes substitutes to life. It’s sad to me.

  4. This story was written in 1909, meaning no technology was created yet. Their was no planes, phones, computers, cars etc. so how did this author imagine the future? He used the present to influence and project what is going to happen in the future. Some of the things he described as “the future” is; the machine, living isolated underground, the air-ship and a lot more. Most of the things he describes can be a metaphor to things now, for example the machine is a metaphor to a computer and the air-ship to a plane. The lesson I see in this story is that technology keeps developing but we are depending on it too much and we should get out more and be associated with more natural things.

  5. I really enjoyed the reading this week. It was long was, but I’m glad that it wasn’t a lecture. I think that the short story shows how society develops technology and relies on it so much. Society also gets caught up in new technology that they loose touch with natural things. I think that is amazing that the author could envision a world like this especially when he lived in a world where telephones, and computers didn’t exist. He predicted the world we live in today, obviously less exaggerated, but the same none the less. Its a shame people are creating things everyday to reduce the amount of work done, and retain our attention span.

  6. By far this has been the most enjoyable reading thus far because it is a fictional story unlike the run-on articles we’ve read. The time period the story takes place in seems to be even further developed than what people today would consider the future. Though interesting, I was annoyed with how this society works. The fact that humans lived in solitude defeats the whole purpose of humanity. So much solitude, to point where they find it offensive to have physical contact. The Machine is to blame for this, but it is not entirely at fault. The Machine was man made and I feel like people let the Machine take over their lives, which expanded it’s power. They allowed the Machine to take over by depleting all religions and making it their center, their “god”. It got to the point where the people no longer had control of the Machine and in return controlled them and their movements. “We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now.”

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