Friday, February 2, 2007

Discussion Topic: Isolation

Kuno is contacting his mother Vashti

“But it was fully fifteen seconds before the round plate that she held in her hands began to glow. A faint blue light shot across it, darkening to purple, and presently she could see the image of her son, who lived on the other side of the earth, and he could see her.”

Kuno ends the communication. For a moment Vashti felt lonely.

"Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere – buttons to call for food, for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature, and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.”

Discussion Question: Based on this excerpt from the story, do you think that technology in today's world isolates us from one another the way Vashti was isolated from Kuno? Why or why not?
Discussion Topic: Values

“Sitting up in the bed, she took it reverently in her hands. She glanced round the glowing room as if someone might be watching her. Then, half ashamed, half joyful, she murmured ‘O Machine!’ and raised the volume to her lips. Thrice she kissed it, thrice inclined her head, thrice she felt the delirium of acquiescence.”

'O Machine!’ she murmured, and caressed her Book, and was comforted.

'You are beginning to worship the Machine,' he said coldly. At this she grew angry. ‘I worship nothing!’ she cried. ‘I am most advanced. I don’t think you irreligious, for there is no such thing as religion left.’

Those who had long worshipped silently, now began to talk. They described the strange feeling of peace that came over them when they handled the Book of the Machine, and the pleasure that it was to repeat certain numerals out of it, however little meaning those numerals conveyed to the outward ear, the ecstasy of touching a button, however unimportant, or of ringing an electric bell, however superfluously.”

Discussion Question: Do you see any correlation between how technology affected the people in "The Machine Stops" and how technology affects us today? Please post your comment.
Discussion Topic: Open

Post your comments or questions about related topics in "The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster.