death by paper cut











{November 1, 2008}   In the name of Progress

To such a state of affairs it is convenient to give the name of progress. No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year, it served with increased efficiency and deceased intelligence. The better a man knew his duties upon it, the less he understood the duties of his neighbour, and in all the world there was not one who understood the monster as a whole. Those master brains had perished. They had left full directions, it is true, and their successors had each of them mastered a portion of those directions. But Humanity, in its desire for comfort, had over-reached itself. It has exploited the riches of nature too far. Quietly and complacently, it was sinking into decadance, and progress had come to mean the progress of the Machine.

“I too have my troubles,” the friend replied. “Sometimes my ideas are interrupted by a slight jarring noise.”

“What is it?”

“I do not know whether it is inside my head, or inside the wall.”

“Complain, in either case.”

“I have complained, and my complaint will be forwarded in turn to the Central Committee.”

Time passed, and they resent the defects no longer. The defects had not been remedied, but the human tissues in that latter day had become to subservient, that they readily adapted themselves to every caprice of the Machine. The sigh at the crisis of the Brisbane symphony no longer irritated Vashti; she accepted it as part of the melody. The jarring noise whether in the head or the wall, was no longer resented by her friend. And so with the mouldy artificial fruit, so with her bath water that began to stink, so with the defective rhymes that the poetry machine had taken to emit. All were bitterly complained of at first, and then acquiesced in and forgotten. Things went from bad to worse unchallenged.

The Machine Stops

– E.M. Foster

(Full text here)

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