Saturday, June 02, 2018

E. M. Forster and The Machine Stops

Last week an anonymous reader left me a kind comment and a link to a short story/novella by E. M Forster, well-known British novelist of the early 20th century. I'm usually not keen to read long pieces on my computer monitor, but in this case I was so impressed by the story that I quickly became enthralled, made it all the way through easily. Title of the story: The Machine Stops. Wikipedia has a plot summary, but I'd recommend just diving in with no prior knowledge, as I did. Here's a link to the novella online - I zoomed in quite a lot to make reading more comfortable:

A couple of taster quotes:
“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.”

“Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives is the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralyzed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops - but not on our lies. The Machine proceeds - but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die.”
From The Machine Stops by E.M Forster.

My next thought, after amazement at such a prophetic tale, written in 1909, was: what kind of natal chart did this author have? A brief look, only in connection with this novella.

Born on 1 January 1879 in London, UK. No time of birth is known, chart set for noon, so exact Moon position and rising sign are unreliable, though natal Moon would have been somewhere in Aries whatever the time of birth.

The Grand Trine (in green) a kind of harmonious circuit stands out. It links natal Sun and/or Mercury in Capricorn/Sagittarius with Uranus (planet of everything futuristic) in Virgo, and to Neptune in Taurus. Neptune is planet of creativity and imagination. This is a Grand Trine in Earth, and the particular work of Forster mentioned in this post is really a story of Earth itself! In addition, natal Jupiter in Aquarius (sign ruled by Uranus in modern astrology)is in semi-sextile to natal Sun in Capricorn. Aquarius and Capricorn do share their traditional ruler, Saturn. I see this as adding weight to futuristic mindset (and social conscience -as displayed in other of Forster's novels) - yet always bound to "Earthiness".


Twilight said...

Received by e-mail from the UK, from "JD"

Interesting that you should post that today. The machine has temporarily ground to a halt here with Visa cards not working in the UK and Europe!

Highly amusing. I never use a card for anything, occasional on-line shopping and that's all.

On a related note: why does my local bus service have these 'wave it around a bit' card readers? Who pays a £1 bus fare with a credit card? When the credit card statement arrives, how do they remember all the payments they have made?

Laziness is the mother of 9 inventions out of 10! :)

Is it me or has everybody gone mad?

must get a copy of that book.

Twilight said...

JD ~ Yep! Everybody's gone mad - it's not you - unless it's me as well. ;-)

Wisewebwoman said...

I'll have to come back. Pressed for time. I am intrigued.


Wisewebwoman said...

OMG, what prescient writing just about 100 years ago. Just look at us all.


Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~ Yep! Absolutely amazing! :)

Anynomus said...

Twilight said...

Anynomus ~ Thank you for the link - the video is an eerily brilliant accompaniment to E.M. Forster's amazing story.