Category Archives: Featured Posts

People’s Choice Posts #2: The Star

Just like we did for “The Machine Stops,” read through your classmates’ reading response blogs on “The Star and choose your favorite post. You can choose a post for any reason, but you always must clearly articulate your rationale for choosing it (e.g., why did you find it interesting, compelling, likeable, provocative, etc.?). This rationale can refer to content, style, creativity, etc. If, after reading everyone’s posts, you strongly feel that your post is your “favorite,” you can always vote for yourself, but you need to provide a rationale for doing so.

In order to register your vote for this week’s “People’s Choice,” “leave a reply” to this post, and in your comment, provide your chosen post, an excerpt from it + rationale for choosing it. Provide the title and author of the chosen post, along with a link to the post you are citing (please provide the link in the same comment: don’t make a separate one with just the link). Citing is really important (in this case, citing your classmate!), and this is a way of giving credit to other sources and putting yourself in dialogue with them.

Comments/votes are mandatory, should be made no later than Tuesday, 9/25, at 12:00pm: the person with the most votes will earn the coveted “People’s Choice” honor for this round of posts! I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose, and why.

Metropolis and The Machine Stops: A Close Comparison of Two Science Fiction Stories

Metropolis is a silent science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang in 1927 Germany. After watching Metropolis, I realize that it shares similar elements to the 1909 short science fiction story “The Machine Stops” by E.M Forster. This includes its setting, plot and characters. For example, they are both set in a dystopian future in where humans are controlled by “the machine”. In Metropolis, underground workers are forced to work for the machine because their city’s “life-force” depends on it. If a worker slacks off, parts of the machine gets destroyed. Therefore, it can be assumed that every worker is vital in the stability of their city. These workers are shown to work so hard that they get physically exhausted, but continue to perform because “someone has to stay at the machine” (0:34:16). On the other hand, in “the Machine Stops”, most of the citizens of this world live underground in a community created and controlled by the machine. As a result, they do not know life without the machine and cannot live without its influence. For instance, the citizens are given technologies that accommodate their every need (3) and they are encouraged to resort to a book created by the machine for advice on common and uncommon issues.

The main characters are quite similar as well. Metropolis’ Freder Fergerson and “The Machine Stops’” Kuno both rebel against the machine after watching what it does to humans. They share a disdain for it because they value freedom over being controlled. In Metropolis, after watching a worker become exhausted from controlling part of the machine, Fergerson helps him by taking over his position so that he can experience freedom (0:35:40). In “The Machine Stops”, Kuno encourages people to live in the outside world so that they can be free from the influence of the machine. In addition to their values, both characters have similar parents. Fergerson and Kuno are sons to people who share deep beliefs in the machine. They also try to convince their parents in leaving the machine, but are unsuccessful in their attempts.

Another similarity between “The Machine Stops” and Metropolis is the characterization of the background characters. Both stories portray them as robots with no free will. In Metropolis, the workers perform their duties with exact precision (they only move the part of their body that needs to be used) and they all move at the same time (0:14:17). Furthermore, each worker is given a number and is referenced by only that number (01:12:07). While in “The Machine Stops”, “[p]eople were almost exactly alike all over the world” (8) because “[e]ach infant was examined closely at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed” (11). As a result, most humans in “The Machine Stops” are forced to follow the machine’s idea of life.

One last similarity between the two stories Is the interesting use of capitalization for the machine. In “The Machine Stops”, the word “machine” is always capitalized, but in Metropolis it is both capitalized and lower-cased.  I wonder if this is a consistency error or if it was done on purpose. If it was done on purpose, perhaps it depends on the person saying it; a person who believes in the machine would treat it as an entity and capitalize it, but a person who doesn’t believe in it would lowercase it. If this is true, I believe this small detail informs us a considerable amount on a characters beliefs and values.

Metropolis: A Film Beyond Its Time

The movie “Metropolis” directed by Fritz Lang, tells the story of two different societies. The first society being underground, working hard. And the second society, living freely and not breaking a sweat. These two societies resemble different social classes. The first class is the workers, living underneath the city, where they work to keep the city from shutting down. The second class is the higher class, where they live in the city of Metropolis. Throughout the movie, you can spot out the differences between where the higher class lives and the workers live. Within the city, there is a location called the “Club of the Sons”. Within this place holds lecture halls, libraries, theaters, and stadiums. There is also a place called the “Eternal Gardens”. It is a difficult place to describe but I would say that it is a place to go for pleasure. But deep below, where the workers live there is no such place. There is nothing fancy down below.

Even the architecture in the city of Metropolis is better than the architecture down below. At 24:14-24:32, there is a glimpse at the city of Metropolis. It is very futuristic in size, length, and shape. For a movie, that was made during that time it shows a realistic future our society could be heading towards. There were tall buildings, quick transportation, multiple highways, and flying planes. Some would say the above is a utopia, where everything is perfect and down below is a dystopia, where everything is horrible.

One thing I found interesting was the mention of the phrase, “God is the world and its Creator! And great is Man!” When I read this phrase over and over again I understood it. To me, it means that Man is so powerful and special that they have the ability to create a city like Metropolis. A city like Metropolis is a serious accomplishment. The character Joh Fredersen, who is the Master of Metropolis did a great job at creating a futuristic city. Although it is wrong that he keeps people down below, working them to their death. Also, it means to me that since God has created this world, we have been using his creation as a way to provide mankind a way of survival.

Another thing I found interesting was the inclusion of the seven deadly sins. The seven deadly sins are gluttony, wrath, pride, lust, envy, anger, and sloth. One of the deadly sins that are used in the film is lust. At 1:32:32, the men can be seen as sex craven. It is the way they behave resembles the deadly sin, lust. They act like wild animals when they see a woman dancing. Another deadly sin that is use is wrath. At 2:15:45, the workers down below seek revenge on the fake Maria by burning her body. The workers are angry because they believe that their children have died down below. Since the fake Maria told the workers to rebel and destroy the Machines a water activation was activation and the streets where the workers lived were flooded with water.

Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang is an enjoyable film. The themes and the biblical references play a huge part in the film’s plot. The use of a robot or machine-men were uncommon back in his time. But Lang made a great film. A film that has a combination of technology and religion.

The Star Blog

“The Star” is a science fiction short story written by H.G. Wells. It portrays to its readers a realistic event that could happen in our future of planetary collisions and the catastrophic disaster that would be left in its wake. It is interesting as to the way that Wells portrays the humans in his story as oblivious and ignorant.

When there is news of Neptune going to collide with the white star, people are ecstatic, excited, and enthusiastic of the event. There are shouts and talks all over the world and many did so “jestingly.” The whole world seems to participate in a grand festival as they marvel the approaching star. They seem oblivious to the effects and dangers of the collision. Instead of worrying, humans make themselves the audience ignorant of the fact that they are a part of the play. It makes one wonder if it is human nature to remain ignorant to impending threats until it is too late. People are experts and display true professionalism at making excuses, lies, and looking at the “brighter” and sweeter side despite the poison and danger that lurks beneath.

This nature is reflected in Forster’s “The Machine Stops,” as the humans do not realize the extend of the problem that the Machine has cause. The keen and sharpness once portrayed in humans have been dulled due to their over-reliance on the Machine. There have been warnings and signs of the Machine stopping, but the people just played it off as temporary. Steps and precautions could have been taken, but humans remain content in their make-believe world. It is not until they are faced with the consequences, the death of the Machine that they realize their mistake.

Wells’ characters’ nature is paralleled again in our own society. In our society, the impending threat of global warming and environmental issues are becoming increasingly visible, yet nothing is done to try and fix this problem. The vast majority, the “nine human beings out of ten [are] still busy at their common occupations.” The water is still left running while people brush their teeth and the light remaining on despite having no one in the room are all examples of our continual ignorance. People may have acknowledge the problem, but they distant themselves and makes excuses like “It is not immediate,” “There is still time,” and “It has nothing to do with me.” What is considered immediate? Is it until the consequences hit us at full force considered immediate? By the time that people realize it, there is no time left and now it has everything to do with you. 

Humans, at least the vast majority of humans, are all lazy and self-centered. As long as things do not concern or benefit them, they make no move. People cannot be content with their life as is, we need to take precautions for the future impending threats. The older generations may have a harder time to change, but children need to be taught the importance of the double “A”s, awareness and action.

The Star Blog

    The Star was more of apocalyptic short story to me. The Star was really a comet that had disrupted the natural solar system and caused ecological catastrophes on earth which to lead most of humanity’s doom.  

What I got from the Story was how everyone had reacted to the star as people thought it was a sign for them and what it meant behind it. However, there was an detachment from the from the story . The author was explaining the natural occurrences on earth and in outer-space , but I  never felt the emotions of the humans that was spectating this phenomenon in the sky, it was like I was just far-way observer. This is just like reading a regular newspaper.

What was sad about the story was the plain ignorance that I saw from the few people who expressed their thoughts about the star in the sky . These people where inquisitive about the Star plainly because they didn’t know what it was exactly and on the first page, third paragraph,  newspapers has already reached across the two hemisphere making almost all of humanity known to this spectacle. Some newspapers around the world has made inferences about the spectacle in the sky ,for example, on page 1, 4th paragraph, it says” ” Planetary Collision”, one London Paper headed the news, and proclaimed Duchaine’s opinion that this strange new planet would probably collide with  Neptune.”Now these newspapers aren’t experts in astronomy , but it it surprises me that at this era of time  telescopes  can  see millions of miles away especially that Neptune is furthest planet in our solar system . This is real science fiction. 

This story reminds me of  the movie Armageddon starring Bruce Willis. A giant asteroid was inevitably coming to destroy earth. The setting of the movie was in 1999  and where technology has greatly advanced since the time of  the short story The Star. In the movie humans was able to go into the giant asteroid and plant a nuke inside it,  blowing it up. This act saved all of humanity. In the short story , people only looked at the spectacle in the sky and  suffered through the ecological catastrophes on earth , while the comet passed.  

In addition , there something to note about the analogy I brought up in the previous paragraph .  Both the story and movie are set in different era’s, especially the technology which is quite ironic. Both era’s are 100 years apart with similar plots. While in one era , humanity has there primitive technology, with only one advanced telescope , while the other is advance in everything especially that they can land on a giant rock and destroy before it hit earth completely. I bring this up specially because the setting of  The Star didn’t have advance technology at there time like cellphones , and computers. There primitive technology suppressed them formulating a plan to use some kind of technology to cease or destroy the comet that is causing catastrophe on earth. While in the movie Armageddon, humanity sent astronauts to the asteroid and quickly planted a nuke in the center of the rock to split into two. This was with the help of  spaceships, advanced weaponry like the nuke, advance telescopes and advance calculations  made by of all sorts of people in the scientific world. 

 

People’s Choice Posts #1: The Machine Stops

As you know, throughout the semester, I am going to be choosing a “featured post” (or “posts”) for each blog assignment, to highlight examples of successful blogs. But … what I might find compelling or well-done in a blog post might not be the same thing as your peers do. Enter “People’s Choice Posts,” which allow the students to read and honor awesome writing by their classmates (or themselves!). This also helps to bring student voices into the course more fully, as each students’ blogs because required reading for the course.

Here’s how it will work. Read through your classmates’ reading response blogs on “The Machine Stops” and choose your favorite post. You can choose a post for any reason, but you always must clearly articulate your rationale for choosing it (e.g., why did you find it interesting, compelling, likeable, provocative, etc.?). This rationale can refer to content, style, creativity, etc. If, after reading everyone’s posts, you strongly feel that your post is your “favorite,” you can always vote for yourself, but you need to provide a rationale for doingso.

In order to register your vote for this week’s “People’s Choice,” “leave a reply” to this post, and in your comment, provide your chosen post, an excerpt from it + rationale for choosing it. Provide the title and author of the chosen post, along with a link to the post you are citing (please provide the link in the same comment: don’t make a separate one with just the link). Citing is really important (in this case, citing your classmate!), and this is a way of giving credit to other sources and putting yourself in dialogue with them.

Comments/votes are mandatory, should be made no later than Tuesday, 9/11, at 2:30pm: the person with the most votes will earn the coveted “People’s Choice” honor for this round of posts! I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose, and why.

Reading Response 1: The Machine Stops PB

Reading the Machine Stops by E.M. Forster I picked up on a lot of similarities within our civilization. “The Machine” as it is called in the story embodies I believe, God. It replaces all religion and becomes a religion. Throughout the story you can see countless examples where characters in the story praise and pray to the book for answers, etc.. “She whirled around, praying to be saved from this, at any rate, kissing the Book, pressing button after button”. (Forster, pg.  25) In what I believe are one of Vashti last moments you can see the amount belief in “The Machine” even after knowing that the machine itself had be rendered useless, powerless.

This story really coincides a lot with what is going on earth now. Technology for the better has improved our efficiency as humans and with the combination of science has improved our life spans and will continue to in the long run. As technology continues to develop and better itself. But a downside to technology is the heavy dependence on it, we see it was heavily illustrated by Forster in “The Machine Stops”. Today in society especially in the youth, technology plays a big role in our lives. The need of better cellphones and laptops, etc. increase by the year and the smarter and advance they become the more dependent we become as Users. As we saw in the story “The Machine” the members of that civilization depended heavily on the machine and we saw that clearly following Vashti and her journey to her son. We also learned that they were forced underground due to rapid decay of the earth a fault on to fall on us the human race.

In the past few years I questioned the facts on global warming and their reality. I thought as a young kid that it was all fake and some sort of political fiction to get people to vote or cause paranoia with in society. But these past few years as I matured and really opened my mind I have seen the harm we all have caused this earth. And this story maybe fiction but it is more of far off reality our future generations may live in. Especially if we continue to harm our earth and not come to face with the consequences before they arrive.

From the beginning of the story to the end we see the heavy dependence this civilization held towards the machine. Again I relate this to our current civilization and our heavy dependence on technology and heavy connection to it as it if were religious. But I do not blame our advances cause we will continue to try and better ourselves for generations to come. But we must do it in a way where we as a race don’t lose ourselves and lose connections with those who we love. And especially do it in a way where we can conserve our planet and pass down those teachings so that we can leave a home to generations to come. “The Machine Stops” By E.M. Forster to me was another eye opener to where my civilization is headed if no actions are taken by a majority of us. I admit it was an entertaining read but it also impacted me for the better.

 

 

Blog 1: The Machine Stops

The story The Machine Stops is an amazing story written by E. M. Forster. The story takes place in the far future where Earth has become a barren wasteland. By that time, humans have retreated deep down into the underground, relying on the function of a gigantic apparatus known as Machine for all their needs and survival. Through this text, Forster seems to warn us the danger of over-reliance on technology for it can lead to the downfall of humanity as it can cause the deterioration of human mentally, socially, and physically .

Humans have pride themselves on their creativity, their knowledge, and their daringness to take chances and challenge the unknown. It is admirable that the characters of the story is able to create the omnipotent Machine, but it is this same Machine that murdered their inspirational mind and their adventurous soul.  Humans no longer centralize their wits on discovery and creativity, for they thought the Machine is perfect; instead,  they “concentrate [themselves] upon problems that she [is] certain of solving.” All the while that humans thought they are advancing, they do not realize that they are building towering walls around their minds and restricting themselves to the known. The goal is to make progress, not perfection, for things end or are lost the moment that something is perfected or completed.

Not only does the Machine caused limitations to humans mentally, it also cause physical isolation between people. The Machine has instruction manual for everything. People no longer leave their rooms for anything for everything is provided; as a result, face-to-face social activities are dying. Even the interactions between parents and children is limited for “‘[p]arents, duties of,’ said the book of the Machine, ‘ cease at the moment of birth.” The relationship between the mother, Vashti, and her son, Kuno, is an example. Despite the plate that allows them to communicate, Vashti still feels lonely in her room. Humans are social creatures and a part of what we do is physically interacting with others. Physical interactions are needed to deepen or solidify the bonds that exist between us. Furthermore, it is also a form of comfort, for we know that their is someone that is within reachable distance; otherwise, no matter how bright or how colorful the screen is, people are still alone and lonely, for in the end, it is still one person in the room.

Physical health not only relies on health food, but also exercise. The Machine provides the humans with everything that they will need, from sleep, to food, to communication, and everything else in between. This cause the humans to be slothful and and inactive; as a result, the human body is deteriorating due to the long periods of unused. In the story, people is not able to hold a book, walk, or hold out their hands for a long period of time. The “muscles…had failed [them].” Furthermore, the situation is made worse when the more physically fit children are killed and only the genes of the deteriorated are passed on. As this continues, humans will no be no more than “swaddled lump of flesh[es],” useless and unfit for survival  without the existence of the Machine.

Over-reliance on technology eventually lead to the downfall of the characters in Forster’s book, and it may be ours too if we do not heed its warning. Machine exist to better service humans and not to limit us. It is okay to rely on technology for support, but people must remember that the first and foremost is us; in other words, we are the foundations, and we need to evolve along with the technologies in order to better control it.

Reading Response 1: The Machine Stops

The “Machine Stops” was a little hard to get into as it started in the middle of story but over time, the entire situation unfolded making it more understandable.  Earth was considered uninhabitable, a desolate wasteland almost akin to a desert, and people were forced to live underground with the help of technology called “The Machine.”  As the story goes on there are several signs that the Machine is not some ordinary appliance such as its capabilities, how people treat it, and how it treats the people.

The Machine first appears as a piece of technology with a multitude of capabilities.  It plays music for people, can move people across the room without forcing them to get up, and acts as a communication device for people.  But as the story progresses, it becomes more obvious that it’s not just a tool that makes people’s lives more convenient. It decides where people live, housing them in hexagonal rooms, creates artificial air and lighting for people, several things which aid people in living underground.  It might have seemed like a utopia to the people but it was clear that they were too dependent on this Machine. They practically became incompetent since the Machine took care of their every need. When the Machine began to fail, they didn’t know how to fix it, leading to the death of many.

Even before the re-establishment of religion was implemented into the story, there were indications that people already worshipped the Machine.  When the Book of the Machine was introduced and Vashti was on the airship, she clung to it tightly along with other passengers on board. The next sign was when the airship attendant stated “How we have advanced, thanks to the Machine”and their comment was quickly repeated by Vashti and another fellow passenger.  Even the quiet hum of the Machine was enough to comfort people in times of distress. People don’t treat their computer like a god but in this story, it was evident that the Machine was viewed like one. It wasn’t taken for granted, at least, not until the later half of the story after it started failing which roused complaints from the people.  Although people treated it like a sentient being, in the end it was just a machine, one that failed to function after being overused.

As for the Machine’s interaction with the people, it initially appears to be somewhat of a caretaker to the people but it’s also possible that it wasn’t so amicable.  It constantly catered to people’s needs, such as whipping out a bed for them when needed or raising a platform to pick up a dropped item. When one of the protagonists, Kuno, finds his way to the surface illegally, the Machine deploys a robot called The Mending Apparatus to go find and recapture him.  The Mending Apparatus even kills a woman that attempted to help Kuno. It began to look like the Machine actually cared little for human life and simply wished to keep people under its rule. Other signs are not allowing Kuno to adopt children because he’s athletic and rebellious, qualities which would cause a lot of trouble for the Machine.  People often mistreat machines in real life, so the idea of a machine wanting to keep humanity under its thumb isn’t too far fetched. The real reason it didn’t annihilate humankind is possibly because it knew that it needed someone to fix it, only to realize near the end, the knowledge of repairing technology was lost forever.

On a side note, while I was reading this, the whole concept reminded me of a movie that came out two years ago called 10 Cloverfield Lane, a science fiction psychological horror film.  It involves many of the same ideas that were found in this story, an Earth that’s considered dangerous on the surface, people being forced to live underground, and even an escape to the surface through a ventilation shaft.  The biggest difference is that 10 Cloverfield Lane’s Earth is uninhabitable because (Spoiler Alert) it got invaded by aliens that try to kidnap or kill humans on sight.