Originally Posted by Fledchen
I finished this last night, and I'm not sure what I want to say about it. I can say, for sure, that it got me thinking. I was expecting it to be mostly a tirade against dependence on technology, but it seemed to me to be more of a tirade against dependence on other people's ideas.
I am left with the weird feeling that if the story (which is an indirect experience) caused me to re-evaluate how I think about things, that these changes are somehow less valid than if I'd been led to that re-evaluation through my own direct experiences. But that seems silly and maybe a little pretentious. I can't think of anything to say about the story that doesn't seem pretentious when I read it back to myself! I think I am sorely out of practice in reading things critically.
That brings up the question of whether E. M. Forster could properly be termed a Luddite. On first sight, it seems obvious, but upon reflection, his message seems deeper than a simple tirade against technology. What he really seem to deplore is allowing technology to become our masters rather than remaining our tool.
The other aspect of The Machine Stops
that gives me pause is Forster's attitude toward religion. From what I can gather, he was an atheist, but there are passages in the story that seem to lament the loss of traditional religion. Perhaps he was similar in that respect to George Santayana, of whom someone once said that he "believes that there is no God and that Mary is His mother."*
E. M. Forster was certainly not a simple man.
* Some say Bertrand Russell was the originator of that witticism, but I can find no verification for that, and most people who quote it give as its source simply "an anonymous wit."