Sunday, May 31, 2009

When the Machine Stops...

Location: Garden

It was a perfect Richmond weekend: warm and not humid. We even had rain, during the night. Nothing will be this perfect again until Fall, when a different sort of beauty--that of what is soon to pass--appears before our eyes. I did a bit of gardening and, today, built a stretch of fence.

The hot months ahead may be a good time to park oneself in front of a keyboard and monitor, but I'm going to resist temptation. Lately, when I log on to Second Life I notice the same folks online. Every time I log in, they are there. Metaplace is too new for this, for now. Give it time.

What would these folks do if Linden Lab closed its doors? If you are one of these always-online folk, be it in SL, Facebook, Twitter, or somewhere else, consider some lines from E.M. Forster's magnificent, and terrifying, story "The Machine Stops" (the image is from the 1965 TV version). Read the rest of the story (or listen to it at
  • 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.
  • By her side, on the little reading-desk, was a survival from the ages of litter - one book. This was the Book of the Machine.
  • People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine.
  • By these days it was a demerit to be muscular. Each infant was examined at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed.
  • Those who still wanted to know what the earth was like had after all only to listen to some gramophone, or to look into some cinematophote.
  • But there came a day when, without the slightest warning, without any previous hint of feebleness, the entire communication-system broke down, all over the world, and the world, as they understood it, ended.
It felt good to use my muscles today, to move wood and soil and tend thing that, later this summer, will be part of our meals.

I invite you to consider how you spend your fleeting time in the world of matter. Enjoy your summer.

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