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Ignorance is Bliss

Remember the good old days when we were projected to evolve into separate human races—the elite, creative, beautiful ones and the hideous, primal, servile type? I’m referring, of course, to H.G. Wells’ classic The Time Machine. I read the Moby Dick illustrated and abridged version when I was six or seven, and just remembering the drawings is enough to make me want some chocolate. But back when Mr. Wells was attacking pristine notebooks with inksticks, such things seemed possible. We were in a scientific age. Life was progressing. Peace was just beyond our boldly projected fingertips.

Then the World Wars came and shattered the illusion.

Have no fear, friends. Such days have reappeared on humanity’s horizon. According to Dr. Oliver Curry, an expert at some school, Mr. Wells’ vision will become reality in a scant 100,000 years. I have but one problem with his claim. It assumes progress.

A brief scan of this week’s news might convince him otherwise. Consider the webizens who watched a boy commit suicide live online. And the father who thinks the webhost failed in his responsibility.

Or how about the report predicting the US’s fall from global dominance will bring a return of territorial warfare among the rising powers of the world. Seriously, that almost excites me. It would be like living England during that tiny era of military confrontation with France. We have never in our lifetimes seriously considered the possibility of substantial map-rewriting. The possibility of full-scale war over pieces of property is stuff that happens in lore and parts of the map we never learned to read in the first place. I’m assuming most of you are in a demographic similar to my own, as you are the most frequent visitors of my site. Even those of you who experienced the true hype of Cold War hysteria didn’t really think about this kind of claim. We’re not talking about idealogical annihilation. We’re talking about armies blatantly attacking regions in order to draw them under their mantle of power. Something like what Russia was doing in Georgia, but between countries both of whose capitals have been heard of before (here’s looking at you, Vlady). It’s the Crusades all over again! Oh, and we even have a British Lord imprisoned in a foreign land.

Or my personal favorite—pirates. We quite literally have pirates sailing the high seas and outrunning royal navy ships to hold crews and cargo ransom. They’re establishing pirate cities with extravagant lifestyles. The pirates become local heroes and generate their own economies and codes of conduct. Lizzie knew what she was doing when she knighted you, Francis. You, sir, were a trend-setter.

And just when you thought it had reached an anachronistic apogee, we find rebel clans attacking the pirates.

We have not learned from recorded history. Now we get another go at it.

Just don’t tell Dr. Curry. It will ruin his next 100,000 years.


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7 Comments

JJ, I always enjoy reading you opine. Apparently we have already done some map re-writing that I was previously unaware of. Did you know that we have more than 50 states now?

November 23, 2008 (2:50 am)

wait, did you read Moby dick as an illustrated classic or The Time Machine as an illustrated classic. This is confusing to me.

November 23, 2008 (4:09 am)

@Teets: Please enlighten me. I, too, am unaware.@Josh: There was a line of classics that were abridged and illustrated for young readers. They were published under the Moby Dick label. Ironically, I don't think they ever produced the work that spawned their name.

November 23, 2008 (1:54 pm)

58 states per last count. I think there were talks of annexing parts of Canada and Mexico. Ok, so I made up that part.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpGH02DtIws

November 25, 2008 (11:32 am)

Also that future is very ‘Brave New World.’

Although that was more construction than evolution. Still.

November 27, 2008 (10:23 am)

@Mel: Brave New World was more of a graduated system, though, not such a polarization. BNW struck me as more of an acknowledgment of a societal structure already more or less in place, as opposed to Wells’s vision of completely different species.

And I think the construction/evolution distinction is valid and vital.

December 10, 2008 (2:34 pm)

Russia was not trying to annex. We just needed to clarify some things with our very pro-American neighbor. Wait, maybe we were just reminding the US that we are still around. I am all for time machines, though; and it doesn't matter how long it's gonna take.

February 6, 2009 (11:29 pm)
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