The Time Machine
Technology and Modernization Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be sat upon. (1.1)
We tend to focus on the Time Machine as the really important invention in this novel – and let's face it, without it this novel would just be a bunch of guys sitting around, talking about math. But we should also be on the lookout for other technology. Take these chairs, for instance: here's a perfectly good (and brief ) example of technology making people's lives more luxurious.
"Of course we have no means of staying back for any length of Time, any more than a savage or an animal has of staying six feet above the ground. But a civilized man is better off than the savage in this respect. He can go up against gravitation in a balloon, and why should he not hope that ultimately he may be able to stop or accelerate his drift along the Time-Dimension, or even turn about and travel the other way?" (1.28)
The Time Traveller's early argument is that technology sets civilized people apart because it changes their capabilities – and thus their relationship to the world around them. (If we look at the argument the other way, we might say that the civilized people aren't much different once they are without technology.)
And here I must admit that I learned very little of drains and bells and modes of conveyance, and the like conveniences, during my time in this real future. In some of these visions of Utopias and coming times which I have read, there is a vast amount of detail about building, and social arrangements, and so forth. But while such details are easy enough to obtain when the whole world is contained in one's imagination, they are altogether inaccessible to a real traveller amid such realities as I found here. [...] I was sensible of much which was unseen, and which contributed to my comfort; but save for a general impression of automatic organization, I fear I can convey very little of the difference to your mind. (5.18)
Here the Time Traveller nicely reinforces our point about technology: sometimes the really life-changing stuff goes on out of sight. This is either because it literally is out of sight (think of the sewer system, for instance) or because it's become so familiar to us that we don't see or think about it anymore. There's also a nice jab here at the utopian books being written at this time; see "Allusions" for more on that.