The horror of face-to-face contacts

E. M. Forster: The Machine Stops ISBN 978-0-141-19598-8⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ What a timely novel, I would say if that novel hadn’t been written in 1928. Instead Forster wrote a prescient book. He anticipated social networks, a service based economy, the ever growing dependency on machines, a fully transparent life and the degeneration of man’s social abilities – things we endure every day a little less than 100 years later. In Forster’s world men live in underground cities in small rooms and “the Machine” provides everything: contact to others living in an identical environment, food, books, music, medical assistance etc.

Face-to-face contact has become something bordering the obscene and parental duties are considered to end with the birth of the child. Thus says “the Machine” which is worshipped through a book of rules for all contingencies. Reading this novel now gives me awkward feeling when I reflect some of my daily interaction with others. What a deep thinker Forster was besides being a brilliant novellist!

The subject of the novel made the choice for a matching composer easy: Dmitry Shostakovich. Of course. He was a contemporary of Forster albeit he lived under the Communist rule while Forster lived in the capitalists’ capital, London. As for the piece to match the mood of the novel, something a little unhinged like the String Quartet No. 11, may be appropriate:

The mockingbird sings his defiant tune in F minor