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Posts Tagged ‘h. g. wells’

“My Ark cannot be a wide popular movement. Nor can it be a movement among people in power and authority. Ordinary people won’t understand a new world they have never seen. That needs some cultivation of the imagination, and people who find this world full of gratifications, will resist any move towards a new world. They will detest the Ark idea, they will gather round to mock and hinder it until the inundation is rolling them over and over. So how do we man the Ark? Wait a bit, Noah; what was that sentence you wrote down when you awoke? Something quintessential for the élite and something very strong and clear and simple for the masses of mankind. Did that get a little deeper into our problem?” 

– H. G. Wells, All Aboard for Ararat. 1940. Chapter 2. 

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““Who is this Walt Disney? He seems to me to be a very dangerous revolutionary. This—all of this—is underhand sedition. I’m not such a fool—. I see his point. This Donald Duck! It’s subtle but I get him. I get him. The busybody who interferes and tangles up everything. That’s the suggestion. That’s how I’m lied about. That’s what they want to say of me —if they dared. He’s even got the sailor’s cap I wear at times. The way the forehead is shaped! Exactly the same! The grave look he gives people before he does something decisive. It is insidious. It is abominable. It is deliberate. This Disney ought to be shot. Where does he work? Where is he to be found?”

“These films were made before the Group existed,” said Norvel, recovering slowly from his amazement. “I don’t know where Disney is. Probably he is quite old by now. He was doing his work before the Last War. I don’t know if he is still alive. Maybe he is still making films, happily unconscious.”

Autocracy was making Norvel a facile liar. He had as a matter of fact been talking to Disney three days before, and discussing a scheme for a great series of operas with him. But he saw no reason why Rud should intervene in these matters.”

– H. G. Wells, The Holy Terror. 1939. 4.2.4. 

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“We don’t want a capitulation,” said Rud. “You see, Reedly, we don’t want any excuse for an assembly of the old governments on our side. … From our point of view the war to end war can have no formal end. We’ve got controlled shipping, amalgamated air forces, pooled finance, consolidated news-services, a common uniform. We want to keep them common for evermore. But the day we proclaim Victory and Peace the diplomatists and nationalists will come creeping out of their funk-holes again with their flags and claims and bills on each other and all that sort of thing. Versailles all over again.”

– H. G. Wells, The Holy Terror. 1939. 3.2.7.

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“I have come out of the deeps beyond space and time to look again at this little planet I have visited since its beginning. I have seen life clambering out of drifting slime towards consciousness and will. I have watched the ascent of your species to the dawn of understanding and the beginnings of power. I care for you, and now I am impatient with you. For I see plainly that I overrated your intelligence, that you have blundered into knowledge and opportunity, and that you do not know how to grasp your knowledge nor how to realize your opportunities. Individually and incidentally you can be bright creatures but collectively you are a feeble folk. Time marches on and you trifle with your lives. You realize neither the dangers nor the possibilities of human life. You fail to organize, you fail to educate. Everywhere the world falls into disorder for the want of the mental leadership such people as you here, pretend to supply…

Time marches on. The ingenuity of your race, working without coordination or foresight, produces one disconnected invention after another, so that mechanical Power grows in your world like a cancer. In quite a little while now, in a few decades at most, it will be possible for any small body of desperate men to poison your whole atmosphere, sweep your world bare with infections or blow your planet to pieces. You here will do nothing to anticipate and prevent that. When the catastrophe comes maybe it will still find Camford dressed up in its gowns and its Gothic, performing its age-old function of keeping education within limits and obstructing the growth of any controlling intelligence in the world.

Why am I saying these things here to you in Camford? Because I have come to like this breed of mankind. Because you represent the limits of its education. Because you stand both at its head and in its way. You who are assembled here today constitute a typical centre of education. And deliberately you ignore the fact that human life is mental. The essential thing in human life is education, the growth of a common mind and will. If mankind fails it will be through the failure of its teachers, the weakness of its schools, the obstinacy, the wilful obstruction of its universities. Cannot you realize so plain a thing as that? It is appalling that you here are so central and so important to the human future, but you are. Outsiders cannot do anything if you resist. You are too well entrenched. You are feeble in innovation but invincible in resistance. Your littleness here has blocked the education of the English and blighted the educational development of the rest of the world through a century of opportunity, and still your predominance is unchallenged. You—and your sister imitations throughout the world—have monopolized the best of the youth of each generation, because there was nowhere else for it to go for instruction. Monopolized you have, and mistaught and marred. Maybe presently there will be mundane voices to echo mine, and maybe then you may change your note, but will you change your spirit? Can you change the spirit of this place? This old, this weakly lovely place? This dreadful place?

Surely even you for all your elaborately cultivated affectations and self-protections, must know—reluctantly and secretly indeed—but still you know it—that there can be no escape for your world, for all mankind, from the ages of tragic confusion ahead of you, except through so heroic an ordering of knowledge, so valiant a beating out of opinions, such a refreshment of teaching and such an organization of brains as will constitute a real and living world university, head, eyes and purpose for Man. That is the primary need of your species now. It is your world’s primary want. It must come now—if it ever is to come. Disintegration and decay wait for no one. They wait for nothing. Plainly before you now—I cannot believe you blind to it for all your refusal to see—is the ultimate frustration of the promise of mankind, defeat and an end. Have you no intimations of the enormity of your default here? Will you make no stir to save knowledge and thought before undisciplined ignorance destroys itself with its own machines? I who go to and fro outside space and time have seen and see. There is no salvation for races that will not save themselves. Half the stars in the sky are the burning rubbish of worlds that might have been.”

– H. G. Wells, The Camford Visitation. 1937. Chapter 6.

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“Listen for a moment to me! Consider what you are. Consider what we are. Consider what a man is before you marvel at his ineptitudes of will. Face the accepted facts. Here is a creature not ten thousand generations from the ape, his ancestor. Not ten thousand. And that ape again, not a score of thousands from the monkey, his forebear. A man’s body, his bodily powers, are just the body and powers of an ape, a little improved, a little adapted to novel needs. That brings me to my point. CAN HIS MIND AND WILL BE ANYTHING BETTER? For a few generations, a few hundreds at most, knowledge and wide thought have flared out on the darknesses of life…. But the substance of man is ape still. He may carry a light in his brain, but his instincts move in the darkness. Out of that darkness he draws his motives.”

“Or fails to draw them,” said Sir Richmond.

“Or fails…. And that is where these new methods of treatment come in. We explore that failure. Together. What the psychoanalyst does-and I will confess that I owe much to the psychoanalyst—what he does is to direct thwarted, disappointed and perplexed people to the realities of their own nature. Which they have been accustomed to ignore and forget. They come to us with high ambitions or lovely illusions about themselves, torn, shredded, spoilt. They are morally denuded. Dreams they hate pursue them; abhorrent desires draw them; they are the prey of irresistible yet uncongenial impulses; they succumb to black despairs. The first thing we ask them is this: ‘What else could you expect?’”

“What else could I expect?” Sir Richmond repeated, looking down on him. “H’m!”

“The wonder is not that you are sluggish, reluctantly unselfish, inattentive, spasmodic. The wonder is that you are ever anything else…. Do you realize that a few million generations ago, everything that stirs in us, everything that exalts human life, self-devotions, heroisms, the utmost triumphs of art, the love—for love it is—that makes you and me care indeed for the fate and welfare of all this round world, was latent in the body of some little lurking beast that crawled and hid among the branches of vanished and forgotten Mesozoic trees? A petty egg-laying, bristle-covered beast it was, with no more of the rudiments of a soul than bare hunger, weak lust and fear…. People always seem to regard that as a curious fact of no practical importance. It isn’t: it’s a vital fact of the utmost practical importance. That is what you are made of. Why should you expect—because a war and a revolution have shocked you—that you should suddenly be able to reach up and touch the sky?”

“H’m!” said Sir Richmond. “Have I been touching the sky!”

“You are trying to play the part of an honest rich man.”

“I don’t care to see the whole system go smash.”

“Exactly,” said the doctor, before he could prevent himself.

“But is it any good to tell a man that the job he is attempting is above him—that he is just a hairy reptile twice removed—and all that sort of thing?”

“Well, it saves him from hoping too much and being too greatly disappointed. It recalls him to the proportions of the job. He gets something done by not attempting everything. … And it clears him up. We get him to look into himself, to see directly and in measurable terms what it is that puts him wrong and holds him back. He’s no longer vaguely incapacitated. He knows.”

“That’s diagnosis. That’s not treatment.”

“Treatment by diagnosis. To analyze a mental knot is to untie it.”

“You propose that I shall spend my time, until the Commission meets, in thinking about myself. I wanted to forget myself.”

“Like a man who tries to forget that his petrol is running short and a cylinder missing fire…. No. Come back to the question of what you are,” said the doctor. “A creature of the darkness with new lights. Lit and half-blinded by science and the possibilities of controlling the world that it opens out. In that light your will is all for service; you care more for mankind than for yourself. You begin to understand something of the self beyond your self. But it is a partial and a shaded light as yet; a little area about you it makes clear, the rest is still the old darkness—of millions of intense and narrow animal generations…. You are like someone who awakens out of an immemorial sleep to find himself in a vast chamber, in a great and ancient house, a great and ancient house high amidst frozen and lifeless mountains—in a sunless universe. You are not alone in it. You are not lord of all you survey. Your leadership is disputed. The darkness even of the room you are in is full of ancient and discarded but quite unsubjugated powers and purposes…. They thrust ambiguous limbs and claws suddenly out of the darkness into the light of your attention. They snatch things out of your hand, they trip your feet and jog your elbow. They crowd and cluster behind you. Wherever your shadow falls, they creep right up to you, creep upon you and struggle to take possession of you. The souls of apes, monkeys, reptiles and creeping things haunt the passages and attics and cellars of this living house in which your consciousness has awakened….””

– H. G. Wells, The Secret Places of the Heart. The Macmillan Company, 1922. 1.4. 

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“Our dominant impression of things Russian is an impression of a vast irreparable breakdown. The great monarchy that was here in 1914, the administrative, social, financial, and commercial systems connected with it have, under the strains of six years of incessant war, fallen down and smashed utterly. Never in all history has there been so great a débâcle before. The fact of the Revolution is, to our minds, altogether dwarfed by the fact of this downfall. By its own inherent rottenness and by the thrusts and strains of aggressive imperialism the Russian part of the old civilised world that existed before 1914 fell, and is now gone. The peasant, who was the base of the old pyramid, remains upon the land, living very much as he has always lived. Everything else is broken down, or is breaking down. Amid this vast disorganisation an emergency Government, supported by a disciplined party of perhaps 150,000 adherents—the Communist Party—has taken control. It has—at the price of much shooting—suppressed brigandage, established a sort of order and security in the exhausted towns, and set up a crude rationing system.

It is, I would say at once, the only possible Government in Russia at the present time. It is the only idea, it supplies the only solidarity, left in Russia. But it is a secondary fact. The dominant fact for the Western reader, the threatening and disconcerting fact, is that a social and economic system very like our own and intimately connected with our own has crashed.”

– H. G. Wells, Russia in the Shadows. First published by Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd., London, 1920. Chapter 1.

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“He stands by one of the guns of the submarine in an attack upon some wretched ocean tramp. He realizes that the war he wages is no heroic attack on pride or predominance, but a mere murdering of traffic. He sees the little ship shelled, the wretched men killed and wounded, no tyrants of the seas but sailormen like himself; he sees their boats smashed to pieces. Mostly such sinkings are done at dawn or sundown, under a level light which displays a world of black lines and black silhouettes asway with the slow heaving and falling of coldly shining water.”

– H. G. Wells, The Undying Fire. Cassell & Co, 1919. 5.4.

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