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Wednesday, 12 September, 2007

A hundred years ago, the British novelist E.M. Forster wrote in Howards End about the [automobile] as a modern invention that challenged the faint of heart. The very practical character Henry Wilcox declares that, “The motor’s come to stay. One must get about.” Margaret Schlegel, more sensitive, gets nervous about the “chickens and children” that dash out in front of the car, and afterwards must “[recapture] the sense of space which the motor had tried to rob from her.” She later reflects that this “sense of space… is the basis of all earthly beauty.”

Forster himself lived long enough to see the motor car, and even air travel, become commonplace (he died in 1970), but Margaret Schlegel surely would have shuddered to think of an age where driving is considered the mode of travel which maintains a sense of space and a connection to the earth, as opposed to flying, which disorients us on a level that motoring could never aspire to …

It is inevitable; advances in technology are always forcing us ahead into the next chapter of the future, whether we are ready for it or not … Perhaps more times than we like to admit, we are not ready. While one highly advanced part of the human brain is able to devise a machine that can fly over the ocean, another more primitive part is confused and terrified by finding itself up there …

In other words, no matter how many gadgets and toys and tools we are able to invent as a society, and no matter how fast and efficient our modes of communication and transportation become, as individuals we might not be so easily modernized.

Pamela Newton, The Huffington Post
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