The Eloi and the Morlock

Reading Pierre Bourdieu last night, after looking thru ”The Time Machine” and “Fahrenheit 451″ yesterday.

“In the case of artists and writers, we find that the literary field is contained within the field of power where it occupies a dominated position. (In common and much less adequate parlance: artists and writers, or intellectuals more generally, are a ‘dominated fraction of the dominant class.’)” Bourdieu, Pierre. (1992). ”An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology” (p.104).

Wells ends ”The Time Machine” with a pessimistic vision of the future, more optimistic though than he probably considered: “And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers – shrivelled now, and brown and flat and brittle – to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man” (p. 141), for “The Eloi, like the Carlovingian kings, had decayed to a mere beautiful futility” (p. 89).

In “On Television,” we were struck by this Bourdieu thought: “There is nothing more difficult to convey than reality in all its ordinariness” (p. 21). Certainly not when you’ve got less than a minute to convey. Bradbury summarized in fiction the same power and effects of television that Bourdieu discusses in “On Television,” toward the end of Fahrenheit 451, in the scene where the police, unable to find the real Montag in the attention-span-time-requirement of the evening news, settle for an innocent, unknown citizen, and the television reports they’ve got Montag, while the real Montag is now uselessly free.

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