Lack of Interest

People see in books a “pastime”…

I started to read the original version of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, I'd read its Spanish translation years ago, I owed this to myself!  I'll quote from it what for me was a significant detail; in the fourth chapter the Time Traveler starts describing his first impressions of the eloi, the humanoid creatures he meets right after arriving to that A.D. 802,701 year version of Earth.  The third paragraph of that chapter ends with:

“The eyes were large and mild; and—this may seem egotism on my part—I fancied even that there was a certain lack of the interest I might have expected in them.”

In the following paragraph he explains the second sign of eloi's lack of interest:

“As they made no effort to communicate with me, but simply stood round me smiling and speaking in soft cooing notes to each other, I began the conversation.”

After some other clues in the fifth paragraph he asks himself:

“The question had come into my mind abruptly: were these creatures fools?”

Finally, he expresses his frustration:

“For a moment I felt that I had built the Time Machine in vain.”

I cannot say the same about the authentic time machine (what books are after all) since it lets me know that someone in the nineteenth century noticed the same I notice today looking at mankind development.  I'm aware of my imprudence considering my interpretation proof of empathy but it's clear that, as I do now, the authentic time traveler (Wells) considered the lack of interest the first sign of decline.



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