Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Accumulator in H.G. Wells's The New Machiavelli

More on the ‘accumulators’ this time from Wells in his novel The New Machiavelli.The queer little twist towards metaphysics is evident and could account for its adhesive properties given a mind like Taylors. There is also mention of the denial of the validity of general laws, the concern of the chapter in which 'the new accumulator' was mentioned. 'In Search of Taylor Khan'. Quite!

This novel was published in 1911 and Elements of Metaphysics was first published in 1903 with subsequent editions. My print copy is the seventh from 1924.

I came nearer the truth of the matter as I came to realise that our philosophies differed profoundly. That isn't a very curable difference,—once people have grown up. Theirs was a philosophy devoid of FINESSE. Temperamentally the Baileys were specialised, concentrated, accurate, while I am urged either by some Inner force or some entirely assimilated influence in my training, always to round off and shadow my outlines. I hate them hard. I would sacrifice detail to modelling always, and the Baileys, it seemed to me, loved a world as flat and metallic as Sidney Cooper's cows. If they had the universe in hand I know they would take down all the trees and put up stamped tin green shades and sunlight accumulators. Altiora thought trees hopelessly irregular and sea cliffs a great mistake.... I got things clearer as time went on. Though it was an Hegelian mess of which I had partaken at Codger's table by way of a philosophical training, my sympathies have always been Pragmatist. I belong almost by nature to that school of Pragmatism that, following the medieval Nominalists, bases itself upon a denial of the reality of classes, and of the validity of general laws. The Baileys classified everything. They were, in the scholastic sense—which so oddly contradicts the modern use of the word "Realists." They believed classes were REAL and independent of their individuals. This is the common habit of all so-called educated people who have no metaphysical aptitude and no metaphysical training. It leads them to a progressive misunderstanding of the world. It was a favourite trick of Altiora's to speak of everybody as a "type"; she saw men as samples moving; her dining-room became a chamber of representatives. It gave a tremendously scientific air to many of their generalisations, using "scientific" in its nineteenth-century uncritical Herbert Spencer sense, an air that only began to disappear when you thought them over again in terms of actuality and the people one knew....

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