H. G. Wells

From: Don Klemencic (klemencc@sgi.net)
Date: Sat Mar 04 2000 - 22:17:18 MST

H. G. Wells had to be at least a great proto-extropian. He didn't talk of
personal immortality, but perhaps he lived at too early a time for that. But
most of the other ideas are there. I wonder how many people he influenced?
I'm not certain whether I saw his motion picture Things to Come (from his
book, Shape of Things to Come) before or after reading Arthur C. Clarke's
Profiles of the Future, but I think it was first.

The final scene-the dialogue between Cabal and Passworthy-had to have
infected many people with the meme. By going over my videotape about fifty
times I pieced it together for anybody here who doesn't have a copy, or
perhaps hasn't heard it. Raymond Massey is masterful as both John Cabal and
his great-grandson, Oswald Cabal. You owe it to yourself to get the tape.

Cabal's daughter and Passworthy's son have just been fired off in a capsule
to circle the moon-in the face of a mob led by the luddite, Theotocopolis,
portrayed by Cedric Hardwick. Cabal and Passworthy are looking up at the
night sky. Cabal points up:


CABAL: There! There they go! That faint gleam of light.

PASSWORTHY: I feel that what we've done is monstrous.

CABAL: What they've done is magnificent.

PASSWORTHY: Will they come back?

CABAL: Yes, and go again and again, until the landing is made and the moon
is conquered. This is only a beginning.

PASSWORTHY: But if they don't come back-my son and your daughter! What of
that, Cabal?

CABAL: Then, presently, others will go.

PASSWORTHY: O God! Is there ever to be an age of happiness? Is there never
to be any rest?

CABAL: Rest enough for the individual man, too much and too soon and we
call it death. But for man no rest and no ending. He must go on-conquest
beyond conquest. First this little planet and its winds and waves, and then
all the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets about
him, and, at last, out across immensity to the stars! And when he has
conquered all the deeps of space and all the mysteries of time-still, he
will be beginning!

PASSWORTHY: But we're such little creatures! Poor humanity's so fragile-so
weak-little-little animals!

CABAL: Little animals. And if we're no more than animals, we must snatch
each little scrap of happiness and live and suffer and pass-mattering no
more than all the other animals do or have done. It is this-or that! All the
universe or nothing! Which shall it be, Passworthy? Which shall it be?


Raymond Massey delivers his lines staring at the sky with an expression of
fervor. As he says "still, he will be beginning!" his eyelids drop and the
expression changes to ecstasy. Hearing those words the first time-"still, he
be beginning!"-I felt my mind expanding. I felt a kind of intellectual joy,
and the thought in my mind could only be described as something like "Yes!
Yes!" That was a meme executed by a master. Hook, line and sinker!

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