As a boy I loved me some H.G. Wells, especially his time machine which, to an isolated blind kid was the best thing possible even with all its prospective dangers and late Victorian caprice for children sense adults are fickle, especially disabled children, and accordingly I saw Wells had created a gizmo much like one’s untrustworthy uncle, the one you liked despite all the evidence. I think I was around eleven when I read it. And I understood it was a book about social psychology, though I didn’t have the words for such a concept. But I understood this:
“I think that at that time none of us quite believed in the Time Machine. The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men who are too clever to be believed: you never felt that you saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness.”
I had to look up lucid. I got it. Some of the smilingest adults were the most dangerous. Kids too.
Could someone cobble together for me a freedom machine? That’s what I thought.
Now I’m remembering him, that kid. Again I want the freedom machine—want it to lift up refugees and my brothers and sisters, black, disabled, women, men, children, all of them living in perpetual violence. I want them at the victory celebration when humankind looks back with triumph for we saved our people; rescued the planet. Wells again: “when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man.” We’re an aging species. Mind and strength are increasingly in short supply. Can we have gratitude? Just a little mutual tenderness?
Silly of course. I should erase everything I’ve just written. Haven’t I read too much to believe what I’m saying? Capital wraps affection; stone blunts scissors…try to be funny. Carry on. Everyone in the academy talking these days like army colonels—interrogating the subject; leveraging the problem; poring over the grid. “Jeezus, old stuffed bear, don’t reveal you’ve a heart, they’ll cut it right out of you.”