by Nic Olson
Had I been a literary man I might, perhaps, have moralized upon the futility of all ambition. But as it was, the thing that struck me with keenest force was the enormous waste of labour to which this sombre wilderness of rotting paper testified.
-H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, Chapter 11, p131
We can walk through walls. When I was in grade seven my friend told me that his older brother learned this in university. Physics class told him that it was technically possible for us to walk through walls if we lined up our particles perfectly with the gaps of the particles of the wall or door or window. Physics is mysticism. I would maybe ask a different question. Why bother walking through walls when we can teleport anywhere we want? To take our physical being, the particles that make us up, and come up with some wavelength that could capture them, and send them far away to the destination they wish. But does such an extraction of physical being also carry with it the soul of a person, or does that get sucked up in the mass of all the rest of the souls swirling in the atmosphere? Science fiction becomes real, just ask the inventors of Skype. ‘The Jetsons’ are science fiction.
Then you may ask, if you were discussing such topics with people with scientific minds, unlike my rotting philosophical mind, if you would rather be teleported to be able to see who you want when you want, or if you would rather travel through time. The moral implications of time travel are different than the business implications of teleportation. Undoubtedly institutions such as the Canadian Government would quickly shut down open discussion about things such as teleportation because dialogue with educated professionals is apparently unhealthy, and teleportation would make obsolete Canada’s fastest growing source of income, also known as ‘The Tar Sands of Our World’s Demise.’ As titled by me. But I’m sure in the vast expanses of the Canadian North, the oil companies and Harper would be able to find some rare mineral that a teleportation device would require to run, market that and start to ban discussion on time travel, which most level-headed people would want to use to escape the natural-resource raped present in which we find ourselves.
Later, when I was in grade nine, I learned firsthand about time travel when I starred in the White City School production of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. I was the Time Traveller. I wore Chuck Taylors, my time machine was a wheelchair with a silver-spray painted lever and a laptop. Once, at the start of a scene walking with the Eloi named Weena, my futuristic wireless microphone provided a shriek of feedback into the ears of the audience. I grimaced and pretended that nothing happened, but have always looked back upon this occasion in regret that I didn’t improvise and say something like, “There are many unsourced and unpleasant noises in this future time.” At the end of the play, my grandparents complimented me by saying, “You sure had to memorize a lot of lines,” instead of what I was hoping for: “You sure acted the hell out of that play, Nic.” I still think I could have done better. If only I had a time machine to go back and restart my acting career.
As for the previous question, I would opt for teleportation. My curiosity as to what goes on in the future is less than my desire to see the current world as I wish. The current world, something I do not know enough about, still needs to be properly discovered before I can learn about the future. The same logic applies to my recent selection of books. We can now only hope that when teleportation is inevitably invented (this inevitability based on ‘The Jetsons’ science fiction logic) that the Government ceases to hide facts of the past and the present like climate change and the ice age, possibly coinciding phenomena, to save an industry that is killing us all. Either that or we can focus on a time machine, travel far into the future or past to escape a present that we seemingly cannot change.
While biking home last night I encountered a train. It was a long train. I saw and heard it coming, pedalled as hard as I could with the cool air burning my lungs, but the striped reflective arm of the railroad crossing came down like the fist of God. Would it have been better for me to own a time machine to go back to leave five minutes earlier, or to have a teleportation device to leave exactly when I wanted to? A time machine suggests more of an escape route masked with scientific intentions. A teleportation device is not as pretentious in suggesting simple, expedient, clever transportation that says, “It is nice to be where you want to be.”
Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.
-H.G. Wells, The Time Machine, p99, Chapter 7