On “Looking Backward: 2000 to 1887” by Edward Bellamy

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about “The Sleeper Awakes.” At some point in that book, Graham (the protagonist) compares his situation to that described by Bellamy; and earlier in the book, when he is sound asleep and has only been asleep for a few decades at most, we see his friends talking about the same thing. Curious as I was upon reading that name I chose to google it. (I don’t quite remember exactly what I googled but it was probably something like “Bellamy Socialist Utopia Sleeper.”) I found out that there was a book by an Edward Bellamy called “Looking Backward: 2000 to 1887” in which a man sleeps for somewhere slightly above a century and, you guessed it, wakes up in a world vastly different from the one he slept in. I downloaded that book right away and made a mental note to read it after finishing “The Sleeper Awakes.”

A few hours ago, I finished reading “Looking Backward” and I thought I might as well write about it and throw in a few words about the similarities and differences between the two books. There are SPOILERS AHEAD so proceed at your own risk.  … 


Entropy of life

I know it’s kind of a weird title. I will promptly explain it. Have you ever been in one of those situations where you went ahead and did something without thinking twice only to later regret doing it and spend the next few days brooding over different ways to deal with all possible undesirable consequences of that course of action?

We often see situations like these in movies. I considered adding examples here from Harry Potter or The Flash or Infinity War but then I decided against it because I didn’t want to post any potential spoilers and because not everyone would be familiar with those scenes. Instead let me use a very general example: Something goes wrong and the protagonist(s) considers possible courses of action to take. In short, they form a plan that sounds completely nuts but they decide to do it anyway because it’s “the only way.” And all that while you’re just sitting there hoping that they’d see things your way because ot you there’s clearly another and better way but they can’t seem to think of it. Anyways, they go ahead and execute their plan only to screw up further and get themselves into a situation much worse than before and then the cycle starts again (or maybe not.)

Now that I am done typing that stupid example, I realize that it’s too general to be of any use. So let me use the example of time travel. Let’s say you have a regret. Years pass and you cannot get over it. Say you gain access to a time machine. You go back in time to fix it only to realize that you created a new world that’s equally undesirable. You try to figure out the point in time where this new world of yours went haywire and try to fix that. Again you screw shit up. Eventually you realized that you’ve messed it up to the point where it cannot be fixed. (There are actually movies about exactly this.)

Have you ever met someone and gotten to know them really well only to end up wishing you’d never met them in the first place and thinking about how your life would have been so much better if you hadn’t? Or maybe you’ve at some point said something that you immediately wanted to take back and so you keep on thinking about different ways to explain yourself should someone bring it up again and you can’t help fearing that someone would hold it against you. But anything you say to cover it up could only make matters worse.

In short, what I mean to say is that things always get worse with time. The more the time passes the greater the number of things in your life that went wrong, the more secrets you have and the more people there are that know your secrets, the greater the number of people in your life that you watch out for e.t.c. and every lame attempt to fix any of it only creates more problems. Life only gets messier and messier and there’s no way to clean up that mess.