The Machine Stops

The Machine Stops’ is a science fiction short story (12,300 words) by E.M. Forster – first published in 1909.          

Caramany is a commune in the Pyrenees-Orientales department in southern France.   13h century – watercolour/gouache 20200607_134303‘The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth.     Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard room, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent global Machine.      Travel is permitted, but is unpopular and rarely necessary.    Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine with which people conduct their only activity the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge”. 

Saorge is a commune in the Alps-Maritimes department in southeastern France – 14th century. 20200609_122845I highly recommend that people read this novella.     To say that it is prophetic is an understatement….and remember it was first published in 1909. 

Carrieres-sur-Sein  a commune in the Ile-de-France region in north-central France. – watercolour/gouache 13708331_10154243834580396_2480180553671285849_oI have chosen to show sketches from some of the ancient villages I have had the good fortune to spend time in.

They remind me of where we have come from…..and illustrate it wasn’t so long ago that we humans lived without electricity let alone smart phones and computers!    

Caramany – Southern France – watercolour/gouache 20200604_122355These places remind me of the importance of Community.      

The very existence of such towns and villages is based on communities sharing customs and working together – passing down knowledge from one generation to another, from learned experience. 

Caramany Southern France.  – watercolour20200520_182835The history of these villages and towns teach us everything we need to know about sustainable living and much more. 

We have seen more changes during the past fifty years than in the past five hundred years, and the pace of change continues to speed forward, fuelled by greed.     

Lock Down has taught us (I hope) that we don’t need to charge through life…..that we can and should stop to smell the roses.      That using our hands and creative abilities is key to mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing.  

 Stay well, stay safe and keep all creative juices flowing.


Janet 🙂







29 thoughts on “The Machine Stops

  1. Judith

    I think the 2020 “lockdown” has brought a lot of important benefits to many people. So much depends on attitude. For my husband and me, life hasn’t really changed. He’s an essential worker, I’m a home-body who doesn’t get out often, and so our lives have gone on much like usual during this pandemic. It’s been interesting, of course, to observe the reactions of others — family members, friends, acquaintances. I have loved the increased availability of cultural events online — more operas, more intimate postings from the symphony, more art classes, more lectures, more tours. That’s the one area where life has been different for us. We missed several symphony performances because they were cancelled; our art clubs haven’t been meeting and a few student art shows were cancelled, too. I will check out “The Machine Stops”. Sci-fi isn’t a genre I read often, but at the moment I’m finishing up “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, one of the monthly picks for a classic book club I belong to. (It’s a Facebook group. Would you want an invitation?” Science-fiction can give us some interesting insights.

    I love all the colorful paintings you’ve posted. Your colors are always so bright and vibrant, so very much alive! Your paintings are truly a delight to see.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Lockdown hasn’t changed my life much at all..except having to cancel my April teaching course in Portugal and then the visit to my son and his partner on the farm (although I did enjoy both trips VIRTUALLY).
      Please do send me an invitation for your book club. I am a veracious reader and usually have at least two books going at any one time…however book clubs introduce me to. books I might not otherwise have come across.

      Hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend. It’s a beautiful day here…and so have just enjoyed my morning walk…now back in the studio. Janet:)

      1. Judith

        I’ve now discovered Librivox — free recordings of classic books that are in the public domain. Now my husband (who isn’t much of a reader) is listening to Dr. Moreau’s Island with me — and thoroughly enjoying it. We’ll finish it tonight and then start on Treasure Island tomorrow — my dear childhood favorite! I can’t wait. With the book club, each month there are 5 classics selected. We choose one (or more) to read and discuss. It’s really a good group, and I’ve made lots of friends through participating.

  2. Teagan R. Geneviene

    Janet, these beautiful paintings feel like an awakening to me this morning — a rebirth of color to the world. I love how the shapes lead my eyes upward.
    Early science fiction is fun, even when the topic is serious. Thanks for mentioning this short story. Hummingbird hugs!

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you so much Teagan for your lovely comment. ‘The Machine Stops’ is a perfect short read for now particularly. Because we are in the life we are living…it’s something difficult to see what’s really going on….This book is certainly food for thought and even a wake up call. Thinking of you and Crystal in your lovely new home and sending hummingbird hugs. Janet XXX

    1. Jane Owen

      I Have known many artists through the years but nobody has EVER given me the inspiration before to ever make me want to dabble in the painting myself, not until I saw your paintings for the first time and you encouraged me so after my hospital visit I must get on it. Yes there have been many many changes in 50 years. Do you remember the power cuts we used to get in the U.K? We had many of them when I was growing up. Will be in hospital next week for a few minor surgeries but will look forward to your emails. Hopefully I won’t be too sick to read them. All the best to you Janet. 🥰

      1. janetweightreed10 Post author

        Good morning Jane. I was living in the States during the 70s when the black outs were happening…and. so missed them.
        I am concerned to hear that you are going into hospital. I hope it’s nothing too serious and that you are out and about very soon and even painting:). Stay well – I will be thinking about you. Janet XX

    2. janetweightreed10 Post author

      I am quite sure that you would love them. and the light is positively amazing, which is one of the many reasons the south of France has attracted so many artists over the centuries. Hope you enjoy a lovely weekend. Janet :)X

  3. Jane Owen

    That’s right I remember you telling me that. I came to the States in the mid 80s. You were probably back in the U.K. Around the time I arrived here from London. Don’t be too concerned about my hospital visits. Gallstones, kidney stones and constant chronic pain from 2 failed back surgery’s so having some exploratory surgery on that too. I seem to have inherited my mums physical problems the older I get. As long as there are no complications I should be home a few days after surgery. Looking forward to reading about your Wales virtual trip. I LOVE Wales. Both my parents are from there. Hope your relaxing this weekend. 🥰

  4. davidjrogersftw

    Janet, I tried to get smart-alecky and take a short cut and send you a response on my ancient phone, but it came out as a mere “like.” How can I merely like this post that is lovely in so many ways–the watercolors that are striking and pleasant, the book you describe, your text, and the qutote from Christie that is profound and hopeful. Thank you.

    Weather beautiful here and son and grandchidren coming to spend time with us in a park at two. I have the feeling that your good mood of many months now continues and that your spirit is in great health. I know it will continue to be for a long time. Best, David

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning dear David, and thank you for this lovely comment.
      Yes I am feeling very well in body and spirit and do hope the same is true for your back.
      I hope you enjoyed a wonderful visit with your son and grandchildren…..Weather good this side of the Pond and everything looks so beautiful…..Just back from my morning walk.

      Best to you and Don – have a lovely and creative day.
      Janet X

  5. Jet Eliot

    I’m a big fan of E.M. Forster’s but have not read this novella, thanks for the recommendation, Janet. I am also a big fan of your art, and really enjoyed this series of villages. I always challenge myself to pick out my top two paintings in your lovely posts, and my two favorites here are the first one with the blue stairway and the fourth one with the pastel staircase. Lovely to be here.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thank you very much Jet. Do pick up ‘The Machine Stops’ – it’s quite amazing and to think it was written one hundred years ago…positively incredible. I am also a fan of E. M. Forster but this is different than any of the other books I have read…..I am hoping that the virus will slow things down, but only time will tell….Thinking of you and Athena and hoping that things are progressing. Janet

  6. snowbird

    Oh, the pace of change makes my head hurt, sustainable living and slowing down is certainly the way to go. I do hope the majority of people don’t dash back to normal, whatever that looks like. That short story sounds interesting, goodness, to think it was written almost a hundred years ago, I must check it out. Love the quote and your beautiful

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Thanks Dina. I really think you would like ‘The Machine Stops’ – it’s quite amazing. I do hope that people don’t rush back to the way it was before the virus…although judging by those queuing to shop for rubbish. I doesn’t give me too much hope. One step at a time. Enjoy your beautiful garden, and I will continue to enjoy my daily walks by the river. XXX


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