Ahead of His Time

Filed under:Authors,Blogging,Cool — posted by Anwyn on April 29, 2008 @ 2:38 pm

“There are to be forty interlocking committees sitting every day and they’ve got a wonderful gadget–I was shown the model last time I was in town–by which the findings of each committee print themselves off in their own little compartment on the Analytical Notice-Board every half hour. Then, that report slides itself into the right position where it’s connected up by little arrows with all the relevant parts of the other reports. A glance at the Board shows you the policy of the whole Institue actually taking shape under your own eyes. There’ll be a staff of at least twenty experts at the top of the building working this Notice Board in a room rather like the Tube control rooms. It’s a marvellous gadget. The different kinds of business all come out in the Board in different coloured lights. It must have cost half a million. They call it a Pragmatometer.”

–C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

All the relevant parts connected to all the other relevant parts by little … links. The major difference, of course, is that the Notice Board was to be run by an Institute whose purpose was to manipulate, gull, lull, and damn the population, while the internet really is the embodiment of the old sixties radical slogan: Power to the people. When anybody net-savvy can link and pipe up their opinion, you really can see the views of vast swaths of people taking shape “under your own eyes.” It’s a marvellous gadget indeed.


  1. Interesting book, isn’t it? I read it last fall. Little over-the-top, but certainly still relevant.

    Comment by see-dubya — April 29, 2008 @ 2:44 pm

  2. Yes, yes, and yes. The older I get the more derision I have for Jane’s reaction to Ransom and for some of his words on marriage. Other than that, though, it’s an appallingly chilling vision of what happens to worshippers who don’t know (or claim not to know) what they’re worshipping.

    Comment by Anwyn — April 29, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace