A Forumla For Mass Hysteria

Robert Heinlein’s Future History Series

Book One: Methuselah’s Children

(con’t from last post)

Methuselah's ChildrenMy favorite part of this book was when the author explains that there is a mathematical formula that explains the tendency of humans to commit mass hysteria.  Given the right variables, this tendency had been proven without a doubt.

What an interesting thought to imagine that someday we could be able to explain human emotional traits in mathematical terms! I don’t necessarily believe it, but I bet there is at least a grain of possibility there, and I love the idea.

My least favorite part was when Lazarus Long, relaxing on the fantastic paradise of a planet the Family has arrived at, is feeling restless and unhappy and part of him wishes they had stayed on the previous planet and fought for their rights from the original inhabitants who kicked them off, even at risk of death. No comment that the original inhabitants had the right to kick them off, that there should be respect for this kind of “original ownership of the land”. To Lazarus, going and taking seemed to be a natural path to happiness. Or at least potential happiness. Reminds me of the havoc us white people have wreaked on and to the North American continent and its original inhabitants.

“There ought not to be anything in the whole universe that man can’t poke his nose into. That’s the way we’re built. And I assume that there’s some reason for it.” Yeesh! Gag me with manifest destiny!

Of course this goes to show, as the author even pointed out in the book, that a person has no way of looking at him or herself objectively, that it is impossible. As if he is reminding us that this work of fiction can only be taken in the context of the 1940s and 1950s, when it was written. Good reminder.

You’ve got to love this view of humanity:

“But I can tell you this…whatever the answers are, here’s one monkey that’s going to keep on climbing, and looking around him to see what he can see, as long as the tree holds out.”  (I’m starting to picture him as Charleton Heston!!)

See the next post for the last discussion of Methuselah’s Children, the first book in the Future History series by Robert A. Heinlein.

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