Something happened. At some point something terrible had shaken the foundations of this brave new world, now outdated and antique. And that something has turned the Engineer into a night creature that fears light and hides behind a huge block of plastic and glass... Perhaps it was Nobel with his hypocritical and arrogant will that had set the world of science onto a rat race or may be it was Hitler. It is not clear at this point, but something must have changed in the very basics of this world of ours to make it so peculiarly irrational and alien.
I suppose James felt the same way, when he decided to become a butler.
By sartoris here