The h2g2 Post: 07.05.18

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Posted: 7th May 2018

Writing Into the Future

English instructional manual from the future

Back in 1939, a rather obsessive linguist named John P Harrington designed a way of teaching English to the future. You see, the blowhards back in 1939 insisted on leaving a time capsule to be opened 5,000 years from then. Unfortunately, somebody had already figured out that by that time, the English language would probably be deader than a doornail, possibly due to teenagers. Anyway, Harrington said, 'No problem! I'll leave foolproof instructions. After all, I'm a comparative linguist, and the smartest person on my block.' You can see some of the illustrations here. We thought they were pretty funny.

The messages written down by famous Earth persons at the time are kind of funny, too. Albert Einstein wrote this:

'…. people living in different countries kill each other at irregular time intervals, so that also for this reason any one who thinks about the future must live in fear and terror. … I trust that posterity will read these statements with a feeling of proud and justified superiority.'

Thomas Mann wrote something, but it was as incomprehensible as everything else Mann said, so we'll omit it. Basically, he seemed to think that civilisation was a failed experiment. Others wrote similar things. In other words, they wanted to say 'hi' to the future, but even Einstein couldn't for the life of him think of anything intelligent to say. They babbled a bit, buried the capsule, and hoped for the best.
Now, folks, we have the internet. We can keep talking to the future. That's what we do, every day. Oh, sure, 99% of the internet is talking to the present: hey, look at this, it's so five-minutes-from-now, buy this, I need your money, get outraged, it's today's hottest scandal! But hidden among the clickbait, down where the pixels wiggle their toes in the sand at the end of the information pool, there are stirrings. Archives. Things found, examined, commented on, refiled. Things stored away, squirrel-like, for the future to find. When it's ready. When people get over the 'me-myself-and-I-right-this-minute-oh-wow' mentality and start thinking again. When that time comes, children, we will be ready, with going-on-twenty-years'-worth of thoughts that just might be useful to someone.

' Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.' Ecclesiastes 11:1. End of sermon on 'why we write'.

What do we have for you this week?
  • The world outside the four walls this Editor is getting so tired of: exotic and not-so-exotic and just plain cute, plus breathtaking. Let the photographers and the artist know you appreciated.
  • Humour to lift the spirits. If you don't need it, okay. But some of us could use a laugh.
  • Fiction! Freewayriding has a clever little story you gardeners will love – plus a dream story that makes us glad we're not in his head. (We have enough problems with our own.)
  • Opposites
  • Quizzes to make you scratch your head. A literary find that may just make you wonder. About something. Oh, and yes, there's a cat in here. Find it.
  • A really, really high-toned, superior-type cinema review by Awix. For once, there are no superheroes, supervillains, giant Japanese whatsits, or Jason Statham bicycle-and-machete stunts involved. Just really high-class, intellectual moviemaking. Awix said he did it just for me. I love the title.
  • Reports on the Guide Editors' doings. This is good: we need to know where they are at all times. Otherwise, they might be up to mischief. Galaxy Babe and SashaQ were getting together over cocoa, while Bluebottle was in Southampton photographing the Titanic replica on top of a theatre. Just read it, willya?

Subordination By now, these illustrations have made their point, I hope: our purpose in being on the internet is to keep the future from thinking insane things about the past. Such as that anybody cared what Thomas Mann thought (besides the Nobel Prize Committee). Or that absolutely every activity on this planet revolved around mudslinging politics. We're here to remind the world, now and for ages to come, that the sun is not only a star. That day and night, summer and winter, are not merely phenomena. That here in this space/time, humans and other creatures live, love, and play. They try to make each other laugh, and they try to show they care – and occasionally, they say something that somebody else might need to hear.

So read, enjoy, discuss, share. Send more Stuff – I'll get to it as soon as this 'flu permits, I'm moving slowly these days.

And have a great week out there!

Dmitri Gheorgheni




  • May 2018 Create Challenge by Freewayriding.
  • Pier at Cleethorpes.

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