Dear 21st Century – Jonathan van Belle

Dear 21st Century,

We speak to you here in terms familiar to you, in patterns amenable to your native sense, but we would like to emphasize that these terms and patterns are yours, and not ours, though we translate our own notions into yours. Naturally, much is lost in translation. With that caveat, we wish to convey to you some words of encouragement.

First and most importantly, your moral barbarity, as you would call it, is absolved. You did not know, and could not know, being embroiled so thoroughly in the innocence of the 21st century, about such concepts as equilentus, umbutho, and plytroqua, among many others, nor could you know of the discoveries that enabled and secured the attainment of systems predicated on these concepts.

It is dangerous for you, we understand, to take to heart too much of our absolution, of our perspective, given how our political ecosystems differ so drastically; what fits sweetly into our frame fails catastrophically in yours. But please keep dear the thought, however disingenuous it may feel to do so, that while our social and ethical frame does not fit into your frame, your frame fits perfectly into ours.

This is not a patronizing nostalgia we blanket over you, nor the anthropologist’s condescension. We speak to you, but only after we have known you as you have known yourselves. If we may be indulged, since we may not be understood here, it is almost as if you spoke to yourselves speaking from that best part of yourselves. We do not say that we are the best part of yourselves, but the conversation itself. We mean zethique, but you do not understand this concept. There is too much room for misunderstanding in this moment, so we move on.

It would be helpful, we think, to hint more explicitly at the transformations to come, but this kind of helpfulness is not our mission here (only encouragement). We chose to compromise, as you would call it, by hinting at such changes only vaguely. So, we offer two, very briefly.

The first hint involves your proprioception, and we shall put the hint in the form of a question: Are you your brother’s proprioception?

The second and final hint we shall put, also, as a question: What is it like to be every library? Or rather: What is it like to be everybody being every library?

All the best, certainly,

Your Future



Jonathan van Belle is the author of Zenithism (2021) from Deep Overstock Publishing, Editor-in-Chief at Z-Sky (zsky.org), a Content Creator at Outlier.org, and a fan of mallsoft music. You can find his cardboard cutout at www.jonathanvanbelle.com.

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