Thursday, 20 December 2012
Dear future successor to the human race,
I’ve heard that the world might be going to end tomorrow. We don’t know how that’s going to happen yet but, to be honest, it could happen in lots of ways. We really haven’t been very good caretakers of our planet and I have a nasty feeling something might be about to rebound on us (after all, the 16th century Nostradamus did say something about Syria and World War Three).
Don’t feel too sorry for us. We had our moment in the spotlight, got about as far as we could before destruction hit us and now it’s your turn. After all, we’ve been here several times before I think and lost it due to war, accident, mistakes, you name it – but the exception in our epoch of civilisation this time – and the reason we might not fall quite so badly - is that we had the time to invent the internet. Somewhere out there I’m hoping that you’ll stumble across its creation too and find all these words and images of the human race before it left the Earth en masse and it will fill in a few gaps for you about our culture and how we behaved. Some of it, I fear, will not make for happy reading.
Please don’t be too hard on us. They say that action speaks louder than words and I could well believe that it was one of the stupid actions of a few of us that caused the death and devastation across the planet. But I hope that instead of dismissing all of us as the neanderthalisthic monsters we might appear to be, some of our words will live on past the point where we are gone. I’ve dedicated my life’s work to cataloguing some of the finest points of human civilisation and culture on this very site and I’m far from the only one to have done so. Sadly most of the records and compact discs (don’t worry if you don’t understand the terminology) might be blown into smithereens by the end of tomorrow, but if the internet survives – and I’m hoping it will – then surely most of our music will too. This site will help you navigate your way around the best bits which will tell you more than I can about the concerns, the fears, the dramas and the insecurities of our age. Some of you, I’m sure, will discover other pieces of music that you will love over and above the ones I have discussed here. Assuming you, as the inheritors of the Earth, still have ears anyway and haven’t evolved another form of hearing! Other websites out there will offer you glimpses into more of the best of ourselves, our films, our television, our books, our paintings – every medium we used to express ourselves and what made us think. The times when mankind reached as far as his grasp would let him stretch, instead of simply getting on with surviving as we all so often did. The times when we thought we had come up with a solution to an age old problem – and others when we realised we had fallen into the same old traps of our predecessors. A catalogue of 20th and 21st century life – that’s what I have been collecting all these years, via the medium of music.
I like to think that there was a little good in all of us and maybe - who knows – there may have been a lot of good in some of us. Whether you think that too, when you’ve seen how we snuffed out the light of civilisation for our own foolish ends or simply looked on aghast as a preventable catastrophe went ahead, well, that’s up to you and I’m too far away time-wise to influence your thoughts about that. But I know too well from history books how a single generation, even a whole civilisation can be labelled as a particular adjective in only a few simple lines. Please don’t believe that of us. Our lives were complicated, more complicated than they should have been perhaps. Often the wrong people were left in charge (sometimes the right people were too sensible to want to be in charge, sometimes they just weren’t asked, sometimes other people just shouted louder). Sometimes the people in positions of power were bullies who wanted power for its own ends, but only revealed that after they had the power already in their hands. Sometimes there was an argument that escalated too far and turned into warfare before the other side quite knew where they were headed. Sometimes the heroes and heroines of our epoch were simply wiped out by others, jealous of their talents, causing the wars to go on that little bit longer. Sometimes we simply got it wrong and by the time we got what we wanted we realised it wasn’t actually what we wanted at all. But, more often than not, it was only a fraction of our population that wanted this hatred, injustice, unfairness and greed that may well have been the cause of our undoing (I’m assuming, for the moment, that when the end comes it will be so quick I won’t have time to write to you so I don’t know what it is yet) – please bear in mind that it was only some of us wishing hardship on others some of the time, not all of us all of the time.
It may surprise you to learn that the human race individually had a very short time span in my lifetime, 70 years if lucky. That’s barely enough time to get noticed and work out what you want to do with your life, never mind actually do something about it. Too many of us got sucked into side-streets we didn’t mean to travel down or ended up casting our horizons lower and lower each day. Goodness knows what your lifespan is now. You might all live for centuries, or millennia, or forever barring accidents– or then again thanks to us millennia of mutations might have dragged your average living years down to the teens or twenties. If the former, then it will be a mystery to you why some of us would have tried so hard to have such an impact on life, why we spent so long trying to control others, while the real leaders among us – the thinkers, the philosophers and the artists – were on the sidelines of our civilisation. Why, in the last handful of generations, sticking a camera in front of someone’s face and giving them immortality was taken lightly in the name of frivolous entertainment, rather given to someone important with something to say that we knew would have a big impact on our lives. To be honest most of us round at the time never understood it either. If your lifespan if even shorter than ours then I’m sorry for what we had a hand in creating, making a bad situation even worse, but then I’m sure a small part of you understands what it was like, to hear the ticking of that biological clock that gives you such a short time to say all the things that need to be said and such a small window of opportunity to have an impact on the world. I offer this not as an excuse, but as an apology. We could have done more. We should have done more. We really should have seen this coming, even without the warnings of the Mayans. We didn’t and I’m sorry.
If you’ve discovered my site already then presumably you must have searched through quite a few other websites before coming across mine – its not all that well known, in terms of importance I’m only a legend in my own postal district as it were. You must, I am sure, have already made up your mind about what our lives were like, whether to you we lived in barbaric rash stupidity or comparative comfort and serenity. My view, sitting here, is that we lived in a mixture of the two and mankind could never quite decide which side of the fence he really wanted to be on – either a barbaric backward with intellectual tendencies or an erudite, educated, civilised creature with fleeting moments of density. All I can ask you is, please don’t judge us as harshly as we will no doubt judge ourselves in those final minutes, in those last few gasps of guilt and worry, as the human race disappears back down the technological pecking order for goodness knows how many centuries. And, for what it’s worth, we send our love, our courage and our strength to you as you rebuild the human or maybe a whole other new realm of life up painfully and slowly from the ground level. Please learn from where we went wrong but, if necessary, please take on board our strengths and how truly great our civilisation and culture could be in the times we were helping each other, teaching each other and supporting each other.
I’d like to think that there are parts of our culture that are worth saving. I am only sorry that there wasn’t more and that so much time was lost doing petty work for petty money in petty offices in petty towns in petty planets around the globe. Our grasp was much bigger than our reach truly was – we only ever travelled as far as the moon and you’re probably at the end of the solar system by now – and we ran out of time to truly start stretching ourselves to find out how far we could go. I hope you have better luck wherever and whenever you read this and can see, with the benefit of hindsight, where we went wrong – and if possible learn from our mistakes and put it right.
This is Alan’s Album’s Archives on December 20th 2012 wishing you a happy epoch of progress and a peaceful new millennia.
Appendix – Just in case my site is one of those you find early in your scan for life then here are a few references that might be useful to you in working out these words, a sort of Rosetta Stone for the future (don’t worry if the name escapes you!) Here is our Alphabet; A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Here is our numbering system up to 20: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 1 4 15 16 17 18 19 20 (you should get the idea of where our numerical system is going from this!) The language this is written in is English. This is the language used where I live and it is spread quite widely across the globe, but some countries use other languages and other bits of writing may feature different words to this one. This website has a built in translator gadget that at the click of the button can translate into about 30 different languages.