Your Voice, Their Ears — A Thousand Years From Now

Something I think we forget occasionally is that those of us reading here at FTB (and here amidst this fantastic array of writers and thinkers, I’m just as much part of the audience as you) are a community.

Yeah, we sit in our separate offices or computer dens, generally in solitude, and some of us are perpetual lurkers (and nothing wrong with that) whereas others gush with  comments. But there’s something real here, something very much “us,” in that we’re gathered for the sharing of ideas and experiences. The outpourings of love for PZ Myers (stop blushing, PZ, you know it’s true) or Christopher Hitchens, the audiences that gather for the freethinker events across the country and around the world – and also, I hope, a rising political consciousness (see the National Atheist Party, for instance) – are evidence of this community.

Bearing that in mind, I’d like to try something — an appeal to our community to participate in a little project.

Thinking not long back about the fading phenomenon of letter writing, I mused on the fact that we have letters from, oh, Jefferson to Madison, or Thoreau to Emerson, but that all of those letters are, in at least one minor sense, letters to ME. To US. Those people in the past wrote letters to us, here in their future.

And wouldn’t it make a cool SF story if you could write letters BACK to them? To let the famous and the infamous of our past know what you thought about things they said and did? What if they could be made conscious of us up here in their future, reading and commenting on the things they wrote? How would it affect what they chose to send us?

I realized that something like that can happen. You actually can write a letter through time. The catch is, it can only go one way — futureward.

In this case, WE are the famous and infamous of the past, addressing our descendants. We could never know if they got our letter, but the very writing of it might spark new thoughts, new insights into our own contemporary lives and minds. And what the heck, they MIGHT get to read it.

So: I want to do it. I want YOU to do it.

Write a letter to the future. Whoever and wherever you are, see what you come up with. And send them to me, to post on Blue Collar Atheist.

If you already have a website, post your letter there, and I’ll link to it. If you don’t, email it to me and I’ll post it here. If there are a few, we’ll get them all, if there are many, I’ll have to pick and choose which ones seem best, and post them as representative of the offerings.

The approach you choose to take is totally open. Write to your newborn daughter as she will be at the age of 18. Write to yourself as you’ll be ten years from now. Write to your many-generations-removed descendants. Write to the people of 100 years from now, or 200, or whatever span of years you choose. Tell them about your life, your time, your hopes — for politics, science, reason, advanced research in zero-gravity sex — anything you like.

Interested? Let’s see those letters. However short or long you want to make them, whoever or whenever you want to address them to, whatever subject or approach strikes your fancy, whatever tone – humorous or solemn – you feel is best.

I’ll post a regular Letters to the Future feature, for as long as they keep coming.

Send letters to me at LTTFVIAHANKFOX [at] gmail [dot] com — the caps aren’t necessary; I just wanted the letters to be easily readable. (Leave letters as comments if you really want, but I won’t re-post comment-letters separately.)

Address your letter to someone or somewhen (Dear Friends in the Year 2525: What did you think of Zager and Evans’ immortal classic?). Sign it with your real name, a screen name, Anonymous, whatever you choose. Include a short biographical paragraph, so those future-people will know something about who’s talking.

But write.

I – no, WE – look forward to hearing from you.

[ Fellow FTB bloggers: Yes, I mean you too. How about it, Camels With Hammers? Digital Cuttlefish? Greta Christina? Alethian? Zingularity? Canuck? Blag Hag? Ed? PZ? The rest of yez? I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours. ]

Zoning Out on Liberal vs. Conservative Issues
The Book of Good Living: How to Avoid Being Killed By A Train
Letters to the Future: Hank Fox
Beta Culture: Being Grownups on Planet Earth
  • Doug Alder

    You know Hank (/me delurking here to say that I really enjoy reading your stuff) I think for me that letter would be something really simple –


    If anyone is still around to read this I guess we didn’t completely destroy life on the planet – I hope by now you have progressed beyond religion because if you haven’t I suspect there won’t be anyone left in another thousand years to read your letter forward.

    • Hank Fox

      Heh. Or how about:


      If you’re still around and reading this, the future is way cooler than I thought it would be. Send the time machine to the corner of State Street and Washington Avenue, Schenectady, New York, at exactly noon on Oct. 12, 2011. I’ll be the guy in the blue shirt.

  • Cor (formerly evil)

    Dear Future:
    First, an apology: we never figured out what was killing the honeybees because we were really busy; also the game was on and we had 50 bucks on Green Bay. Good thing we got those pollinator nanobots up and running for you. Hope they haven’t turned the world into brown goo yet.
    Glad to get that off my chest. Well! Moving on, let me congratulate you on being the first generation to have flying cars. However in-depth your research, you simply cannot imagine how cool we thought those would be or what a bummer it was that we couldn’t get them to work.
    Of course, I suppose it’s possible you don’t have flying anything, because your world is a hellish dystopia; in which case I offer my congratulations to your clergy.
    In closing permit me to offer a bit of “Wisdom of the Ages”:
    1) Never eat a taco bigger than your own head. Seems like common sense, but it bears repeating.
    2) Don’t stress over not being able to live up to our standard. We’re no more able to read Finnigan’s Wake than you are.
    3) If we had exercised the least responsibility and discipline, maybe the population would never have topped 20 billion, but in that case most of you would be dead. . . you’re welcome.

    Until you unfreeze my head I remain,
    Faithfully Yours,
    Cor (formerly evil)

    • Cor (formerly evil)

      FinnEgan’s Wake.


  • Camels With Hammers

    Really good idea, I’ll think about it. One thing I love about Nietzsche is that he saw himself specifically as writing “post-humously”, i.e., he wrote to be famous and beloved and massively influential after his death rather than while he was alive. He knew that even though he was being mostly ignored and underappreciated in his life that the future belonged to his ideas and that he was writing about things that only people in the future would be ready and able to truly appreciate. In one place he speculates something to the effect (and I’m badly paraphrasing from memory here) that maybe in the year 2000 people will finally be ready for him. I love that so much since he changed my own life in the year 1999.