Nick-in

Letter to a century hence

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Nicolo F. Bernardo

ONE HUNDRED years from now, dear reader from the future, and this author and everyone who wrote with me here, as you know, are already gone. You are only reading traces of our thoughts, in this our issue’s theme on immortality, in our creative conjectures on surviving like gods.
I suppose you are reading from a microfilm or a digitized or enhanced version of this magazine— whatever—if you still find our terms intelligible. I hope that your curiosity on this strange world of ours would satisfy you.
Like you, we also dreamed of making our moments last in any way possible. We thought of being forever young. Full of ourselves, we didn’t count the days. We often missed the fact that we have our own time to say goodbye to this world you are now in. None of us knew how we shall breathe our last, but you from the future could know ours. Where we are now, in neverland or promised land, we could not really say. Only the breath of our free spirits, I suppose, could touch you through this manuscript.
You are fortunate to live in a time when cryonics, robotics, nanotech, total organ transplants, and regeneration are banal realities for continued living. I am already content to live in your memory, in the mind of anyone who shall care to read this. As for my body, it suffices me to pass my genetic code to my many offspring.
I would think you have encountered that son-of-a-gun Mr. Jacques Derrida from your readings, who once said that the text does not need its author. Meaning, a writing has its own life, it can even kill its author. It can be forever read, misread, interpreted, deconstructed, and reconstructed at the absence and expense of its writer, as you are already doing to me here. You have all the right—and responsibility—for our scribbles as we did to scribes before us.
People die but their ideas don’t because of writing’s nine lives. Could you have known Plato, Jesus, Shakespeare, Stalin, and us without scriptures? Have you ever really known us, or only what thoughts of us are left for you to read?
Now you understand why we are doing this— writing and writing and writing—so that somehow you may know a piece of us. So that somehow our lettered remains may linger in our lines and stories.
See the magic of the letter. Even if we are gone, we—or rather our written texts—can still rouse your thoughts and imaginations, kindle your passions, break you into tears, make you laugh, love, lust, and see the world like the way we did. While we have no more minds, our minds still speak to you. We had even raised ageless characters with a life of their own, like Simoun or Sherlock.
Pardon me if you are in fact a humanobot, or a hybrid of sorts from our careless muddling of our genes. If the world has ended, you are probably an alien, and I guess you have found a way to decode electronic transmissions of our writings left scattering from our annihilated planet.
Lucky for us gen-Xers that before your time, we had our computers, cell phones, and satellites diffusing network messages through energy beams that can go light years. The computer was our great equalizer and immortalizer. Everyone could post his name, image, and testament forever preserved in virtual memory. Messages could run in networks even outside the planet in perpetuity.
So dear reader from tomorrow, use the power of the letter in your most advanced resource now while you have the moment. Publish before perish. Even how superior you are from us, still you are a creature, you are perishable. Death may hold you at any moment, like a time bomb. Your future is no more certain, only your death is.
But at least one hundred years hence you may become one of us—immortalized creatures of textual recall. I would wish to meet you again in the minds of other readers forever and ever, in the afterworld of codes and letters.

Montage Vol. 10 • December 2006