ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE:
(apologies to Philip K. Dick and Walter M. Miller, Jr.)
You know, Pilgrims, the thought has been occurring to my mind the past few days that I would like to have been born a couple of hundred years from now.
I would be born long after the wars of revolution and conquest have rearranged These Untied States and the place is an amalgam of principalities, territories, little republics and colonies.
Somewhere in that multilingual mess that coalesced out of the failed experiment we had been there will be something similar, I think, to what used to have been called a university. And, somewhere among the ivy there will be a scholar in a cellar; a former air raid shelter. He will have been pouring over the charred remains of the documents that formed the cement holding the thing built by those who were called the Fathers of the Country. I picture him there. He is as he has been, toiling late in semi-darkness by a flickering gas lamp wondering what happened, trying to find a cause, an answer.
Among the ashes of what had been The Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free, the revered scholar will have found the record of the last man to hold the office of president, a fellow named Barack H. Obama, known in that future age by two sobriquets…though the word itself won’t exist in New Chinese, the language spoken in that part of the New Lands as we’ll then be known…: The Great Do Nothing and The Great Ditherer. The record will consist of this: a set of golf clubs, a pair of golf shorts, a pair of golf shoes, a red pencil for drawing lines and the mangled remains of a teleprompter stand. Our scholar will have already spent many years trying to puzzle out what these five articles have had to do with governing the then most powerful country in the world; and how their use or misuse, or total lack of use, could have contributed to the sudden fracture of a place filled with so much hope and promise of a future bright with change for the good of all. He is a scholar, after all, an historian of the age, and he knows what was. He knows the great difference between it and what has come from it. He has been to the ruins, and the middens, and seen the bones of “giants”.
My fantasy tells me that I will wait for a few years more before the scholar produces a work which chronicles the end and the reasons for it. It will describe a man of monumental self-deception, and a country hypnotized and hoodwinked by him and his handlers. He will describe the latter as profiteers, and procurers, the equivalent of traveling snake oil salesmen and the growing crowds of privateers in his own society. The book will bear the title in New Chinese that roughly translates into today’s English as: The Naked Emperor: How a Man Who Thought He Knew It All and Deserved it All, Brought It All Down Around Him.
It will be an examination in the end of hope and the caprice of change; a comedy in one cataclysmic act. Few will buy it. None will laugh on the road to God knows where.