Time Traveler! You have arrived at the temporal crux of 2014 “AD”. Welcome from [please select your time period below]
…prehistory! You are no doubt stunned by our highly interdependent technologies and tall but flaccid bodies.
…regular history! Yes, the [ruling peoples of your time] Empire has lapsed into irrelevance, so whatever enemies or allegiances you had are no longer valid. You are completely safe/unimportant.
…The 80s! You are most welcome to the Future, Dude! Or Dudette!
…the utopia of the future! Please keep your eyes and ears open for what we call “danger”, please learn what “money” is, and do not eat anything found on the ground – the ground is what we call “dirty”.
…the dystopia of the future! If there is anything we can do to make this respite from the hell of your time more restorative, please let us know. If you need something, use words first, not any handmade weapons you may have brought with you. We have what we call “laws”.
If you are here to learn about this specific time period, may we suggest a few recent “publications”? We will attempt to indicate each selection’s possible relevance for you, based on your time of origin – but, of course, we can usually only guess.
World Order by Henry Kissinger, one of the formative statesmen of our era, gives a well-informed picture of how global power centers have evolved and why it is so difficult to get everyone on the same page. This book will demonstrate how… [again, please select comment from your time period below]
Prehistory …your simple plan to merge your Mammoth Tusk Tribe with the Bear Claw Tribe that lives on the other end of Stinky Swamp will not solve all of your problems.
Regular history …states still compete through their military or trade or by cultural proxy towards what they self-interestedly assume is the universal good. From your time, nothing has changed.
The 80s …so much has changed! But Kissinger is still around, man! Like, his neck disappeared, but the rest of him is still here. Anyway, China is still big. Russia is still pretty big, too, but like, rather than a threatening imperial invader, they’re like that really buff dude at the party who had way too many wine coolers. And the Middle East is still pretty bogus, dude. U! S! A!
Utopia …the situation in your time will probably change. Be ready.
Dystopia …(see immediately above)
Rebecca Goldstein’s Plato at the Googleplex works as a sort of foil of ancient to modern (with apologies to visitors from the past, who would not consider themselves ancient and visitors from the future, who will not consider us modern). A fictional but true-to-source Plato reacts to various 2014ish personalities and situations. This book is good for understanding our Greek roots, but also for looking at us through that Platonic lense. But really, … [select answer for your time period]
Prehistory …a lot of this book will not be useful to you, with the presumably small amount of time you have available for anything but gathering nuts and konking animals on the head, but – holy shnikey – will you be messing with the timeline of history if you start doing Plato a few thousand years early. I say, do it! Why not?!
Regular history …if you’re Greek, high five! You totally win.
The 80s …screw philosophy; watch NASDAQ for “AAPL” and totally buy it, dude.
Utopia …future historians, please note that this is a playful, though serious, examination of Platonic philosophy using an entirely fictional framework. This book did not actually happen.
Dystopia …this is as good a place as any to start rebuilding your world. Good luck!
The Innovators The history of computing, digital technology and what-not thru the prime movers: Turing, Gates, Jobs, etc. – even as far back as Ada Lovelace, in the 1840s. Depending on your time period, this will either blow your mind or seem very passé. But…
Prehistory …man, you have all of history in front of you. So jealous.
Regular history …none of this is witchcraft! Ok? Calm down.
The 80s …Dude. DUDE! The Future is full on rad! “Internet” is this way big arcade game that everyone on the planet plays, but like, we still haven’t figured out the rules or the goal. And you don’t need quarters! (Did you buy AAPL yet? Make sure you stick with it; there are some rough spots.)
Utopia …are you jealous that we have all of posthistory in front of us? So exciting!
Dystopia … Which is it – Apple? Microsoft? Skynet? Who do we need to stop?!
Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything is an environmental challenge to capitalism. Beyond just “Be nice to Koalas, cuz they’re cute”, this is an assertion that our economic system is crushing both us and our planet, in every area from governance to natural resources.
Prehistory …Skip it; you need capitalism to escape hunting/gathering. Seriously – you’re never going anywhere til you can make, sell or trade products on an extra-regional scale.
Regular history …Skip it; you need capitalism to escape feudalism.
The 80s …Oh my god, dude – you have to read this before it’s too late. We, like, totally just figured out that capitalism is a soulless mallet of self-interested greed. It’s functional, yes, but also insatiable. It’s like a robot that learns stuff, but if it doesn’t learn things like compassion and restraint, then it’ll totally destroy everything, like in Terminator.
Utopia … Please read this and tell us if it’s correct.
Dystopia … (see immediately above)
The Best American Series 2014 is not one book, but 9 – which are available separately. They cover a lot of territory: “Short Stories”, “Sports Writing”, “Travel Writing”, “Essays”, “Non-Required Reading”, “Science and Nature”, “Mystery Stories”, “Infographics” and “Comics”. It doesn’t matter what time you’re from, if you take these back with you, you will be getting a pretty good look at Americans, or at least at how we see the world and our time. These are “selfies” in words.
Prehistory … These are ways you’ll spend your time, once food-procurement doesn’t consume every waking moment: science research, sports, sitting around writing essays – this is what we advanced people do.
Regular history … Even more than the Travel or Science, I think the Sports will be most baffling for you. Again, unless you’re Greek.
The 80s … Go back to the 80s and enjoy your cultural heroes in their prime, because a lot of them don’t make it: Michael Jackson, most pro-wrestlers and half the cast of Different Strokes – just for starters. You don’t have time to read!
Utopia … (Non-sequitur – Is all reading just infographics in your time period? Just curious.)
Dystopia … This is a really wide variety of reading material for you and your clan back in your underground bunker, though it will make you heartsick for better times.
Well, time traveler, I hope this short list is useful for your studies. If you run out of supplies while you are here/now, you’ve got a pretty good chance of meeting your extra-temporal needs at The Time Travel Mart, in Echo Park.
Good luck, and may Wyld Stallyns be with you.
A FEW ITEMS OF PHYSICAL CULTURE FROM THE 2014 ERA YOU MAY WANT TO BRING BACK TO YOUR TIME AS ARTIFACTS:
Cup (left) Bowl (right) Scraping Tool (bottom)
Smoothed river stone, used for grinding acorns
[interactive copyright notice]
Get notifications whenever Dwarf + Giant has a new post.