Disclaimer: I don't own Cat's Cradle, its characters or its terminology.
Author's Notes: Digging through my old computer, I found this "Time Capsule Letter" I wrote seven years ago for my Grade 9 English class, during our Cat's Cradle unit. It was an interesting enough re-read, so I decided to post it. Obviously I couldn't post the accompanying pictures and the other things Bokonon supposedly included in the time capsule, but eh, it's the thought that counts.
Bokonon's Time Capsule
Dear no one in particular,
Hello, my name is Lionel Boyd Johnson. I was born to a rich family but through a complicated series of events I wound up far from home on this small, insignificant island, San Lorenzo. By "this island", I mean the mound of rocks sticking out from the sheet of ice-nine that used to be an ocean. I first came to this island with my friend Corporal McCabe, I would give you the date but I doubt it would be relevant to you. I doubt many things would be relevant to you. One such irrelevancy would be the story of how I came to San Lorenzo, or what McCabe and I did once we were there. You may want to learn about the island and its original inhabitants, and unfortunately for you, McCabe and I play minor roles in our island's history. And it was our island: San Lorenzo has had many owners in the past, and each one gladly handed over the miserable lump of land to the next lunatic who wanted it.
McCabe and I were on my schooner when we were caught in a fierce storm and smashed on the jagged rocks surrounding San Lorenzo. My friend and I swam ashore and to our surprise, we found people unhappier than us (keep in mind we were stark naked and without a penny to either of our names at the time). We then declared ourselves the new rulers of San Lorenzo and tried to make it a paradise (but only after we had put on some clothes). McCabe overhauled the economy and the laws and tried to eliminate the poverty and hunger… he failed. I threw out the priests and invented my own religion and I, Bokonon (the native pronunciation of Johnson on San Lorenzo), became the only source of hope for the people of our misbegotten piece of land…I also failed.
Actually, since I was only having fun and not trying to do anything in particular by inventing Bokononism I can't really have failed. But I did advise all the survivors of the first few treacherous days of an ice-nine enclosed world (which I suppose you find normal and not hellish like we all did) to commit suicide. Most of them did, some didn't, and these people are probably your parents, or grandparents or maybe even yourself. If they are your ancestors than you have never lived in a world not coated in ice-nine. If you are one of the original survivors than there really isn't a reason for you to read this letter or anything else in this time capsule, not that there is any reason for a later generation survivor to read any of this either.
For my purposes I will (perhaps unwisely) assume you were born after ice-nine froze almost everything on Earth, so I will assume you have never encountered any living creatures other than humans and perhaps ants (frozen corpses don't count). You (if you don't mind me stating the obvious) have never even seen a fluid body of water in its mesmerizing, hypnotic currents or waves, generated by nothing more than wind and the planet's rotation. And you never will. So in this time capsule I have decided to include pictures of the past; I know I am only being cruel by teasing you with the memories of those unobtainable wonders, but I have nothing better to do.
I also included the Books of Bokonon for you and whatever friends or acquaintances or enemies you may have to read. It has some actual history, but most of it is foma – lies. It's a good read, though (if you enjoy glorified fiction), so if you find yourself bored (which you probably already are, or you wouldn't have bothered seeking this worthless time capsule out in the first place) you may want to take a look at it. It can't be any worse than staring at ice-nine all the time.
Although all my advice is trash and I never follow it myself, I will give you some – after all, one man's trash is another man's treasure; whether this is true to you or not, it means nothing to me. You may even be a woman, but I can't be expected to know your gender now, as you are not alive yet (at the time I am writing this), and I will not be alive then (at the time you are reading this). The advice is: Have Fun. McCabe and I tried to have fun, and some of the time we did. It didn't really do anything for us, nor did it get us anywhere, and it will do (or rather not do) the same for you. But while you're doing nothing and going nowhere, you might as well enjoy yourself, if that's possible when you live.
Frankly, I don't care if you are happy, or if you are even able to become happy. Because by the time you are, or are not, in whatever mood you are in, have been, or will be in during your life, I will be long gone, and I don't empathize with people who aren't even around yet. For all I know, you will never be around and I am, in fact, writing to no one (not just to "no one" in particular). But I don't care if this letter is read or not, or if you exit or not, whoever you may or may not be. I only wrote this letter because I was bored, and some say (or said, as they are all dead now) boredom is worse than death. I don't know if this is true or not, I've only been bored. But with the help of ice-nine, I'm about to try being dead, then I'll know which is worse. That's motivation enough for me to die – you may want to try it yourself, then you can find out too (that is, assuming you do exist and are reading this letter and are therefore alive and able to die).