The Land of Culture
Too far did I fly into the future: a horror seized upon me.
And when I looked around me, lo, there time was my sole contemporary!
Then did I fly backwards, homewardsand always faster. Thus did I come unto you, ye present-day men, and into the land of culture.
For the first time brought I an eye to see you, and good desire; verily, with longing in my heart did I come.
But how did it turn out with me? Although so alarmedI had yet to laugh! Never did mine eye see anything so motley-coloured!
I laughed and laughed, while my foot still trembled, and my heart as well. Here forsooth, is the home of all the paintpots, said I.
With fifty patches painted on faces and limbsso sat ye there to mine astonishment, ye present-day men!
And with fifty mirrors around you, which flattered your play of colours, and repeated it!
Verily, ye could wear no better masks, ye present-day men, than your own faces! Who couldrecognise you!
Written all over with the characters of the past, and these characters also pencilled over with new charactersthus have ye concealed yourselves well from all decipherers!
And though one be a trier of the reins, who still believeth that ye have reins? Out of colours ye seem to be baked, and out of glued scraps.
All times and peoples gaze divers-coloured out of your veils; all customs and beliefs speak divers-coloured out of your gestures.
He who would strip you of veils and wrappers, and paints and gestures, would just have enough left to scare the crows.
Verily, I myself am the scared crow that once saw you naked, and without paint; and I flew away when the skeleton ogled at me.
Rather would I be a day-labourer in the nether-world and among the shades of the by-gone! Fatter and fuller than ye, are forsooth the nether-worldlings!
This, yea this, is bitterness to my bowels, that I can neither endure you naked nor clothed, ye present- day men!
All that is unhomelike in the future, and whatever maketh strayed birds shiver, is verily more homelike and familiar than your reality.
For thus speak ye: Real are we wholly, and without faith and superstition: thus do ye plume yourselvesalas! even without plumes!
Indeed, how would ye be able to believe, ye divers-coloured onesye who are pictures of all that hath ever been believed!
Perambulating refutations are ye, of belief itself, and a dislocation of all thought. Untrustworthy ones: thus do I call you, ye real ones!
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