The Arrival of the Twenty-Firkzt Century

The ‘Merdre’ Syndrome

In 1896, an absurdist play debuted in Paris called ‘Ubu Roi’. It was written by dramatist Alfred Jarry, a pioneering surrealist playwright who later inspired the works of writers like Samuel Beckett.

The play was about how the bourgeoisie used their power and greed to horde over the little man. That seems pretty typical for what was being produced in dandy-inhabited Parisienne bars and coffee houses of that time.

I chose this play for other reasons. I mean, yeah, down with the bourgeoisie culture and all that. But there was something else special about this drama.

The play opened with a single word, ‘Merdre’, which is an alternate take on the French word for ‘shit’. As the legend goes, the audience broke out in an uproar and a riot. They couldn’t handle the outright vulgarity of this play. They went into the streets, crying aloud they had been witness to depravity.

The French men and women seated in the theater that night were firkztonenot ready for the twentieth-century. Not at all. Even though it was only four short years away. They were unprepared. Flying machines, the atomic bomb, psychedelic drugs, rock music, pornography, the sexual revolution were just mere decades away. And to get all worked up over a little swear word.

I feel that we have come to another moment in history. Society is once again seated in a little French theater, blinders on to what is coming, and feeling complacent as ever. And the tidal wave is not only on the way, it’s already here.

The twenty-first century will wait for no one.

If You Fight Inevitability, You Are Wasting Your Time

I’ve said many times that fighting inevitability is a good way to waste your life. But this doesn’t stop many people from raising their fists, making protest signs, speaking loudly on television, becoming devout deniers of the tea leaves. When they are surrounded by a sea of change, they just dig their heels in deeper, clinging to the belief that we should fight against change, now more than ever.

“We CAN stop this,” they say.

No you can’t.

“Let’s be outraged. Everything will change,” they say.

firkzttwoCompletely incorrect.

“Fighting change is good for the world,” they say.

Not necessarily.

The Twenty-Firkzt Century

The 21xt Century is here. Pronounced ‘twenty-firkzt’ century.

I’ve named it such because we are entering into a century that is going to baffle and fascinate and shock us. Some of the shock will be serendipitous, and some of it will be abhorrent.

In the phrase ‘21xt Century,’ I use ‘x’ as a variable. In other words, ‘x’ can be anything you choose. Time, intelligence, or it can stand for the rapid progress of technology that can either heal the world, or destroy it. Whatever it stands for, x is multiplied by the number twenty-one. 21 times faster, or smarter, or better, or more vivid. (21 is a really conservative estimate. I use it just for demonstrative purposes.)

‘X’ is also an exponent. 21 to the ‘x’ power. This demonstrates the exponential power of computer and machine evolution, where every generation’s processors are vastly superior to the last. This growth will seem to propel the world into a techno-blur of information and disconnection.

But most of all, ‘x’ is an unknown. A mystery. In other words, a black hole that humanity is collectively gazing into. What is on the other side? If we travel through it, how and what will be changed. The answer is probably we will be changed, profoundly and forever.

That is a symptom of the Twenty Firkzt century. There will be many prophets and doomsayers, merrymakers and despots. The goal will be to train yourself not be too clingy.

The Zen Buddhists call this the middle path. This is the awareness of the extreme polar opposites of any objective reality. Just turn on cable news and you’ll get a good idea of what is meant by polar opposites when two irreconcilable ideas are debated, at volume, for the benefit of the listening audience.

Buddhism says there is a middle path through the maelstrom. I posit that this middle path will likely be a good trail through the twenty firkzt century.

There will be a plethora of ideas, and evangelists, and false priests urging you to follow their vision into tomorrow. Humanity will live longer. The machines get smarter. The computers in our pockets now do things that ancient man would have perceived as miracles.

And in the center, you will be the quiet little lotus flower in the midst of the powerful hurricane.

I never said the Twenty Firkzt century was unmanageable. I just said it’s coming hard and fast and isn’t stopping for anything.

Prepare. The twentieth century seemed to reorganize itself about every 10 years. Every decade, the world no longer looked as it did 10 years ago.

Imagine, in the Twenty Firkzt Century, the world won’t resemble itself from day to day.


The Twentieth Century came in with a roar, as those patrons in that Paris theater realized in 1896. With obscenity and art and revolution.

The Twenty Firkzt century will come in with a low, dull hum.

If you’re reading my blog right now, you can hear that hum. Put your ear to the central processing unit of your computer tower or laptop. Hear it? Yep.



Now that calls for a swear word.

How about ‘Merdre’?


About Blog Boss

Jim MacKenzie and Sarah Giavedoni are the creators of the blogs Stuff Monsters Like, the Incredible Vanishing Paperweight, and more. When they are not blogging, they are devoted to managing the Asheville Blogger Society, watching movies, running a completely unrelated nonprofit, and making money at their paid employment.
This entry was posted in Cultural Commentary, Futurism and the Tomorrow Mill. Bookmark the permalink.

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