Clock of the Long Now
I recently was reminded about the Long Now Foundation, a worthy effort to try to get human beings to focus on the long term and even our their volatility. Sustainability is wrapped up in this, as is the Slow Food movement (wiki entry). These are all just variations of the backlash against the hurry up mindsets which have been growing in prevalence in modern life.
We as humans are only just beginning to imagine what damage we are doing to our culture by speeding everything up instead of thinking things through and enjoying life.
“The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide counterpoint to today’s ‘faster/cheaper’ mind set and promote ‘slower/better’ thinking,” the Web site’s “About” page reads. “We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.”
One of their projects, the Clock of the Long Now, ticks once every year.
I write this with the full knowledge that, as a professional in the area of Web Content and an avid follower of online tools for social and professional networking, I am exposed to methods every day intended to help me do my job faster and cheaper. I buy clothes from major department stores which seek profits by making their production lines run faster and cheaper. I buy cans of soup, boxes of veggie burgers, and prepackaged couscous because they cut food prep time to about 5 minutes or less. …
… which gives me more time to get on the Internet and learn how to do things in less time. LOL!
Brian Eno is a founding board member of the Long Now Foundation, which I find very intriguing. Eno (thank you little brother Reeve) is known for his ambient techno. He has worked as a producer for the Talking Heads and a coproducer/engineer for U2’s Joshua Tree album. I am sure his industry colleagues would say that stardust trails in his wake.
So I was curious to see what projects Eno had gotten himself into that dovetailed with the Long Now Foundation. It turns out that in July 2007, he had an art exhibit called 77 Million Paintings in San Francisco. Visitors walked into a darkened room and sat or laid down on the floor. Very slowly, the paintings are shown in dazzling color on a screen that changes very gradually from painting to painting while playing very slow ambient music, forcing the viewers to slow down to get into sync with the speed of the show.
So I looked further, and found an essay written by Eno in 2001 titled, “The Big Here and the Long Now.” When I saw the essay come up, two thoughts came to mind:
1. Wow, this looks really cool. What a great thinker Eno is.
2. Do I really have time to read this whole essay (looking at the right scrollbar to try to gauge the length without actually having to scroll down).
Ah, the world provides us with so many opportunities to laugh at ourselves.
More later. Have to let the dog out and it’s already 15 after.