In my ramblings around the interwebs I occasionally stumble into some fascinating websites with captivating reading material. One such site called, longnow.com offered an article about the development of a 10,000 year clock! Yes, that’s right, a very curious concept for development of a clock, that is currently under construction, by a host of interesting characters, for the purpose of looking forward to the long-term future.
From their ABOUT page; “The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. We hope to foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.”
Wow! That is quite an idea! I certainly can concur with the need for our culture to begin thinking about the long-term….but 10,000 years does seem a bit far off for most folks to wrap their heads around the concept.
Among the list of creative thinkers involved with the project are people like; Danny Hillis – the clock’s inventor, more about Hillis here, and with respect to the project here is a quote; “I cannot imagine the future, but I care about it. I know I am a part of a story that starts long before I can remember and continues long beyond when anyone will remember me. I sense that I am alive at a time of important change, and I feel a responsibility to make sure that the change comes out well. I plant my acorns knowing that I will never live to harvest the oaks.” He is, of course, speaking figuratively, while I, on the other hand, literally plant trees that I shall not live long enough to enjoy their shade.
He continues; “I want to build a clock that ticks once a year. The century hand advances once every 100 years, and the cuckoo comes out on the millennium. I want the cuckoo to come out every millennium for the next 10,000 years.” Perhaps the whole idea is crazy as a cuckoo-bird, but as a gardener and individual who loves humanity’s collective home – planet earth, I share solidarity with the expression of such a level of thinking. It is a sentiment that echoes a question posed long ago by Jonas Salk; “Are we being good ancestors?”
Other notables in this cast of characters include; Stewart Brand – cultural pioneer (more about Brand here from his TED Talks presentation). Brand was also the author of the Whole Earth Catalogue,- a publication that Steve Jobs spoke so highly of in his commencement address to the Stanford University graduating class of 2005. Many of my regular students remember Jobs’ fervent encouragement that the group of graduates should “Stay Hungry and Stay Foolish“.
Also, Kevin Kelly – the author of the linked article and member of the board at Long Now Foundation, Kelly is also the founder of Wired Magazine. And Stuart Kendall – one of the clock makers in this project and founding partner of Seattle Solstice.
Another big name associated with the project is, Brian Eno – who composed the clocks never repeating melody generator which rings the clocks chimes. And another, Jeff Bezos – a man for whom I harbor a certain degree of contempt due to his political leanings, though I am reluctant to dismiss this amazing project based on my own political differences with one of the principals, (Bezos is a Clintonista and Obama sycophant).
The entire concept is delightfully engaging! On the other hand, is it possible these folks have much too much time on their hands? And clearly this kind of thinking is a luxury that is only afforded to wealthy people living in advanced cultures, but I really do find a certain element of allure involved in such a far-out idea. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands! I am also not ashamed to admit that these guys are way beyond my league in terms of intellectual prowess, level of education and their respective business achievements.
I encourage you to take a look at the article linked above in the opening paragraph. For ESL learners the material will likely be quite challenging with plenty of new vocabulary. In fact, here is a short list of some of the less common vocabulary (for non-native speakers), with linked definitions; 1) Cuckoo clock, 2) chimes, 3) diurnal, 4) Grandfather clock, 5) longevity, 6) millennium, 7) pendulum. All of these words are related to the concept of time or the devices used to measure time- timepieces / clocks.
Time is too slow for those who wait
And time is too swift for those who fear
Time is too long for those who grieve
And time is too short for those that laugh
And love is too slow for those who wait
And love is too swift for those who fear
Love is too long for those who grieve
And love is too short for those that laugh
But for those who love
But for those who really love
But for those who love
All the time
Time, time, time, time
But even flowers must die
And then a new day comes
And there’s a new day’s dawn
And there’s a new day’s sun
And love stays on
Sweet love stays on
Love stays on
Love stays on
Love, love, love, love
And time, time, time, time