There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years.
Bruce Sterling’s very very meaty essay on ways of thinking about nature and technology, introducing the idea of ‘Next Nature’. Lots of good stuff in there, worth chewing over slowly and coming back to later.
We’re especially guarded about our most pious, sentimentalized notions of Nature. Nature as a nurturing entity that is harmonious, calm, peaceful, inherently rightful and all-around “good-for-you.”
This vaguely politicized attitude about Nature never came from Nature. It was culturally generated. Nature didn’t get her all-natural identity-branding until the Industrial Revolution broke out.
The most profound idea in the essay (to me, at least) is how our attitudes about what is of Nature and what isn’t is causing us to ill-treat technology:
We also stigmatize technology by denying its “natural” aspects: its mortality, fragility, complex interactivity, and its utter dependence on sometimes fitful flows of energy and material sustenance. We rarely allow ourselves any tender, reverential, nurturing attitude toward technology. The mass extinctions of entire classes of objects and services go almost unnoticed.
Tim Carmody’s magnificent rambling and interconnected piece he wrote for the new made-in-48-hours magazine, Longshot. Just look at this first paragraph:
Punk rock and comparative philology were both invented in Germany about 150 years apart. This story is about how you go from one to the other in two moves, by way of Istanbul and the Mississippi Delta. First, though, you need to know something about the prehistorical Greece of Homer’s Odyssey.