Cruelty + the Long Now

02001-06-05 | Internet, Musings, World | 0 comments

News from Cambodia (AP) –

Within eyesight of a sign urging ‘Don’t sell wildlife,’ a roadside vendor is peddling four slow lorises – little primates with sad luminous eyes — to be burned alive and churned into purported Chinese medicine. A mortal danger to gibbons and other primates in Indochina is the area’s proximity to China, where the appetite for exotic meat, medicine and aphrodisiacs seems insatiable, and growing as the country’s economic prosperity increases. Thousands of primates which once chattered and sang in Indochina’s jungles are reduced to powdered bones, dried feet, blood and wine concoctions and monkey brains on Chinese plates.

Some days it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the news of mankind’s cruelty and shortsightedness. From the distruction of ancient Buddhas in Afghanistan to the eating of rare primates. On those days it feels good to take the long view. Check out the Long Now. Started years ago by a group of people who felt that we don’t look far enough ahead, this organization has created the millenium clock. This clock ticks once a year, bongs once every hundred years and the cuckoo comes out every 1,000 years. The protoype has been ticking at the Science Museum in London since 1999. Recently the group has aquired 180 acres of land in Nevada where they plan to set up the millenium clock among Bristlecone Pines that are up to 5,000 years old. Bristlecone Pinetrees are the oldest living things on this planet and some in Utah are up to 7,000 years old.
These days when nobody is willing to spend 600 years on the building of a public building (the Cathedral of Cologne was built from 1200 until 1800), we have lost the long view, but maybe the millenium clock can put us in touch with it again……
From the text on Long Now:

“I think of the oak beams in the ceiling of College Hall at New College, Oxford. Last century, when the beams needed replacing, carpenters used oak trees that had been planted in 1386 when the dining hall was first built. The 14th-century builder had planted the trees in anticipation of the time, hundreds of years in the future, when the beams would need replacing. Did the carpenters plant new trees to replace the beams again a few hundred years from now?”

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