I first came across the concept of the 10,000 Year Clock in Neal Stephenson's fascinating novel Anathem
. In it, the protagonist was responsible for helping to wind the clock in their concent, a sort of monastery for philosophers and mathematicians. Each day he and the other members of the team wound this huge tower clock, which was designed to control the gates that opened each of the four parts of the concent to the outside world at its appointed time: once every year, every ten years, every hundred years, or every thousand years.
So I was interested when I came across an article on the actual Long Now Foundation
and their efforts to build a clock that will be able to run for ten thousand years -- with echoes of the hypothetical ten-thousand year math that our hero's mentor hypothesized in Anathem
. It's fascinating to learn their rationales for their various choices -- even the location in an inaccessible part of west Texas, where visitors will have to hike for almost a day to visit, making such an act an Event that leaves a permanent impression upon a person, rather than something done casually.
It really makes a good argument for the idea that much of what is wrong with our present society has its roots in our focus upon the short term. Politicians rarely think beyond the next election cycle. Corporate boards rarely look beyond the next annual report and shareholder meeting. And far too many of us live paycheck to paycheck, pursuing strategies that seem prudent at the moment, but often bite us in the butt months or years down the road.
"For our forefathers ate sour grapes, and our teeth are set on edge."