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An Icon For Our Time

Stewart Brand On The Ten-Thousand-Year Clock

I see no inherent antagonism between environmentalism and technology . . . I am more titillated by technology than by environmentalism because there’s more news. One of my problems with the environmental movement is it gets into the ideology and punishes originality.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Long Now

The sociologist Elise Boulding diagnosed the problem of our times as “temporal exhaustion”: “If one is mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present, there is no energy left for imaging the future.” In a 01978 paper, Boulding proposed a simple solution: expand our idea of the present to two hundred years — a hundred years forward, a hundred years back. A personally experienceable, generations-based period of time, it reaches from grandparents to grandchildren — people to whom we feel responsible. Boulding, a mother of five, wrote that a two-hundred-year present “will not make us prophets or seers, but it will give us an at-homeness with our changing times comparable to that which parents can have with an ever-changing family of children as they move from age to age.”

Third Planet Operating Instructions

This planet has been delivered wholly assembled and in perfect working condition, and is intended for fully automatic and trouble-free operation in orbit around its star, the sun. However, to insure proper functioning, all passengers are requested to familiarize themselves fully with the following instructions.

Great Pains

It was David Brower . . . who had inadvertently steered me away from the kind of religious zeal that characterized his life. He achieved the latter in one memorable weekend . . . and he did it by being a real pain in the ass.

The New Neighbors

That place where I tumbled down the hill and squandered myself in ecstasy or vertigo across the available creation — that was in rural Wisconsin, at a cabin on a lake. My grandparents had cleared the land and built the little white house, green trimmed, in a valley between two hills right next to the water. Grandma wanted to be able to hear the water purl at night, and in those days we had no indoor plumbing to nurse through freeze and thaw.

My Politics

My personal life is particularly political. In fact, now that I ponder the subject, I see that I was one of the first personal-as-political activists. Here is a list of my achievements.

Fiction

Koscinski’s Opening

Koscinski brings another excuse today. Always, he brings an excuse. This morning he tells his teacher Lazlow that the dog ate his hearing aid.

Scarlett In Harlem

My brother rode with me in the back of the cab from the airport to the drug-rehab program on the outskirts of Harlem. As the cab jerked through the traffic, he reached over to squeeze my hand. “Are you all right?” he asked, his voice sounding padded, like a cell where they put crazy people. My brother was a record producer for a classical label and had lived in Manhattan for ten years. I was from Florida and was cold all the way through to the marrow of my bones.

Readers Write

The First Day

Despite my lack of experience, I’d been hired to teach a combined second-and-third-grade bilingual class in a poor immigrant neighborhood in East LA. I was unbearably nervous on my first day.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

September 2001

I don’t want to dream my life away. It’s too easy to sleepwalk through one miracle after another. Is this the dawn of creation or just another Wednesday? Am I searching for something true and enduring or asking too little of myself in too loud a voice?

Musings From Our Founder ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

“The old futures have a way of hanging around. . . . Everyone sort of knows that the real future is going to be cluttered with all the same junk we have today, except it will be old and beat up and there will be more of it.”

William Gibson

More Quotations ▸
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