Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Lincoln Quote Always Makes Me Cry




As I take the sacred oath of the highest office in the land, I am humbled by the responsibility placed upon my shoulders, renewed by the courage and decency of the American people, and fortified by my faith in an awesome God.

We are in the midst of a season of trial. Our Nation is being tested, and our people know great uncertainty. Yet the story of America is one of renewal in the face of adversity, reconciliation in a time of discord, and we know that there is a purpose for everything under heaven.

On this Inauguration Day, we are reminded that we are heirs to over two centuries of American democracy, and that this legacy is not simply a birthright -- it is a glorious burden. Now it falls to us to come together as a people to carry it forward once more.

So in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, let us remember that: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and call upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fierce Politics of Optimism

We stand on the threshold of a new era, but I find myself not with grand and eloquent thoughts, but with a simple, burning wish as a simple American citizen: let the door to transformation open. Let it swing wide, and let our sense of the possible, our sense of the tomorrow we still might make, widen with it. Let us become again the native home of that future and the land of the free and just and hopeful.  
- Alex Steffen,

 I love the idea of a "fierce politics of optimism." It's so easy to get blown over by the winds of cynicism. Nobody wants to look like a fool. But I'd rather fail as a hopeful fool than go down with my heart closed.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Franti Obama Song

This is why leaders are important.  Even though it's about all of us doing the work, we all need inspiration and a point of focus.  Peace Out Michael Franti!

Faulkner on Clocks

In light of my current clocktastic obsession:

Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.   - William Faulkner

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Faulkner Quote

Forest Whitaker read this quote from William Faulkner at the We Are One celebration today:

"I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail."

And that's what it's all about.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some Things Make Me Very Happy

Touche, Monsieur Bear.  Touche.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Basic Idea

I'm applying for grants and fellowships to work on Long Now, and so of course, I'm having to describe what the piece is all about, and not just give a prolonged treatise on wacky clocks.

One of the residencies I'm applying for is at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.  Not just a science museum, it's a museum of "science, art, and human perception."  In other words, My Mothership!

In articulating Long Now for them, I'm starting to piece together a story and also learn how to talk about it.  Here's where I'm headed so far:

Add to the clock stew my deep intrigue with Native American trickster mythology, and an obsessive fascination with the super-volcano underneath Yellowstone National Park.  I have a fanciful vision of it as the cuckoo in the gigantic, geologic clock of North America.  Of course, if that cuckoo pops out its door, we’re all in some serious trouble.

I find myself wondering (in my more fantastical moments) if all of the giant imbalances in the world we’re experiencing right now – environmental, political, economic – might end up setting off the Yellowstone volcano clock a little prematurely.  Or what if it’s timed to go off in 2012 at the end of the Mayan Calendar?

So, I’ve started imagining this new piece as an epic, magical quest, undertaken by 3 very different women:

  • An undersea explorer who finds a mysterious ancient Greek clockwork
  • A social visionary designing a 10,000 year clock and who keeps experiencing some strange, supernatural setbacks
  • A seismologist studying Yellowstone and whose seismographs are giving her very unusual results

These women come together to unravel the mysteries of their discoveries and eventually to prevent the volcanic cataclysm from happening.  On the course of their journey, they keep running into Trickster, who, as a Creature of Nature, is deeply out of balance herself, and can’t decide whether to help or hinder their progress.

I really hope I get to go to the Exploratorium.  It's just a phenomentally cool place.  AND, the Long Now Foundation is also in San Francisco, so I'd get to go groupie myself at them as well.

Meet The Team

For the first round of development on this new piece (working title: Long Now), I'm collaborating with a group of high school students from the Walden Project - a program created by the Willowell Foundation, an organization dedicated to integrating the sciences, arts, and humanities into place-based education.  

Note of Transparency: I'm on the Willowell Board.

The students are all encouraged to do internships with members of the community, and so these guys are working with me.

Fiona, Kristen, and Noah

They're all very smart, insightful, and extremely good writers.  I've never created a piece this way before, and we're all figuring it all out on the fly.  Hopefully they'll be patient with me.  As you can see, to get on their good side, I feed them lunch and large amounts of tea.

Right before Christmas, I told them about the Antikythera Mechanism - an ancient Greek clockwork found at the bottom of the Aegean which calculates astronomical cycles, and which is one of the inspirational sources for the show.

Fiona wrote a very funny poem in response:

Aegeus, they found your clock. I find it difficult to pity you, because you put it in the most obvious hiding spot. Did you really think they wouldn’t look in your sea?

Medea, they found your sword. It seems to have fallen off your chariot. The C.S.I.’s scurried in and took it away to be finger printed. As if they really had to venture a guess at who’s DNA was on it. As you often remind us, you are an unlucky woman.

Hera, they found your magic lipstick. Not that it’s a big deal, but now Sephora is mass producing it and all those mortal bitches will know your secret.

Zeus, we’re getting you a court date. Hope you can find your most serious toga. It’s a shame that you have to be humiliated but you shouldn’t have raped all those wood nymphs.  

Looking forward to seeing what else they come up with.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Norwegian Eco-Kids

I personally authorize this sort of behavior for all American kids as well.