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.

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