Layers of Time

The Long Now Foundation, which aims to encourage longer term thinking, publishes an image of time in parallel layers, very similar to something I laid out in an earlier post. Artists and art lovers know that art can stop the flow of time—temporarily—and give access to a level of reality that appears to change more slowly than our busy active minds, and this is an experience worth having. As those behind The Long Now Foundation must certainly realize, ten thousand years is an eye blink; many natural processes occur on a much, much longer scale, so they are just trying to stretch our conception of the present, a worthwhile goal. Certainly the fastest thing in the world is thought, and scientists who open to our view the depths of geological or evolutionary time allow us to pass millennia in an instant. When our perspective includes aeons, laid out in a chart or diagram, our thinking races toward origins and endpoints much faster than the light from the big bang. Art at its best puts obstacles in the way of such rapid comprehension, and for artists scientific insights should be objects of contemplation not understanding. Meanwhile, the characterization of fashion and art as froth on the ocean of time needs some correction.Speed [Updated].ai

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