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Clocks ... and deep thoughts

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Last year, the Pennsylvania-based alt-rock band Live, which had a series of radio hits in the 1990’s, re-released their major-label debut album, Mental Jewelry, in observance of the 25th anniversary of its release right before the dawn of the critical year 1992.

The Krishnamurti-influenced Radioactive Records album – which took big swipes at Christianity- was a big hit with my college buddies, with some of them forming a band and performing a pretty solid cover of their hit “Pain Lies on the Riverside.” The metaphors of both water – and love, frankly – are all over this record.

So, I recently got this reissued album to refamiliarize myself with this beautifully bombastic band, led by a rather mercurial character named Ed Kowalczyk who has had a push-pull relationship with his Catholic background, coming back to it, full circle.

But taking another listen to those songs from a quarter-century ago, Kowalczyk was clearly a deep-thinker, for someone just turning 20 years old.

While I could examine any of the songs on Mental Jewelry, the one that stands out to me at the moment is “10,000 Years (Peace Is Now).” Why? Well, lyrically it is very strong. Plus, it is the final track on the second disc included in the reissue, which is a recording of a live show at The Roxy on July 13, 1992, a few days before Kowalczyk’s 21st birthday.

The world is burning down / Can’t you smell the smoke in the air? / War, disease, and famine / This demon, she is everywhere

“Poets and preachers and politicians / They’ve all had their say / And we got 10,000 years / Devoted to nothing / But tomorrow and yesterday …

Those lyrics, of course, could easily apply to today, as they did in those final years of George H.W. Bush administration, coming off the Persian Gulf War and heading toward defeat in '92, against Bill Clinton (Kowalczyk notes the '92 Democratic Party Convention during the live recording, interestingly enough).


So, while listening to the live version of that very song - about "10,000 Years" - I see an online story headlined: “Installation begins on Jeff Bezos’ 10,000-year clock.”

The Amazon billionaire noted yesterday that “installation has begun” on the 500-foot-tall clock which is to be a clock “designed to be a symbol for long-term thinking” and was initially the brainchild of Danny Hillis, who came up with the idea in 1989.

The clock is being built inside a mountain in Sierra Diablo Range in West Texas. Bezos reportedly invested $42 million in the project. Note that number. Perhaps, in the future, like in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We will learn what everything is all about, Deep Thought supercomputer?

At least Bezos didn’t make the clock last for 7.5 million years …

As Bezos notes on his website: “Carved into the mountain are five room-sized anniversary chambers: 1 year, 10 year, 100 year, 1,000 year, and 10,000 year anniversaries. The one year anniversary chamber is a special orrery. In addition to the planets and the Earth's moon, it includes the interplanetary probes launched during the 20th century. The Clock will activate and run the orrery once a year on a pre-determined date at solar noon. We aren't planning to build the animations for the 100, 1,000, and 10,000 year anniversary chambers, but will instead leave those to future generations. We are providing a mechanical interface into those chambers that provides those future builders with power and the correct Clock triggering events.”

It's ambitious and interesting. And we know Jeff Bezos is a bit megalomaniacal. But he is correct in that human beings need to work on the "long view" of things. 

So, will the next 10,000 years be, as a young Ed Kowalczyk wrote more than 25 years ago, be "devoted to nothing" but "tomorrow and yesterday"? 

Will humanity eventually get it right? And will the 10,000 Year Clock be around to chime it up when we do? 

Guess most of us won't be around to find out.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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