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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, November 03, 2006
    Time is a subject now

    Well, they only gave him twenty minutes which was hardly enough - especially for a man accustomed to thinking in terms of the next 10,000 years. And he had to compete with fireworks going off outside. Nevertheless it was very good to see Eno and hear him deal with the question, 'Has our intelligence kept up with our power?' The first response to that would be to look at the (ab)uses of power framing today's world and answer, it can't have done, no. But Eno is an optimist and he used his platform to celebrate some 'counter-intuitive' trends and movements from the grassroots which are shaping the world differently.

    Most of these are web-based and will be familiar to the reader: Wikipedia, moveon.org, Open Source, YouTube, etc. And these, like the lesser-known Margate Exodus with which Eno was involved, demonstrate something he calls 'bottom-up art', projects and systems produced by communities. Communities which may have been drawn together by the originator of the project but who then form something quite deep, strong and lasting. That rings true to me, having formed some strong ties and generated activities with various other people through blogging. And Eno celebrated the success of his and David Byrne's online project - posting all the multitracks on two of the songs from My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, for anyone to 'edit, remix, sample and mutilate' any way they like. The consequences have been fantastic, as you can hear.

    Much of the effectiveness of such new-technological cultural movements comes through their creative use of speed, Eno said (citing eg flashmobbing as an example). An audience member afterwards pointed out the contrast between Eno's enthusiasm for speed and his championing of the Long Now. To which he replied, essentially, that Time is a subject which people are concerned with now, whereas previously it was just taken for granted. Ah, yes, time does seem to be of the essence: in a week where the government were awoken to the seriousness of our climatic condition Eno quoted a recent lecture by Lester Brown in which he suggested that the world now is like Soviet Russia was in 1988 - solid, stuck and virtually unaware of the impending massive changes about to take place.

    I could go on but I won't because you can listen to the lecture via the Free Thinking site. Except to say that after a brief but vibrant lecture, Eno has left me with a good list of fascinating new links to explore. Which is typical of a man whose restless search for new inventive directions has been a stimulus for my own far humbler quest for many, many years.