Eno’s Long Now

June 23rd, 2004 2:48 AM

I just started reading Brian Eno’s A Year With Swollen Appendices and it’s wonderful. As it turns out, WorldChanging just posted a link to a talk Brian Eno gave last November for the Long Now Foundation’s seminars on long-term thinking.

To paraphrase Sean M. Burke, who incidentally is the person who turned me on to Eno’s book through quotations, I command all within the sound of my voice to read The Long Now.

The entire document is worth quoting, but I’ll settle for a story Eno relates as an example of past Long Now thinking paying off:

Well there’s one very famous example, it’s an English example, there’s a college in Oxford called New College, which was built about five hundred years ago. The college is a big high building and it has very thick oak beams to support the ceiling. About twenty years ago those beams started to appear to be in such bad condition that it was necessary to replace them, so the dean of the college said to the head gardener - because Oxford has a lot of lands and forests, actually all over England — “We need a lot of oaks - what shall we do?” And the gardener said when they built that college they planted a grove of oaks, to replace those beams, and so they had been planted five hundred years in advance of their need — so that’s a kind of long term thinking. I don’t know that anybody is doing that kind of thing now.

Go. Read.