Reading from Annie Dillard’s Teaching a Stone to Talk, and discussing how understanding the past helps to preserve the future.
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Our inability to think long-term is encapsulated in a system we barely notice: the way that we write the year. Implicit in the number ‘2023’ is that when we get to 9999, there’s nowhere left to go. We’ve programmed into our lives that we can’t imagine beyond eight thousand or so years into the future, which is nothing in the grand scheme of a geological age. The Long Now is an organization that writes the date with an extra digit. Alternatively, it’s written as ‘02023,’ expanding our ‘now’ from a ten thousand-year span, to one that’s a hundred thousand years. This change has allowed me to stop staring a few feet ahead of me, eyes fixed to the path, and instead look to the horizon and remember the bigger game afoot.
Peter Brannen is an author and science journalist, contributing to The Atlantic, The New York Times, Washington Post, and others.
Peter reads two pages from ‘Teaching a Stone to Talk’ by Annie Dillard. [reading begins at 10:40]
Hear us discuss:
- “Unless you’re aware of what you’re looking at, you go around the world blind to what’s been lost.” [5:15]
- Maintaining a sense of awe and adventure. [16:00]
- Is having a meaningful life worth it? [18:40]
- Understanding the Earth’s precarity: “The more I study Earth, the more I come to realize our cosmic luck.” [22:13]
- Discovering the essentials of life on Earth. [26:45]
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Peter Brannen | Website | Twitter | The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions
Annie Dillard | Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters
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