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Today I watched the sun rise from behind the Downs. It looked like some dual fuel cooker had broken free of its suburban prison, reds, blues, and yellows smeared across the sky, swilling syncopated flames. From my window you can see a clump of trees, only just peeking over the crest; I call it "my sacred grove" and like to imagine it guards a gruesome and ancient mystery. It's impossible to tell at this distance what the trees are, but they are straight and slender - a picket fence against the encroaching horizon.

Now it's winter their branches are bare, and with the early light bleeding from below and behind they glow like a warm fishnet stocking crumpled on the backbone of the recumbent ridge. I watched the light change through their twiggy latticework and felt drawn out of myself, pulled like chewing gum by a point just behind my breastbone, all the way into the sun in the trees and beyond, the sky, the purple cloud wisps, the sea...

This is a landscape that takes root inside you rather than the other way around, you find yourself wanting to belong in it. The whiteness of the chalk so tantalizingly just under the surface suddenly calls to you to be scratched like an itch. I want to stand a lasting mark of myself next to some cattle grid; a stone, a scar, a love affair.

One day I will leave my house and walk across the fields to my sacred grove. There I will find a parking lot, a picnic table, maybe some discarded lager cans; but for now I can look at it from my bedroom and silently perform my motionless morning ritual.

If all - or maybe just most of us - were to vanish from the planet tomorrow - this daylog would not exist in a few hundred years.

I watched an intriguing special last night on the History Channel called "Life After People" and basically it was about what would happen to everything - animals, builidngs, houses, cars, our former pets, our records, etc. if we all suddenly vanished (the How there wasn't important, beside the point). I will not go into great detail here about the special, that is for a different node. But it had me thinking... say something did happen, our civilization ended, be it from super volcano eruption, cosmic gamma ray burst, asteroid impact, or a terrible disease, if there aren't enough people (or none at all) left to maintain anything, all records of our current civilization will be gone in at least a few centuries, a thousand years at the most. All of it. No exceptions. There will be nothing left. No current methods of archiving would suffice. If some humans survive to rebuild a civilization like ours now at some point ten, maybe a hundred thousand years from now, their archeologists would probably only finds remnants of civilizations that are ancient to us now, like the Egyptian pyramids. The only thing they'd find from the 20th century would be Mount Rushmore. It would be an enigma to them to say the least with absolutely nothing to put it into context. All the history books will have long since turned to dust and all electronic records will have degraded.

So ponder on it. No books. No art (look at how much effort it takes to restore and maintain The Last Supper or the Mona Lisa). No motion pictures (celluloid film turns to crap in a very short amount of time without controlled temperature conditions). No videos. No photographs. No music or other audio recordings. No computers, CDs, DVDs, cell phones, PDAs, flash drives, or any device that either starts with "e" or "i" will have any useful information still stored on them, if anything at all, even if these things are found, which is unlikely. Because all of our cities will become jungles once again. Mother Nature will reclaim the land. Yes, all the buildings will eventually fall, rot, and turn back into the elements we had made them from. And those jungles will be cut down again to build cities for our replacements, whoever they will be.

What are we to do about this??

The answer is simple. We need to do what the ancient Mayans did. The ancient Egyptians.

Carve or paint records into/onto stone.

Let’s find a big mountain out there. I dunno. Somebody who knows mountains better than I do can pick. Or several mountains. Or maybe we could use the Grand Canyon. There could be teams. One could be devoted to the dictionaries of the major world languages, carve the words into the stone (and wherever it’s reasonable to do so put little pictures next to the words to put them into context). Another could write a summary history. Another could be devoted to numbers like statistics, financials, or sports. Anyway, you get the idea. There’s no guarantee that even this will survive. There is erosion. But it’s a lot better than what we have going now in terms of archiving. And yes this could take a hundred years or so.

Somebody with more time – and ambition – should spearhead this.

No, I’m serious.

No, really, I’m serious.


Let me leave you with this intriguing question, my E2 friends. What if there was an advanced civilization before us who had the same short-sightedness in terms of preservation of their records and culture? Hmmm. There have been weird anomalies found that suggest this.

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