But the idea of the clock of the Long Now is that it be understandable without stopping or disassembling it. But what about understanding it while it’s running? If you lose that, don’t you lose the purpose?
Why would anyone build a Clock inside a mountain with the hope that it will ring for 10,000 years? Part of the answer: just so people will ask this question, and having asked it, prompt themselves to conjure with notions of generations and millennia. If you have a Clock ticking for 10,000 years what kinds of generational-scale questions and projects will it suggest?
In the words of Stewart Brand, a founding board member of the foundation, "Such a clock, if sufficiently impressive and well-engineered, would embody deep time for people. It should be charismatic to visit, interesting to think about, and famous enough to become iconic in the public discourse. Ideally, it would do for thinking about time what the photographs of Earth from space have done for thinking about the environment. Such icons reframe the way people think."
The clock was conceived by a tech millionaire. It is funded by the world’s richest man, a tech billionaire. It is being built adjacent to his private spaceport, inside a mountain that he owns. You can visit the clock in the mountain in Texas someday. You can walk through its stainless steel doors, climb the staircase up to the clock face. You can turn the winding mechanism and hear one of Brian Eno’s chimes. The Long Now Foundation has a signup list—paid members get to jump the line—for tours that are scheduled to begin “many years into the future.” There’s another, quicker way to get in, though: Just ask Jeff Bezos for an invite when you see him at Davos, or ask a board member of the Long Now Foundation for an introduction.