Neal Stephenson's nearly thousand page tome Anathem was inspired in part by Long Now's 10,000 Year Clock project, and so a collaboration on the launch event was a natural fit. With over 900 in attendance the evening began with a performance of the elaborate math based chanting created for the book by composer David Stutz. Neal Stephenson then took the stage to read the first few pages of Anathem, and afterward he was joined on stage by Stewart Brand and Danny Hillis for a discussion about the book and Long Now.
Stephenson has been a friend of Long Now since its inception, even contributing some early ideas for the Clock itself. He has travelled to both Clock sites with Stewart Brand, Danny Hillis and Alexander Rose to get as much back story on the project as possible. Anathem takes place in another literary world entirely, but Stephenson does use much of the actual mechanisms that we have designed, and spins out a world in which 10,000 year clocks are not just an idea, but part of the civilizational fabric. Long Now's primary reason for building a monument scale icon to long-term thinking has always been to inspire new myths. Having one of the first of those myths created by Stephenson has not only been an honor, but a real instruction in how such a world might play out.
The evening also included a demonstration of "shovel-fu" a new martial arts form invented within the pages of Anathem, as well as a mathematical chanting exercise run by David Stutz at the end of the night.
You can read more about the connections between Anathem and Long Now on our site.-- by Alexander Rose