Sitting today wondering, is impermanence itself becoming a passing thing?
The concept that “all things will pass” and that “nothing lasts forever” has always been true. However the universe came into being, it’s pretty clear it’s vastly different now then it was then. Stars, planets, and galaxies have come and gone for the majority of time. Time has been the inevitable victor at every turn thus far in history, conquering everything that’s come in it’s path.
But now I ponder….is time/impermanence meeting its match?
While in a relatively fragile position right now, consciousness has so far been evolving in one direction: towards greater depth and complexity. Out of that evolving consciousness, I think the greatest interruption to the Kosmos has been Art & Technology. Two sides of the same thing – an attempt to defy impermanence.
Language, Writing, Music, Painting: our oldest forms of technology/art – and all direct attempts to circumvent impermanence. All tools to allow us to communicate through time, and pass knowledge, structures, and insight intact in a permanent way.
Now initially this was down more more symbolically – figurative ideas and concepts that have survived through the ages.
Then came the 19th century, and the first manifestations of Mechanical Reproduction.
Since that time mechanical reproduction has exploded exponentially, and doesn’t look like it’ll be stopping anytime soon.
Consider that until the birth of audio recording, throughout all human history no one had ever heard exactly the same song. Even the most perfect classical performance or brilliant bard literally couldn’t ever play the same song the same way twice. Be it tempo, pitch, tuning of the instrument, in every piece there’s millions of variations to make each performance different.
Now consider that the 2 minutes and 32 seconds from February 11th, 1963 that are the Beatles recording of Twist and Shout and likely literally be replayed millions of times since then, and will probably continue being replayed for eternity.
Photos, videos, music, and other structures that can be translated into mechanical reproduction are fighting back against time. Standing defiantly against impermanence, and really only just beginning. The oncoming tidal wave of 3d printing and Virtual Reality will allow structures to survive in even more comprehensive and predictable ways.
That said, we’re still at a very fragile point in time, where all the cumulative depth and information of consciousness thus far could be wiped out by a simple asteroid, temperature shift, or who knows what other kind of catastrophe.
But around the corner, is the very real and distinct moment where information storage becomes possible at quantum levels, and humanity creates backups of our culture by settling other planets.
The biosphere celebrates diversity, chaos, and difference. The technosphere though, celebrates uniformity and replication.
While all signs would still point to time winning in the long run, it’s fun to see art and technology continually emerging in resistance.