What Survives Time?5 min read

Our brain is amazing. It is both the centre and the end of the universe, or more specifically, our universe. It enables us to use our bodies, use it (the brain), and even devised the concept of the individual. Now the sum of our parts is a whole identifiable entity, run by a complex computational machine in our heads. During some stage of evolution emotions were created. We now ‘feel’. We can think of these feelings just as a means for the brain to communicate with the whole body (the brain included), so that resources could be used more effectively. However, during our evolution our brains have grown so powerful that it can even be used to manipulate itself and others. Think about it; you can create a song, and by playing that song to someone you can make that someone ‘feel’ something. Something out of the ordinary. The question is, how this manipulation of the brain is responsible for the survival of its creations. Not just works of art, but everything. Why is it some inventions/creations are used and/or regarded as paramount to anything else in its category even after many years? …

Photo by: Sergio Morchon
Photo by: Sergio Morchon

As is necessary, we begin with what it takes to create something. It can be very successfully argued that conflict and necessity are the main factors of the ingenuity of human beings. You can trace many (if not all) inventions and works of art to its creators’ struggle. Wright brothers wanted a more efficient transport method. Blues singers expressed their disdain for their (then) owners, subsequently their loves lost. Linus wanted world ruled by open sourced  technologies. These creations can be hobbies, life purposes, or just random expressions, yet sometimes over time they become more than their creators. They become a definition of a time. The time before a dude called Jesus. A time before electricity. A time before television. That unimaginable time before the internet.

The question is why?

Among the millions of portraits painted, why is the Mona Lisa still famous? How come Michael Jackson produced Thriller before I was born yet it still rivals any song produced today, or whenever in the future? How come the toilet bowl in today’s design is the prevalent method of initial excrement collection? How come the Bible has been on the bestseller lists the longest?

This is a question for the ages, literally. A creation happens, and something clicks in our heads, and we’re in love with it, forever. Passed on through generations. The first point that needs to be considered is efficiency. All these evergreen creations have this in common. Their purpose is fulfilled in the most efficient way possible. The Mona Lisa lures you in with the enigmatic smile, and the more you stare the more you’re lured into Da Vinci’s world. From the grave he’s still pressing on people’s part of the brain that deals with the perception of others’ point of view. With a picture. Not even one word. You look at it, and in milliseconds it’s done. There is no more efficient way of travelling other than flying. Legions of lands and seas are leapt in mere hours. Confusion may be had in this case when comparisons are limited to only the monetary aspect. Adding the temporal aspect (and its conversion into monetary value) sufficiently clears the triumphs flying has over other modes of transportation.  Billions of moods are improved when they hear that Thriller sound. And anyone can contribute and shape the future or its use of open source software. Undoubtedly efficiency is one of the most important factors. (We could philosophise and go deeper and spin everything and end it with efficiency, but for the sake of the majority of the readers’ lack of attention, it’s best not to go down that route).

Another point that can be considered is ingenuity. Time defying works usually have something special about it, that it takes a special someone to create it. It can be a very intricate creation (i.e. a philosophical fictional book preaching social order), or a very simple one (i.e. a four legged chair). These prevalent creations are either a work of art that inspire and awe people, or a simple “why didn’t I think of that” solution. Therefore creativity as with every advance in life must be a necessity in timeless creations.

It is difficult to determine the necessity of the voids that are filled by these creations. They can either be of extreme importance when they are created, or they can be another drop in the ocean. Electricity as a method of energy transfer is one of the important ones, whereas a song, or a painting is just another one added to the collection. A hammer since its inception has always been a hammer, in every iteration; whereas the fifth symphony is just another (dare I say) song in the catalogue. Although both are universally known. When a book is written, we can’t actually say that we needed that story. It can be the best story in the world, although until created, it can’t be deemed a necessity. On the other hand, people needed an efficient method of communication and created paper.  Of course the essential life changing creations will live. They change the game. Put humanity on a different level. What about the unnecessary creations? Why do they live? Will this blog post live into eternity? It’s difficult even to imagine that. So, why the hell is Romeo & Juliet so famous? It’s just another play.  Thus necessity is not essential in creating a death defying piece.

It’s interesting to think about our daily lives and wonder what will live. What will future generations still be using. Whether the distant will be a sci-fi movie or just a marginal improvement of today. Some things we know are destined for certain death (i.e. Justin Bieber-like music, fossil fuels, analog tele-communication). Will Banksy’s art pieces still be relevant? Will The Godfather still be a valued movie? Will we still have four wheeled cars? The changes will improve on efficiency and be ingenious. They may be necessary, they may not. Time will tell.

*Will update this post if time travel becomes possible. So, tune in.

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  1. Very nice website Partin!

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