monuments.

Once out of a light-polluted area — with your eyes fully adjusted to the dark — it gets harder, not easier, to identify the brightest stars: whatever used to shimmer through obscuration now drowns in a thick starry soup. The habitual mindfog of the pre-Change human fostered a preoccupation with “universal geniuses”: unbridgeable gaps separated the deified classics from the rest; now, in a more transparent air, the giants remain loved but are not nearly as towering — the wasteland of the past has spawned grass. We have perfected our memory for names, amassed overdetailed Knowledge, learned to read slowly: an urge to adore the artist isnt gone but the instinct of yelling with the crowd is; with cultures increasingly fragmented, epidemic veneration as known from history gets harder to come by — indeed to imagine (“an entire infrastructure of idolization dismantled”). Accreting livedness, collaborativity, the bloom of new lives still beget new books (light new stars) but the scale distribution has flattened — “as has the world.” ■    Emotional attachment cherishes material symbols — and yet “monuments have dissolved,” gone all the way from portentous figures with quotations and lower-rank deities on pedestals to something you wont notice if you dont look for it. Human material culture — as culture in general — went, metaphorically, from monotheism to pantheism to atheism; increasingly, memory needs no material pegs at all: “relife is the best monument.” ■    Deep in the woods, in mountain valleys, on the sea floor, in old citiess nooks (never on the squares) — in unmarked places with unrecorded coordinates — “humble humanoid” memorials still stand: life-size, no pedestals or fences, anthropomorphic but never too lifelike; many, over the years, became anchors of local lores. The statues are wearless — but human images are anything but: the age of bodied effigies is long past, what displaced them was symbols: eternalized tangible tokens of a life, canon, single work, single line; big or small, embedded into a location or rethinged out of something already there, symbol memorials push hard-to-find into hard-to-notice. ■    Compilers enabled inscribing, as atom-scale fill patterns, data and art into everyday things (“the entire Knowledge of the epoch is retrievable many times over from its landfills”); initially it was a pattern poisoning fix to prevent entropy voids, but compiled tools were often rethinged into pocket memorials — “a pen tip with all Shakespeare” — with microscopic ubiquity feeding monumental awe. Since then many stationary memorials store, indestructibly, their cultures master sources — a base canon and namespace, the entire tip of a cone — ceremonially guarded and infrequently updated by (sometimes hereditary) maintainers.  ■    “Nature as temple”: classic works have been steganographed, at maximum redundancy, into some of the less accessible nature spots (often mountains); recently, macrocompiler experiments seek to make such recordings not just imperceptible but perpetuating, indefinitely, “at zero artificiality” — so a “nature text” (cf. Nature Mind) would self-sustain and error-correct by purely natural processes; currently that takes inordinately vast spaces (a continents shore to encode one line of a poem) which limits what could be immortalized in this way.

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