As I whimsically experimented in designing a new logo, the hourglass (an overlay of the letters X,Y,Z) struck me.
Time is precious. Time marches onwards. The end is inevitable.
An awareness of death, for me, is a viscerally clarifying function.
Strip away the distracting noise of the present and make clear what matters in light of eternity.
Years later I stumbled upon the concept of memento mori, and realized I had been led to a logo both visually striking and symbolically complete.
The ADRW Hourglass // memento mori
A memento mori (Latin 'remember that you [have to] die') is an artistic or symbolic reminder of the inevitability of death. The expression 'memento mori' developed with the growth of Christianity, which emphasized Heaven, Hell, and salvation of the soul in the afterlife.
In other words, "remember death" or "remember that you will die".
The 2nd-century Christian writer Tertullian claimed that during his triumphal procession, a victorious general would have someone (in later versions, a slave) standing behind him, holding a crown over his head and whispering "Respice post te. Hominem te memento" ("Look after you [to the time after your death] and remember you're [only] a man.").
All memento mori works are products of Christian art. In the Christian context, the memento mori acquires a moralizing purpose quite opposed to the nunc est bibendum (now is the time to drink) theme of classical antiquity. To the Christian, the prospect of death serves to emphasize the emptiness and fleetingness of earthly pleasures, luxuries, and achievements, and thus also as an invitation to focus one's thoughts on the prospect of the afterlife. A Biblical injunction often associated with the memento mori in this context is In omnibus operibus tuis memorare novissima tua, et in aeternum non peccabis (the Vulgate's Latin rendering of Ecclesiasticus 7:40, "in all thy works be mindful of thy last end and thou wilt never sin.")
Timepieces were formerly an apt reminder that your time on Earth grows shorter with each passing minute. Public clocks would be decorated with mottos such as ultima forsan ("perhaps the last" [hour]) or vulnerant omnes, ultima necat ("they all wound, and the last kills"). Even today, clocks often carry the motto tempus fugit, "time flees". Old striking clocks often sported automata who would appear and strike the hour; some of the celebrated automaton clocks from Augsburg, Germany had Death striking the hour. The several computerized "death clocks" revive this old idea. Private people carried smaller reminders of their own mortality. Mary, Queen of Scots owned a large watch carved in the form of a silver skull, embellished with the lines of Horace, "Pale death knocks with the same tempo upon the huts of the poor and the towers of Kings."
1Vita brevis breviter in brevi finietur,2Mors venit velociter quae neminem veretur,3Omnia mors perimit et nulli miseretur.4Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus.56 Life is short, and shortly it will end;7 Death comes quickly and respects no one,8 Death destroys everything and takes pity on no one.9 To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.1011Ni conversus fueris et sicut puer factus12Et vitam mutaveris in meliores actus,13Intrare non poteris regnum Dei beatus.14Ad mortem festinamus peccare desistamus.1516 If you do not turn back and become like a child,17 And change your life for the better,18 You will not be able to enter, blessed, the Kingdom of God.19 To death we are hastening, let us refrain from sinning.