All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind!
I’ve always loved stories. As a kid, I carried books with me everywhere, reading in the car, disappearing under racks of clothes while my parents shopped. I lay on the floor in front of the TV for hours, re-watching my favorite movies on loop, soaking up mindless cartoons, watching another dumb sit-com with a book pressed close to my face. Stories were a way to meet new people, to break into their lives, to learn about the world I was still too young to experience.
As individuals, as a culture, stories are the tools we use to define ourselves. We remember our victories and our failures. The things we’ve done, the people we were with and the things that matter to us. They let us outsource our memories, preserving our experiences, our identities against our inevitable disappearance.
Or at least, that’s what we hope.
But the Preacher of Ecclesiastes reminds us not even our stories will last. They will all be forgotten. We will be forgotten. In the central line from the passage I’ve chosen, the Preacher writes, “There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.”
The piece I’m working on for my residency with Spark & Echo is about people who are trying to change that. I’m beginning from the premise that our memories, our minds, are nothing more than information. And if they’re information, then they can be downloaded. Just as it’s a fact that, one day, we’ll all wake to find ourselves in the grave, there’s a part of each of us that’s terrified of that fact. If technology were to tell us we could archive our memories, make a copy to be preserved in perpetuity, vanishingly few of us might miss the opportunity.
So then, who will to do the work of downloading us? Where do we go once we’re copied? And what if we change our minds? I’m still not sure where the story I’m writing is going. But I know that’s where it will start.
See Chris’ previous short film created for Spark and Echo Arts, “Carried from Jericho,” here.
See Chris’ artist bio here.
These images are copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.
Help more artists create works on biblical text by donating to Spark and Echo Arts.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™