I am a big fan of Emily St. John Mandel’s book Station Eleven. I am currently watching HBO’s excellent adaption of the book.
Published in 2014, the book imagines a future shaped by a devastating global pandemic. Its focus is less on the trauma of the event than the ways in which the survivors rebuild their lives. Much of the book takes place twenty years after the pandemic kills off much of the population and focuses on The Symphony, a group of actors and musicians who travel around the Great Lakes region playing music and performing the works of Shakespeare. On the side of one of their buggies is painted the line, “Survival Is Insufficient.” The quote, which originates from Star Trek: Voyager, perfectly encapsulates the author’s belief that, even when the chips are down, humans require more than safety, shelter, and food. In the post-apocalyptic world of Station Eleven, there are plenty of reasons to die. Art gives the characters a reason to live.
The last two years have been a reminder of this truth. To really live in this God-created world, we need art, music, dance, poetry, novels. Survival is insufficient. At various times during the course of the pandemic, we missed some forms of art such as going to museums, hearing live music, in-person book club gatherings. And we discovered new ways of connecting with art such as online concerts, zoom choirs, video tours of art collections. And some of us are creating art ourselves in ways that we didn’t before the pandemic. And we were reminded of the power of the arts to create meaning and connection and provide comfort.
What art has sustained you in the last two years? What art are you creating these days?
-Written by Rev. Amy Miracle
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