Sunday, August 21, 2016


Ecclesiastes is a book from the old testament. I think it is a useful and interesting philosophical text. It's about impermanence and describes the futility of so many human endeavors. 

Recent events in my life have drawn me to this text and it has helped guide the direction of my artwork. 

Permanence of human structures is an illusion

You probably know some of this text. It's the lyrics of the Byrds song "Turn, Turn, Turn". It's the source of the expression "vanity of vanities; all is vanity."

Ecclesiastes narrator has seen and done much in this world.  He has acquired wealth and knowledge and yet he sees all these achievements as "vanity and striving after the wind". 

Struggling against impermanence is striving after wind

Here's a description from Rami Shapiro: "It says that life is fleeting, that everything dies and nothing lasts, and that neither power nor money nor prestige nor fame nor even wisdom will save you in the end."

Ecclesiastes shows that everything is impermanent and struggling against this emptying leads to anguish.  Life is constantly showing me this lesson. Nothing lasts; everything comes to an end. 

So what's the answer?  In Ecclesiastes, there is no way to overcome chaos. One must accept impermanence and find joy in simple daily life and work.  Struggling to establish futile permanence only leads to suffering. 

Accept impermanence

For an excellent interpretation of Ecclesiastes, read Rami Shapiro's book.

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