"Without Him, who can eat and find enjoyment?" - Ecclesiastes 2:25
Shane and I just finished the second day of the Robert McKee Story Seminar. It's been very informative and helpful, and I look forward to going back and reading "The Song" after what I've learned here.
McKee is very brazen in his opinions on a wide variety of issues. Today he semi-lamented that good stories in cinema seem to be more and more rare. He says when he was a kid it was a couple a week, now it's a couple a year. He basically attributed this to Western decedance (though, I'm sure some would dismiss his diagnosis as nostalgia).
He basically said Western life is too easy to produce good stories en masse. Westerners don't work anymore...well, not real work. He said studies show that only about two hours of actual work get done in an eight hour work day. Technology, education, and affluence have given us a lot of leisure time, which has given us opportunities to reflect, which makes us realize how terribly unhappy we are. And, a lot of our stories reflect that personal and pervasive unhappiness.
He went on to say that the spectre of death should be a sufficient motivator for us to get out of the chair and get something done...writing a good story, specifically and that writers know that life is really meaningless.
Wow. It was almost...almost...like listening to a New York paraphrase of Ecclesiastes.
As I've told people that "The Song" leans very heavily on Ecclesiastes as source material, I've lost count of how many people have indicated that that is one of their favorite books, if not their very favorite book, in the Bible. Despite the books timelessness, I suppose one could dismiss this as a trend, but enough people have said it to make me wonder if there's just "something in the air" in this age in which we live that makes that book really resonate.
I think part of it is that it provides a sobering and yet comforting alternative to the "too blessed to be stressed" facade that often permeates American Evangelicalism. But, listening to McKee, it hit me...
The West, at many class levels, is full of Solomons -comparatively affluent, educated, leisure-lovers, who have easy access to comforts and experiences that the ancient king could not have foreseen, and who have time to sit and reflect and realize that they are utterly miserable and wonder why all their possessions, achievements, relationships (actual or digital), and experiences simply have not satisfied the deepest longings of their heart.