Survival is Insufficient

If “survival is insufficient,” as it says on the lead caravan of the Travelling Symphony what makes life sufficient enough to live? What, according to Mandel, is worth living for, and, thus, worth dying for?

25 thoughts on “Survival is Insufficient

  1. In high school, I was in cross country and track. My coach always told me that it’s not just surviving the workouts that will help me become faster but living and learning from them. Just surviving each and every practice, each and every race, doesn’t help improve because it is just merely putting in the minimum effort. It’s not enough. In order to do better, become faster, it is up to you to work hard, put in your absolute maximum effort, and do the best that you can do. My point is, doing the minimum, just surviving, is not worth it. If you’re just going to survive, you won’t notice what’s around you or what you are capable of. Everyone has family and friends who encourage you to do your best and that is what makes life sufficient enough to live. Love. Love from your friends, love from your family who just want the best for you which is also for you to do your best. According to Mandel, I believe that the people that you love, such as Kirsten’s Traveling Symphony, is what is worth living and dying for. They are the ones that are always there for you, in both the good times and the bad times.

  2. People are curious. People want to learn. That phrase ” you learn something knew everyday” is kind of true, because experience in life is what gives people the most knowledge. Life is worth living if you have the ability to learn what good times and bad times are like, and how you cope with them. As long as you have to freedom to do that, one should be able to have a pretty good life. Sayid loses that ability when he is taken prisoner by the Prophet and his men. He feels no reason to continue living until Kirstin and August come and save him. Same with Captain Kirk from The Original Series of Star Trek, in the episode “This Side of Paradise”, where the crew of The Enterprise are taken under the spell of a flower that makes them happy all the time on this one planet. Kirk does not enjoy this lifestyle since he cannot experience the different sides of life by being under this spell forever. So he disrupts the spell and gets everyone back on board. Paradise truly is not for everyone, since paradise does not let one truly live.

  3. Most everyone can agree that there is more to life than merely surviving. Beyond the basic needs of food, water, and shelter there is something else that motivates us to get up every morning; it is the hope to find connection. Most of what we do is fueled by the desire to find these things. Though many people could satisfy their physical needs independently, we chose not to and instead, riskily, share the responsibilities of survival with others in the hope that we may find a deeper connection with those we share with, we see possibility in them.
    Relationships are usually built on shared interests or perspectives. The symphony is connected by their love for performance and likely by an unspoken restless nature which propels them to keep traveling. Underneath the broad community of the symphony there are individual friendships and relationships, which are what Kirsten is willing to die for. For the entirety of the story Kirsten is searching for her friends, at first it is just Charlie, followed by Sayid and then the whole symphony save August. Though she could easily survive without any of these people she risks her life and is prepared to die to find and protect them. Why would she do this if not because she finds great meaning in the bonds she’s built with them?
    Arthur is less lucky and less faithful in his relationships than Kirsten, but he is still driven by his desire for connection. Though he abandons friends and lovers easily, he does so only after being lured into what he perceives as a potentially deeper and more meaningful connection. Even after several failed marriages, and friendships that have dissipated or were only ever one sided Arthur is still hoping to be close to his son, he is ready to put all of his energy and effort into creating a life with him.
    Mandel argues that human connection is needed for human life to really persist beyond mere survival and the passing on of genes. The book heavily focuses on the characters’ interpersonal relationships and the weight they carry in each individual’s wellbeing, all of which seems to accurately reflect real life. In the hours leading up to Arthur’s death, he is thinking of the relationships he wished he’d fostered more and as Kirsten starts down the barrel of a shotgun she is comforted by the thought that her death could spare those she cares about. In Mandel’s post-apocalyptic, and in our own current world, all anyone is trying to do is feel connected, even if survival is put at risk.

  4. Survival is something we do so we can live. I don’t wake up every morning and think “I’m going to survive my life today,” I think “I’m going to live my life today.” To live is to experience and feel. Joy, depression, serenity, calm, upset, shaken, excited, nervous; it’s feelings like these that make up our lives. The time we spend traveling from place to place in our lives without out feeling something is when we’re just surviving; when we’re just “high-functioning sleepwalkers.” Imagine living in a settlement after the Georgia Flu, during year 15 or year 20. For the most part, your life would consist of the same routine each day: Eat, work, eat. work, eat, sleep, and would only occasionally be punctuated by interesting events or gossip. After a few days of that, everything falls into a cycle; we don’t need to think to perform the same mind-numbing work each day so, to make time go faster and to protect our sanity, we don’t. That’s survival, that’s going day-to-day without taking the time to experience your own life as it flies by you. The Traveling Symphony brings life back to those people, injecting emotion and passion back into the zombies the people of the settlements had inevitably become; bringing them back to life, reminding them how much they love their lives. The presence of the Symphony would remind the people of the towns to live, and rejuvenates the populace, putting a spring in their step and a smile on their face; they remind everyone about why they survive: so they can live. They send their message of life because they have to, because they can’t imagine surviving without living; because to them, survival without living is well and truly insufficient. Without taking time to live, what’s the point of surviving?

  5. Before the collapse, Jeevan Chaudhary is merely surviving. As a paparazzo, he stalks celebrities for photos from which he can make a profit, yet he despises his line of work. Before tricking Miranda into a photo, which he will later capitalize on, he tells her that he lives for “truth and beauty,” (102). However, by working meaningless jobs to make ends meet, he is solely trying to survive. It is only when he becomes a paramedic, searching for the knowledge to help others, that he finds purpose in his life.

    I believe that this search for “truth and beauty” makes life worth living. In some cases, truth and beauty entail love and companionship felt by the company of others, such as the camaraderie of the Traveling Symphony. Other times, it means the search for understanding and knowledge of the meaning of life and why we are here. For example, Clark seeks to educate others on the true history of the pre-collapse era with his Museum of Civilization. The Traveling Symphony seek to share the beauty of literature and art from a time long gone by performing Shakespeare and musical concerts. They retain purpose and meaning in their lives by sharing the truth and beauty of the world they have lost with this new world, which they will help define. Without this search, there would be no goal to life other than merely surviving, a scary reality for those who lost everything from the Georgia flu.

  6. The context of this quote is from a Star Trek: Voyager episode, where Seven of Nine wants to eliminate Borg drones. She says that their survival is insufficient, and that the lack of individuality makes their lives worthless, or at least, not worth living

    The context that Mandel uses is slightly different. What I believe she is trying to say is that when we do not need to spend all of our time surviving–when we have leisure or free time–we need things to occupy our time. What kind of things? We need art and culture. We need entertainment. We need faith. Some, such as the Cult, turn to religion. Some, like the Symphony, turn to theater. When we moved from hunter-gather subsistence living, we grew to need these things, as well as a higher purpose. This purpose could be to help others, to improve living conditions, to raise children, to invent, to explore–whatever. Both of these things are needed to have life be worth living.

  7. The love Kirsten feels for her fellow Symphony members and the very purpose of the Travelling Symphony – to provide respite, albeit temporary, from the banal and basic, unstable and dangerous world which constitutes human civilization in the post pandemic era – equip Kirsten with the desire not only to exist but to truly live. In short, it is Kirsten’s recognition of someone and something beyond herself which provides her with the incentive to live as opposed to merely surviving. Survival composes the base, primal instincts and urges which drive human beings: physical necessities such as food, water, shelter, and the like. Survival justifies harming and even killing others to meet these basic needs. Truly living is the awareness that existing as a human being extends beyond whether or not one’s physical requisites are achieved; truly living is the recognition that a person or an object’s value is not wholly determined by its ability to alleviate a primal need; truly living is acknowledging the irrefutable and irrevocable value of imaginative entities such as art, literature, and music; truly living concerns the quality of one’s life. Through Station Eleven, Mandel contends that the entities and emotions both tangible and intangible which make living worthwhile and dying justifiable are those that remind humanity just why “survival is insufficient:” the beauty of art and its extraordinary ability to bring humanity together, the inexpressible love which human beings cultivate for one another, and the pursuit of overarching knowledge, morals, values, and ideals.

  8. “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
    This quote by Henry David Thoreau, although slightly deviated from the central theme of the novel Station Eleven, still draws on some parallels to “survival is insufficient”. Thoreau’s quote above is commenting on how doing the minimum required action to get by in life won’t have any true meaning to it. One can get by on basic primal instinct, but it is how one takes in the world around him or her that gives his or her life true meaning. It is one thing to see beauty, but it won’t have any meaning if one does not appreciate it for what it is.
    In the novel, the quote “survival is insufficient” draws on to a larger theme – that it is one thing to look out for oneself in order to survive death, but it is another to be able to do so while holding onto one’s humanity. I feel that the traveling symphony did just that – they held onto Shakespeare, they held onto their music, and they held onto other artifacts from the old world in order to remind themselves that staying alive is not sufficient on its own; remnants of the past civilization made them yearn to live lives that had meanings beyond merely living itself.
    Both “survival is insufficient” and the quote by Thoreau draw onto the theme of bringing meaning to one’s life, finding beauty in the world, and living above the archaic drive to survive by holding onto one’s morals and humanity.

  9. The idea that “survival is insufficient” often overlaps with the value of art. As her relationship with Andrew declines, Miranda relies heavily on her artwork to make life worth living (105). Her life is fine, she is surviving, but she does not belong in the hollywood life. However, she can alway find a home in her artwork. She creates art neither for the publicity nor the pay, she creates it because she loves it; because it gives her life meaning. There are so many people that merely “sleepwalk” through life, as Clark learns about while interviewing Dahlia (163). These sleepwalkers go through the motions of their jobs and their relationships because it is what is expected of them. They think they experience happiness, but really they just experience distractions from the charade that is their life. In our pre-apocalyptic world, there are so many expectations of what life is “supposed” to be that sleepwalking becomes natural. However, in the post-apocalyptic world of this novel, people begin to focus on the things that give their life meaning. Kristen and the rest of the Traveling Symphony devote their lives to each other, and to creating art (47). As dysfunctional as the group may be, the members are bound by their love for art. They share special moments together as they travel from town to town, performing Shakespeare, and share conversation. Many of the members are identified by their instrument, because that is what actually gives their lives meaning. The group has found happiness, which, unlike survival, is sufficient.

  10. The phrase “survival is insufficient” brought to my mind psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”. The first level in this hierarchy of needs, physiological needs, covers what it is to survive. When the need for food, water, and other essentials is met, this need is met. To survive is to merely exist, but to live is so much more than that. The next level of the hierarchy is safety needs, then belonging needs, esteem needs, and finally, self-actualization. It is the fulfillment of these needs that makes life sufficient enough to live.

    In Station Eleven, all of the post-pandemic characters seek to survive, but many of them are not satisfied with the way they are currently living. They constantly seek more, whether it be more food, more shelter, or more people. Because one level in their hierarchy of needs cannot be met, they cannot move onto the next level. However, when examining the characters of the Travelling Symphony, one finds that all of their meets are met. They have enough food, water, and shelter (physiological and safety). They all feel like they belong in the group (belonging). They have respect for themselves and from others (esteem). They each know their potential and actively seek to fulfill it by sharing their art and talent with others (self-actualization). The members of the Travelling Symphony find life sufficient enough to live and it all comes down to one thing: the other members. Without their cooperation, there would be no food, no caravans, no group. All of the members’ needs are met thanks to the other members so I think, according to Mandel, it is the people that we love and care about that makes life worth living.

  11. I would first like to make a comment about the structure of the novel. Character development and transitions in time are two of many factors that make a book interesting. Mandel facilitates seamless switches in time periods which leave room for a sense of foreboding as well as the chance for readers to see characters grow (literally, in Kirsten’s case).

    On page 25 and the surrounding pages, Jeeven buys a surplus of groceries and brings them over to his brother Frank’s apartment in anticipation of the flu pandemic. Mandel leaves the reader thinking that they’re safe and sound in Franks’s apartment until the near the end of the novel when Jeeven leaves his disabled brother to die in the apartment as he ventures out into the unknown, post-apocalyptic world. Kirsten has trouble recalling most memories of the pre-world since she was so young when the flu hit, but she can remember seeking refuge with her brother and staying by his side until he passed. These situations illustrate the importance of family, especially in times of fear.

    The Traveling Symphony seems to be a sort of family. There’s a cheesy quote that goes “friends are the family members you choose” and in a way, the Traveling Symphony is a group of people that come together with the similar interests of music and theater and become a family of friends. Friends are worth dying for. Kirsten’s love for Sayid, August, Dieter, and the entirety of the Symphony is expressed when she thinks of them before herself when confronted with the prophet on page 300. I would like to think that I would save a friend or family member before myself, but that situation has never arisen and hopefully never does.

    It’s probably easier to think about things that are worth dying for instead of things that are worth living for. I would die for those close to me. People in the military would die for their country. Firefighters would die to save someone else’s life. In “Station Eleven”, Kirsten and other characters would die for their friends and their family. However, it’s important to mention that they would also live for music and art. In a post-apocalyptic world such as the one described in “Station Eleven”, it would be easy to succumb to death. If you saw your parents and everyone important to you die, then it would be easy to want to die. But the Traveling Symphony didn’t take the easy way out, they overcame the harsh reality that everything that they ever knew was gone and came together. Through their musical performances and productions of Shakespearean plays, the Traveling Symphony brought light to their own lives as well as the lives of those who watched.

  12. Media, relatives, even strangers have told me that college and young adulthood are going to be the best time of my life. I am overjoyed to be a college student, but does quality of life have to decline after graduation? In “Station Eleven” during an interview, Dahlia states, “…adulthood’s full of ghosts” (163). Arthur, although the first to die, is an example of what adult life should be. When he first encounters Miranda, she tells him, “What a wonderful thing, to get paid for doing what you love”(78). Although Arthur’s relationships are subpar, his first priority is to do what he loves. He dies doing exactly that. The moment is so powerful that Kristen never forgets it, even though she forgets her own parents faces. She keeps her desire to act unmarred by responsibility, as a result of the epidemic.

    Jeevan on the other hand was never paid to do what he wanted. After discovering dinner party drama from Miranda, he tells her, “I live on that kind of gossip, actually. As in, it pays my rent. What I live for is something different”(102). However after attempting to save Arthur’s life he discovers his true calling of being a paramedic. He describes himself as feeling, “…extravagantly, guiltily alive”(11).

    The Traveling Symphony has found purpose and pleasure in what they do day to day. I believe Mandel is making a statement about our society. We should all strive to be a member of our own symphony. Whatever that may be. We should follow in Kristen’s footsteps in keeping our passions we’ve had from a young age and not be afraid to change careers like Jeevan. Find our own Dr. Eleven comic project, regardless of judgement. In our society people fall into the trap of merely surviving. After the Georgia Flu there’s not much holding people back from finding hobbies. They don’t have bills to pay or many obligations. Francois Diallo starts a newspaper(108), Clark forms the Museum of Civilization (258), the people stranded at the terminal learn new languages (252), someone in a far off settlement engineers and repairs an electrical grid giving everyone hope(311), and the Traveling Symphony preforms. In the post-apocalyptic world people have time for innovation, art, appreciation of the past, and relationships. In our fast paced world it’s hard to find time for these ‘surpluses’ to life, but we have the resources. We aren’t living with the Georgia Flu. We have ample opportunities to do more than just survive. The question is whether or not we take them. As to the prediction of falling into the routine of common, bland, adult life in a decade or so, “I’d prefer not to think that I’m following a script”(106).

  13. Most people have already commented on the life after the flu, and that people need more than food, water, and shelter in order to actually live, so I won’t bother repeating what many have said very eloquently.

    I would like to focus on the passage a few people have briefly mentioned — that of Clark and Dahlia (pg 162-163). Dahlia talks of people who are “disappointed” because they have “done what’s expected of them. They want to do something different but it’s impossible now, there’s … kids, whatever, they’re trapped.” Later she says that “The day’s just turned into another day, and you go on like that, looking forward to five o’clock and then the weekend and then your two or three annual weeks of paid vacation time, day in day out, and that’s what happens with your life.”

    This focuses much more on how “survival is insufficient” not just in a post- apocalyptic world, but in the current world we live in. It’s about so much more than work and obligations — it’s about having fun, being spontaneous, and fostering love and relationships. That’s what makes life worth living and stops everyone from becoming the person described by Dahlia. This is also relatable to us a college students; it’s not just about going to class, but truly learning, living, and experiencing.

  14. Survival, when used to describe a situation, implies the fulfillment of the bare essentials to live. That which makes life sufficient enough to live is a greater purpose, adding a goal or responsibility to a person’s life and giving a use to the higher consciousness that makes a person more than an evolved animal. In the book such greater purposes takes on many forms, most connected to the pre-collapse world. Two examples of such responsibilities as they appear in the book are Jeevan’s brother, Frank, finishing a biography he was contracted to write even though civilization had already collapsed and Francois Diallo, trying to create a new newspaper circulation in the post-collapse world. While their situations differ, both characters gave themselves a goal or responsibility beyond or transcending survival, to prove and reaffirm that the social complexities that existed in the pre-collapse world still exist and can be recreated. Frank and Diallo, while different in many ways, both came to the same conclusion, that “survival is insufficient”.

    According to Mandel, that which is worth living, and thus, worth dying for is the continuation and preservation of art as a reminder of what humanity has been, is, and can be. By performing the play and the symphonies of the pre-collapse world, the Traveling Symphony reminds those that they perform for of the creative depths that humanity can reach.

  15. There is something inherently exciting about going to see a play. You wonder what events will transpire. Which characters will you grow to hate or to love? Who will you feel sorry for or angry for? Which character will you relate to? Plays are interesting because unlike most forms of entertainment media these days they involve a direct relationship between the audience and the performers. Through this bond it is my personal belief that the actors can be more at ease with their interpretations of how certain characters should be performed. They use the sum total of their experiences, their joys, sorrows, troubles, and tribulations in order to reforge a long dead archetypal persona of the one they present to the audience. I believe that this transformation, as it were, would not be able to take place without a sense of contentment that comes from the environment of a live audience. If one stops to think about it, the actor is displaying his or her deepest self by using a mask to unmask their true feelings. They are literally bearing their soul to strangers. This is a profoundly powerful experience for both the actor and the observer. Through this bond human nature can be perceived ultimately as one focused on the sharing of emotion and wisdom that breaks through the social constraints that have become so prevalent in our modern society.

    It is interesting that the way Mandel introduces her Star Trek quote/super important theme is by first creating a scene in which Kirsten is acting during the Travelling Symphony’s adaptation of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Mandel tells us that Kirsten doesn’t feel more alive than when she performs. Mandel then samples a monologue that Titania gives to Oberon. In it she proclaims that […] the moon, the governess of floods, pale in her anger, washes all the air, that rheumatic diseases do abound. And through this distemperature, we see the seasons alter.”(58) Mandel then immediately follows this with the words “Because survival is insufficient”. The author clearly ties these two different quotations of script by using Star Trek to answer Shakespeare. Titania in the context of the novel is saying that horrible events occur, but through these horrible events change is brought about. Time passes and new years roll on by. Now one might wonder how can this be followed by survival is insufficient. That doesn’t really make much sense. Which in my opinion it won’t until one looks at the speaker Mandel used to voice this, Titania/Kirsten. Titania’s indignant refusal of Oberon becomes fused with Kirsten’s refusal to accept that there is nothing more to her life than her constant struggle with the world she lives in. This characterization added to Titania’s speech shows the reader that Titania/Kirsten is saying that even though horrible events occur in the world humans are not bound by these events to eternally suffer. Survival is insufficient, we were meant to do more than simply get by in moments of intense fear and violence. We were meant to thrive, laugh, love, enjoy and most importantly to share with each other. Life is not survival. Life is the sum total of all of our experiences as well as our present hopes and dreams. Life is about music, life is about freedom of choice, life is about forging new passions and then experiencing them with one another. Life ultimately is a stage in which we perform for strangers like the actor while using self-expression in order to reforge ourselves into the purest forms of our own thoughts, feelings, and spirits.

  16. To explain the phrase “survival is insufficient” one must look at both of the world that Mandel depicts: pre- and post-collapse. Before the flu, life is easy to live and survival is facilitated by technology and a global community. The characters that Mandel describes in this world are complacent and easily distracted from the things that make their lives truly meaningful. For example, Jeevan is in a relationship with a woman that doesn’t really make him happy, but because the rest of his life is relatively simple he allows the relationship to continue. Once Jeevan is living in the difficult post-apocalyptic world though, he finds that the thing that makes his existence a happy one is his wife. This is just one way that Mandel shows that love makes survival worthwhile.
    Art and community also appear to be worth living for according to Mandel. This is clearly indicated in a conversation between August and Kirsten when August asks: “”You ever think about stopping?” “You mean not traveling anymore?” “You ever think about it? There’s got to be a steadier life than this.” “Sure, but in what other life would I get to perform Shakespeare?”” (135)
    This illustrates the difference between surviving, living an easier life, and living. For Kirsten, performing and traveling with the Symphony is what makes her life meaningful. Mandel seems to be of the opinion that a meaningful life, that makes an individual happy, is worth living. Specifically she seems to advocate for love, art, and community in addition to survival in order to make life sufficient.

  17. The traveling Symphony sort of perplexed me throughout the entire novel. When humans are stripped down to their bare essentials how can 30 or so of them dedicate their entire lives to performing Shakespeare. I guess all of the symphony’s members truly believe “Survival is Insufficient,” and find their purpose to be theater. The thing that makes life worth living, and thus dying, is different for each individual on Earth. In short, it is one’s purpose, but it is much more complicated than that. I believe all of us were put here for a reason, and I hope I figure out that reason before I die because then my life would have been sufficient.

  18. The concept of “survival is insufficient” taps into one of our most base questions as a species: what separates humans from other animals? In the post-apocalyptic world that Station Eleven has created, it is all too easy for people to fall into a place where survival itself is completely sufficient, the people known as “ferals” are mentioned several times throughout the book. In the absence of society to provide a distance from more animalistic urges, these people have essentially regressed to animals. While the people in the townships who welcome the traveling symphony are not ferals, the members of the traveling symphony themselves represent the true opposites of the ferals. Right down to the motto on the side of the caravan, everything they do is in the service of providing something other than survival.

    Both the Symphony and the ferals spend their lives roaming around, searching for food and other essential items, in many ways, the Symphony and the ferals act as yin and yang to each other: one the most base example of the efficiency and freedom that pure survival requires and another the immense amount of work and organization that existing purely as a symbol of humanity and society requires.

  19. I’ve struggled for quite some time now trying to decide how best to contribute to this forum. Part of the problem I have is that, while these prompts might resonate with me intuitively, I don’t think that sort of intuition translates easily to a strictly intellectual paradigm. The claim that “survival is insufficient” is likely to draw murmurs of agreement from any audience of individuals, because it’s intuitively and subjectively true for those who have had profound encounters with the numinous. The idea of surviving without a sense of belonging or without being remembered is boring at best and terrifying at worst. But it’s easy to forget (or simply refuse to acknowledge) that each of those people, regardless of the vehemence with which they subscribe to numinous experience, is little more than a brain armored by a skeleton and sheathed in meat.

    It seems a fallacy to make these absolute claims about the human experience without addressing the problems with the paradigm that makes them operate. Until sufficient contrary evidence surfaces, I have no reason to believe that my intuitive belief in the importance of the human experience (or art, identity, community, etc…) is anything more than the byproduct of an intoxicating hormone cocktail that my body has formulated (to seemingly sabotage my love of facts).

    If you’ve followed me this far without firmly stamping “insufferable realist” on my forehead, you’ll understand why I struggle to derive meaning from this book. Beyond it being a beautifully written and consuming read (despite its flaws — why was it never addressed before the fight scene in clearing that Kirsten was a knife-throwing ninja? Don’t you realize you remove all tension from an action sequence when your protagonist suddenly has superpowers?), I can’t say I believe it has intrinsic value. I think it’s more than enough to appreciate fiction for being engaging, or perhaps for its relevance in a given zeitgeist, without imposing meaning on it.

  20. Survival is insufficient. I recognized this line immediately when it was pointed out at Introducktion. (My dad is a huge Trekkie). According to Seven of Nine, the owner of the quote, individuality and freedom is what makes life sufficient. She would prefer living for one month as an individual with her own thoughts, than a whole eternity as one of the Borg, which would essentially make her a cog in a vast machine.
    To Mandel, it is art that makes life worth living. Dieter told Kirsten that “People want what was best about the world” (38). The Traveling Symphony found that to be Shakespeare, and performance art. People in the group do not have a particularly secure way of living. They put themselves in much more danger than necessary by constantly moving around, because they are passionate about what they are doing. It brings them and their audiences joy. They are willing to risk death to keep this lifestyle.
    No one person is the same, but everyone has something that keeps them going. Something they are passionate about. What would be the point of living otherwise? Humans have been gifted with amazing abilities. I believe that everyone does have a reason for being on this earth, and people need to use their gifts to do good in the world. Find your passion. Live for it and die for it.

  21. Survival occurs when resources have been reduced to a bear minimum. The Georgia Flu removed all luxuries from the Earth and left the human race to fend for themselves. The people are doing their best to find resources in schools, gas stations, and even IHOP. The traveling symphony focuses on more than survival and resources. When Kirsten and August go into houses to find resources they also gather things that interested them before the Flu. August collects remotes and other things that remind him of technology while Kirsten grabs magazines so she can find pictures of Arthur. They are acquiring things they can view as luxuries. Surviving and living are two completely different words. The symphony is doing everything in their power to live. Their performances bring them an immense amount of pride and joy because they are focusing on more than survival. Survival is insufficient because survival isn’t living.

  22. “Survival is insufficient”, besides being probably the worst quote one could’ve harvested from such a lengthy and robust television show as Star Trek, is too one-sided to merit an entire book. While one could write a book on why “Soft things are nice” there is no real point to a book that doesn’t change one’s perspective, address an issue, or call for further action. Furthermore, considering that Station Eleven revolves around this one quote/concept, one would only expect the idea to be challenged and viewed from multiple perspectives, not simply rehashed throughout the entire novel. While well written and nostalgic, Station Eleven will join the ranks of failed dystopia in that it neither requires from nor offers anything to the reader.

  23. It’s incredible how hard people will hold onto art forms once the “progressive” civilization fades away. In general, at least today, classical art such as opera or theater isn’t as appreciated as in the past. Society became more interested in things faster and stronger and more immediate. The plague, regardless how horrible it was, it does allow us to see that life’s basic necessities is just not enough. In this case, theater offers an immersion into another world apart than one reality of mere survival.

  24. In the world Mandel creates, not much remains of the world that we know today. So many of the things that are held at the forefront of what is and what is not important are thrown to the wayside. To survive in this new world is a task which possess much of one’s time, but as the banner reads, survival is insufficient. Mandel clearly states that the reason to life, to survive, is simple: other people and the human connection you have with them.
    This same reason is also a cause worth dying for, as Mandel writes on page 300. As a Kristen who is in near death situation she writes, “Thinking please don’t let them find August and Sayid. Thinking of Dieter, although thoughts of Dieter carried a pain that was almost physical…”(Mandel,300).
    Kristen is willing to die for her friends. Che realizes that the thing most important to her in life is other people, and how she is connected to them. This same theme, if you will, is presented again during Arthur’s last scene. He sits on his throne contemplating, “…a secret list of everything that was good…Tyler in the bathtub at two…Elizabeth in the pool at night…Dancing with Clark….Miranda’s eyes… his third wife, Lydia, doing yoga….Tyler,”(Mandel 328). Though he does not know this is near the end of his life, I find it fitting that he spends the beginning of his last performance thinking of all the things that matter to him in his life. And just as it was with Kristen, the list is almost entirely composed of his connections with other people. It is these connections that Mandel so expertly weaves throughout the book, and these connections that Mandel believes make survival into life.

  25. The theme of “Survival is insufficient” reminds me of The Giver by Lois Lowry. In Jonas’ community, survival is shown at its height: not just everyone’s physical needs, but all their emotional and mental needs are met. Everyone is happy. It seems that survival is perfectly sufficient.

    Yet the utopia feels hollow, and Jonas, as he interacts with the Giver, discovers that there is so much more to life than the placid contentment his community lives in. Is happiness insufficient? Is there a higher goal in life than the pursuit of happiness?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *