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Birth/Death | the mystery of life

The sixth annual Chicago Humanities Festival, Birth and Death, investigated the need to communicate across the generations as we started to consider the new millennium. How does someone who's 80 relate to an 18 year-old? How do memories and traditions get translated across the generations? What lessons are learned? How does the passing of time change how we raise our children?

Time and its loss are everyone's fear. What have we accomplished in this century? Will the next one be better? Talk of time inevitable leads us to focus on ourselves and our own mortality. The humanities can help us come to grips with the impact of technology on birth and death. We use birth and death in our daily language—at every turning point, as metaphors. We frequently use the phrases: chocolate to die for, the birth of a nation, jazz rebirth, and so on. Do other languages and cultures relate to birth and death in quite the same way? Birth and Death considered these and many other topics through music, lectures, performances, and discussions.