Sunday, October 16, 2:00 pm, Monthly Program via Zoom. View a video of this presentation here.
Eternal Flames: Excerpt from a work in progress
A Presentation by Jim Gasperini
The potential lifespan of a well-tended fire is far longer than that of any human being. By keeping a fire burning, a community can maintain an animated link both to its past and to its future. Long-lasting fires can symbolize the unity and continuity of a family, city, or nation; honor historical events or persons of significance; serve as reminder of commitment to a goal or principle; or represent the ever-present light of the divine. When we choose to keep ceremonial fires perpetually lit, we sacralize a practice going back to a stage in our domestication of fire, before early humans learned how to make fire on demand.
This presentation examined the many efforts we have made over the centuries to establish and maintain “eternal” flames, in the face of the inevitable fact that no human institution could possibly last for more than a tiny fraction of eternity.
Jim Gasperini is the Institute’s webmaster and a member of its Board. A Williams College graduate, he designed and wrote initial titles for the Time Machine series of interactive history books for young adults (Bantam); wrote Hidden Agenda, an educational game about Central American politics (Scholastic); and designed the third version of the city-planning simulation Sim City. Through his 3D photography company Cockeyed Creations he researched and published sets of stereograph reproductions for the White House Historical Association, Gettysburg and Antietam national military parks, and many museums, zoos, and national parks. See more about his background at jimgasperini.com.