A recent reader of Destination Human commented that his favorite part of the book was Chloe painting a sunrise. The story’s narrator, Welkin, is a non-physical being temporarily inhabiting Chloe’s body and it’s Welkin’s observations we hear. I’d like to share that scene here:
Chloe picks up a brush, dips it into vibrant orange and strokes paint onto the white rectangle. A long wavy line of orange appears. She dips the brush again, picks up a yellow, and swiftly adds this to the orange. The colors merge together and where they meet, a third color appears.
Again and again, Chloe applies color to the rectangle. Sometimes she uses a fatter brush, and swirls it through the colors. They blend into ever more shades, some light, and some dark. The white background disappears swiftly, and then I realize something astonishing.
Chloe is creating! She is making something altogether unique!
She pauses and lays down the brush. We move into a tiny room lined with shelves. “It’s the supply closet, Welks,” she whispers.
“Why are we here?” I ask. “I want to watch the creation.”
“You know…” her voice trails away and she’s quiet for a moment. Then she sighs and says, “I never thought of it quite like that. I just thought I was painting a memory of a sunrise I once saw.”
“Painting a memory?” This is a stunning concept. “You’re attempting to make thought physical?”
“Incredible,” I say. I have a strange urge to shake our head but Rule One says I can’t operate our body.
Chloe laughs softly and shakes our head for us. “Do you still think we’re primitives?”
“Uh. Hmm. Maybe not so much. Universals can only share memory through thought transfer.” I wonder if I’ll be able to transfer my memory of Chloe. “Is this painting exactly like your memory?”
“Not exactly, no,” she replies. “It’s an abstract. More like the feeling of my memory.”
“I understand,” I say.
“Don’t lie, Welkin. But tell me this. Do you still think art serves no purpose?”
I am of course delighted that our species creates art—through music, dance, painting, writing and more. I think we’re all creative whether in the way we put together clothing or meals, thoughts or movement, musical notes or people in a photo… the myriad ways in which we create are astonishing. May all of us find joy in the process. ~ K.L. Denman