Is Nothing Sacred?Posted: July 13, 2011
They say there’s nothing new under the sun. But they say a lot of things, some true and some not so true. (What do they know? Who are they anyway?) Perhaps, though, they’re onto something.
In a world in which we have so many avenues to communicate with each other in order to generate new ideas, where have all the original thoughts gone?
Several decades ago American muscle cars prowled the streets as guys of all ages panted after them. But all good things must come to an end, and so the muscle car slipped into our collective memory, a rusting piece of nostalgia. Until recently, that’s where it stayed. Apparently now is the time for resurgence of these particular cultural relics, albeit remodeled shadows of what they were before. Never mind their sounds, emissions, or the fact that they’ve now morphed into semi-family-friendly cars; we have managed to clumsily resurrect that which was probably best left untouched and untarnished. Where are they with a good cliche when you need them?
We do this with movies (Footloose), cartoons (Scooby Doo), and songs (for an example, select any newer pop song containing a remix of an early 90s hit in the background). We also do it with written ideas.
Writers are inspired by other writers, and we begin to generate what we perceive to be original thought. That’s until we consult the original only to find that we have, in fact, produced a copy, a retelling of another author’s thoughts. And who knows: maybe that author copied another author ad infinitum. As writers we walk a thin line between original thought and cheap imitation. We create fascinating dialogue via social networking and coffee house conversations, yet somehow we don’t conceive anything new independently. Just when we think we’re onto something, we find that someone else has beat us to the punch. Am I saying there is no original thought going on? No. Do I believe that there are original people generating original ideas? Of course. But I also believe that somewhere along the way we get lazy, and it becomes easier to “create” that which has already been created.
Is nothing sacred anymore? Can we not seek inspiration from others in art, music, writing, design, and entertainment without churning out mediocre counterfeits of our own? They also say history repeats itself. A dangerous thought, this. Creativity beware.