Sunday, July 1, 2012
New vs. Important
I have long been of the belief that I had nothing important to say. Anything I might wish to express has already been said... and been said better, by someone else. If I took the time to memorize some of the famous quote websites that I like to peruse from time to time, I think I could go the rest of my life without uttering an original thought. I've mentioned before that I'm also trying to write a novel, and I am plagued by the thought that I may have no original ideas for a work of fiction that someone might want to read. But I realized something the other day. As I considered what to write next for this blog, it occurred to me that even though nothing I've written is a particularly unique opinion, the things I write here are still my opinions. So I thought I might explore the operative difference between what's New vs. what's Important. [hence title]
There is a brilliant video series called Everything Is A Remix that eases my concerns. I encourage you to watch it for yourselves. But, to summarize, the videos essentially make the case that almost nothing is original. It's all derivative and enhanced and modified from some earlier concept. If you need proof, just look at the roster of Hollywood movies coming out this year: re-envisionings of Spider-Man, Total Recall, Judge Dredd (two of which began as comic books), Django Unchained. Sequels like Taken 2, The Expendables 2 and new installments of the Resident Evil movie series (which began as a video game), Ice Age, Christopher Nolan's Batman, Paranormal Activity, a new James Bond movie, a new Jason Bourne movie (sans Matt Damon), The Hobbit... well, you get the idea! What about technology!? All credit to Star Trek in this one! Communicators inspired flip phones, the iPad!? Yeah, just watch an episode of The Next Generation...there's tons of em, just laying around. Even The Holy Bible is a bit derivative. Noah and his flood sounds a lot like a story found on some Sumerian clay tablets (predating the advent of Christianity by, oh I don't know, A LOT). Elements of the story of Jesus bear a striking resemblance to stories about Hercules. I don't know how many stories about kids born to "virgin" mothers and being the sons of God/gods there are... but I'm pretty sure the Greeks and Romans used to write about that quite frequently. Nephilim, the offspring of angels and human women, also appear in The Bible... not all that disimilar from demi-gods... I'm just sayin! Now that's not to say there aren't some "new" things out there. But even they probably trace back to something.
So, if every idea has already been had... how do you create something new? Well, that's just it! You don't! It's all a giant game of Telephone (or Chinese Whispers for you Brits... and less politically correct). You just retell the same story... it changes, sometimes imperceptably, sometimes radically, but it does change! It may seem a lot like another story...but there's an element that's unique to the creator. The same holds true for opinions. I love The University of South Carolina. I'm not alone in that but, my opinion is built on my experiences... and while those experiences may be similar to those of many others, they are still mine and mine alone! Only the limitations of language account for me loving my alma mater for the exact same reasons as someone else!
Which only leaves the matter of importance. Let's just go back through my earlier examples. The movies: they might not be new, but that doesn't mean they aren't enjoyable. And in the grand scheme of things, that's all they NEED to be. Beyond that, they might expose someone to the "original" or the source material, and thereby give that person further enjoyment or enrich their lives in some way. Perhaps even inspire some new idea or prompt serious thought on an issue. The tech: well, Star Trek in general gives us something to shoot for/ aspire to. And, I fully expect to be in a holodeck simulation before I die! The Bible: ... just because the story isn't unique, doesn't make the lessons any less important.
A conclusion!? I suppose in the case of New vs. Important... Important wins... and important is decided by the individual. This blog is definitely important to me! While it is... generally "directionless" (by design), it's definitely not pointless! As social creatures, humans are driven to communicate with one another. This is how I've chosen to communicate with you... at least about some things. Thanks, by the way, for taking the time to "listen". Feel free to communicate back by leaving a comment.