Beyond Originality

Are we doomed to an eternity of re-runs?

If Ecclesiastes could complain, over two thousand years ago, that there was “nothing new under the sun,” what hope can there be for art be today? If there are only seven basic plots, are we doomed to an eternity of re-runs and sequels?

Yes and no. There may perhaps be just one fundamental story, and yet creativity is flourishing today, as it has throughout history, despite the naysayers. In fact it is the tension between the archetypal and the original that makes a good story what it is. Take one of these two pillars away and the edifice collapses.

Originality has not always been prized. Some cultural traditions pride themselves on fidelity of transmission. But even here a true artist’s voice always finds a way to express itself, under the guise of repetition.

Since the Renaissance the opposite principle has reigned in the West, culminating in the madness of modernism, where all traditional schemas had to be cast aside. What these writers and composers found,

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