On originality

Just thinking about originality makes me laugh, but not because originality is impossible, but because all who claim originality are usually all the same. Tattoos, piercings, black clothing, urban hipsters, retired hippies, Wall Street clones, soccer moms, cat people, dog people, bloggers, politicians, no one is original, even those who claim no originality whatsoever. We are often more similar than we want to admit, yet we fight the rush of the water as we strive to fit in. Yet we also strive to be our own person, to be creative, to leave our individual mark on the world. There are a few tame, quiet souls out there that given their inherent shyness would just as soon pass unnoticed by the whole world, and originality is anathema to their very nature. They are gray people of the world who fear everything. Originality is the exact opposite of fear. Though no one is original, thinking that one is original has to do with blindness and fearlessness mixed together with large doses of ego and bravado, failure and falling down. Originality ensures failure because the illusion of originality is also tied to the insight of recognizing one’s intellectual and inspirational parents and being born too late to be original in anything. Teenagers always think that they are the first to insight rebellion and reject their parents’ values, times, practices, paradigms, ideas, expectations, morals, religion, and politics, and teenagers have been doing this for several millennium. The irony of the teenager lies in their blindness and energy as they express their alienation and angst. Perhaps they should ask their parents how they dealt with exactly the same feelings? Each generation wants to liberate itself from the previous one, seeing it as spent, worn out, empty and vacuous, superficial, spurious, unoriginal and meaningless. By its very nature, originality holds within it all the generations that have claimed it and been doomed to repeat all the failures of the past. A few artists, maybe a few philosophers, a couple of poets, on a rare bad night, a theologian or two, have brushed up against originality, have seen and described something new, rejected it, tossed it aside as impossible, and continued on their collective way. We have mistaken failure for originality, only to find that failure is perhaps the last bastion of originality, and failure is only the most common of human actions. The earliest poets of the ancient middle east lamented in languages that have long since been forgotten and designated for studies in graduate courses that there is nothing original under the sun, that one may write about love, or hate, or war, or loss, or nostalgia, or sunsets, or roses, but you will always be repeating the words and ideas and forms that have come before you, that have informed you, that has given your creativity wings, so you are always the product of someone else’s originality, which never existed in the first place. You are always a child, of your past, of your present, of your future, so get over it, forget your past and be as original as your mind lets you be.