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Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Struggle For Originality

After two months of blogging nearly every day, I've so far detected one clear pattern about this discipline. The days I struggle to commit to what I'll write about are the days reading has been my predominant activity. It's possible my struggle on those reading days is related to a heightened awareness of the difficulty of being original. Once that conversation begins playing in my head I know better than to even start typing.

Saturdays are particularly challenging because of many of my longstanding habits. There's the weekend NY Times, a magazine or two, and the books I'm reading. Invariably on Saturdays, at least a few of my ideas for future blogs get discarded.

Of course, changing how much reading I do is not an option. And, I get an occasional thrill when I read someone else's work and pieces of what they've written are very close to something I've claimed as mine. Of course, claiming something is "mine" is itself an ill/de-lusion (I love using that "/" thing for two words that share an ending - I stole it from David Foster Wallace!)  So then, my struggle for originality is everyone's struggle? Does that mean it's not a struggle at all but the human condition?

I feel so much better. You?


  1. I wonder now if I am original at al!?! This is a wonderful blog. I have studied theatre and consider it to be the study of the human condition. Through that I have thought on occasion that our individual struggles can be handled much better if we acknowledge them as universal pains and not just our own. Of course what makes the differnce is how we handle them.

  2. The whole "wondering" part is the point of my blog - that and starting any kind of online conversation. If I prompted you to muse, great!

    The applicability to theatre is very real. How does an actor coax out an "original" performance, given how many before him have done the same character?

  3. if the thought, quote, idea, tune, is reused/recycled by YOU-it still is uniquely used by you and the situation you find yourself in (so, maybe can we say it is original in it's use or application)
    if you think of the world as multi-dimensional then if you are in conversation at the time where you paraphrase something or repeat something in your own words it is nonetheless an original moment and original space in time where the insection of many levels of 'being' have converged.
    You become a conduit and OF USE (see-Being of Use) to another human being by recycling your interpretation of a thought (etc) and applying it to that particular moment in time.
    This might sound spacy and drug-induced but it is not!
    No moment in our lives is fate or coincidence. It has all been pre-ordained by God.