Tuesday, August 18, 2015

original thinking

Elevator into space
Long before they were invented, my mother once suggested that books could benefit from cheaper "paperback" editions. The format would make more books accessible to more people. Reading, in the time of her suggestion, was considered useful, entertaining, and, to some extent, wise.

Now, paperbacks have come and gone pretty much. The idea of slowing down enough to read a 500-page book is anathema in a world of 141 Twitter characters. Musing and munching has taken on a quaint and annoying cast. Thinking and personal bias are hopelessly entwined. But that's another story.

What interests me vaguely is the fact that brand new ideas are almost invariably something that someone has already conceived of. Brand new merely means that something catches a local or widespread attention after a period of languishing.

And those who had the thought before the latest "brand new" thing is enunciated can find themselves irritable. I remember former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger -- in what context I don't quite recall -- sitting on a panel of younger men who were proposing some brand new approach to global policy or something similar. And at one point Kissinger grumped, "I thought of that 20 years ago." You could sort of sympathize: Putting something forward as brand new generally means someone wants to think well of him- or herself ... and to be 'credited with the idea.'

Having age and experience requires the addition of patience when it comes to old ideas regurgitated as "brand new." Or perhaps a patient redefining of "brand new" to a more reasonable, "brand new to me." The old dog may feel overlooked ... and so s/he is. It takes some patience to allow others to take up old cudgels.

Once I discovered Hinduism and then Buddhism, both of which had been around a hell of a lot longer than my life, at the time, was long. But it was all brand new and exciting as a fireworks show. Holy mackerel! What a discovery! Where had this wisdom been all my life?!

Well, I got to read about it in a paperback book or two.

Originality is overrated ... or maybe it's just a misnomer.

Consider, for example, the space elevator:
A Canadian space firm is one step closer to revolutionizing space travel with a simple idea – instead of taking a rocket ship, why not take a giant elevator into space?
Is there a curious 10-year-old anywhere who has not shaped a notion like that?

1 comment:

  1. I've got an idea, let's get to work on longevity and put an end to this death business. It's pretty inconvenient and cemetery's take up valuable real estate.