Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is a part of an Englishman's constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct. . . . His celebrated passages are quoted by everybody; they are in half the books we open, and we all talk Shakespeare, use his similes, and describe with his descriptions . . .Well, if the Bard did use it, he borrowed it from Ecclesiastes 1:9, which was penned at least a couple of thousand years before his time. Thus, my argument that there is no such thing as original thought.
The ultimate proof of my claim:
This is a very, very funny comedy bit about how Pachelbel's Cannon in D has permeated modern music.
Here's another example, my nephew's blog:
This is a terrific blog which I read every day. He's funny, insightful, fresh, and finds a way to say things that other people wouldn't dare because they could be offensive or aren't politically correct. Nonetheless, coming from Dan, it's impossible to get one's nose out of joint. My favorite posts are those in which he exhibits his softer, often poignant side because he not bashful about putting himself out there, and although most of us are loathe to admit it, he strikes deep cords in us all.
As I said, it's a terrific blog and I get a real kick out of checking up on him a couple of times a day just to watch his numbers bounce up another hundred points or so. It's one of the fastest growing new humor blogs in the blogosphere, and he's followers surpassed the numbers of our multitudinous family weeks ago. He was catapulted into stardom a few days ago when his post "How Much Did YOUR Kid Cost" went viral. This post does a fantastic job in educating people about what not to say to adoptive parents, especially if their child is present. As of right now, 1159 people have shared this post on Facebook.
When Dan first started out, he had an advertisement stuck here or there, and I'd click them just so he'd tally up. He always put a plug in for this at the bottom, 'every little penny helps' and stuff like that. Then, all the advertising disappeared and his blog evolved into the great format it is today, but he's promoting his blog now more than ever.
Being inquisitive, I said, Hey. If you have no advertising, why the big push to get followers, besides the obvious gratification of having them?
He said, 'Well, I want to get exposure, have the right people find and like me, and maybe get a book deal or a column or something.'
I said, 'Ah. The Julie/Julia strategy.' He said, Pardon? I then explained to him about Julia Powell, the author of the Julia/Julia Project blog (of which he had never heard) which got great exposure, then publicity, leading to a book deal for her and eventually a hit movie with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. (Ms. Streep is absolutely brilliant, BTW. If you haven't seen this movie, DO!). It's a great, proven strategy. He should definitely keep pursuing it and I think he'll be a bang-up success. It's just not original to him.
How often do you hear, 'I thought of that first!'? but someone else actually did something with it and made a million bucks? Imagine some guy coming up with this great group game, goes to a party and says, 'Hey! I invented a game!' and the host pulls out the game which has already been manufactured and marketed and making millions. The guy says, 'It's just a bunch of paper and some pencils in a box!" Even so.
The problem with there being no original thought is that most of us believe we are the exception and that we're absolutely brilliant. For instance, because I write historical romances set in Regency England, I have to make up lots of names—names of peerages (Lord Something or Other of That One Place), names of towns and estates (Overdon or Bitterwood, anyone?), names of people. Lots and lots of names of people. The problem is, once I've scoured atlases, maps, dictionaries, thesauruses and BehindtheName.com, once I finally settle on what I want, which I think is absolutely original, I find out it's not. I figure out there really is a Lord Something or Other, or that Stanhope is really a place, or that a name has actually already been used in a book, like Ravenshaw (JA) or Ravensworth (actually, JA used Rushworth, but it's too close not to admit the truth of it). I've just been exposed to such things so much, it's seeped into my subconscious (which is like quicksand), and when it resurfaces, I think it's my own.
This is why I avoid other JA knock-offs at all costs. I really don't want to know just how trite my writing truly is.
The worst problem I had with this was regarding the name of one of my major characters. I changed her name at least three times, from Mariah to Hannah and finally to Desireé. I absolutely love Desireé, and this classy name exactly fit with the character. However, my poor Desireé does not lead a happy existence. Her sister oppresses her, her father neglects her, her grandmother manipulates her, a truly wretched fellow lies and undertakes all sorts of machinations to make her his wife, all to prevail over her one true love, his nemesis, and she ultimately is impregnated by a rapist just before she is to be wed and live happily ever after. Desireé is a resilient person, but I certainly wouldn't name a real baby Desireé after I had penned her tale. It would be like cursing her from birth.
|Desireé and Lilah Rose|
(Esme is another name which I thought no one else would use, but all of the sudden, little girls are answering to it all over the place!)
Wedding Singer: "—Something that would have been helpful to know yesterday!" Of course, when this actually makes it out of my mouth, I get really strange looks, especially when I use Adam Sandler's delivery.
1776: John Adams: "Ditto Ditto Ditto Ditto" (sung, of course)
Little Mermaid: Ursula the Sea Witch: "Pathetic!"
Galaxy Quest: "I see you managed to get your shirt off," "Whoever wrote this episode should die!" and the ever popular ". . . and exploded." These usually pop up when viewing other films, rather than in real life, although, there have been times in the kitchen . . .
If these quotes were from Shakespeare or Ann Rand or Rudyard Kipling or someone, I'd feel a lot less banal.
The malady of stagnation of thought permeates literature, music, the arts, and every aspect of our lives (let us not forget politics!). And, worst of all, I'm probably the four-trillionth person to blog on the subject. And the worst worst thing is, it took Dan's efforts to spur me into getting this silly blog going again.
Aren't we original.