Monday, June 20, 2005

How Original...

Nevermore did an interesting post recently and while, I’m not sure if this how he meant it, just the words got me to thinking again about one of my old issues: "they believe that whatever they're thinking actually reflects original thought."

Well, I was a kid once too, and actually thought the same thing. I’ve grown up since then and let me tell you, finding out that it’s not true can be very daunting! And how you find out can be just as bad, if not traumatic. (I remember toying with the idea that "God" might be an alien. My friends and I would talk about it and consider the possibilities... And then I found out that there’s an entire religion based on the assumption! What a bunch of freaks! I mean, here we were just talking about it and thinking that we may have stumbled onto a new idea, and here it was already a faith based religion.)

Anyway, that was when I started to realize that maybe, just maybe, there are no more original thoughts. It’s entirely possible, especially if you consider the "100 monkeys on a 100 typewriters, for a 100 years" factor. Eventually, one of them is going to turn out the works of Shakespeare. This world has been around a while, and there’s been a lot of people passing through it, isn’t it possible that there are no more thoughts out there that haven’t been documented at least a couple of times? My guess is that this one has been... And it’s probably has been about a billion times!

So why do I bring this up? Well, it’s probably because it’s an interesting subject to me that I haven’t found the answers to yet. It insinuates that we want to be original, otherwise we wouldn’t think twice about it. At the same time, it also helps you to feel that you’re not alone in the world. That there are other people out there that understand. While these two thoughts are total opposites, they’re both equally important to our mental well being. I find it fascinating!

(PS: There is more to this -like the importance of recycling good ideas,- but I’ll cut it short for now...)


Blogger Chrissie said...

Its unique to us at the time thou.......
Will post more thoughts tomorrow......Its bed time.....

5:20 PM  
Blogger Teri said...

I have thought about this a lot lately. The great thinkers of our time, were they just in the right place in the right time to come up with these creative and original thoughts? I do not think that every original thought or idea has been created, just look at technology and medicine and how fast things change day to day. I just think with the use of technology people are able to get their ideas out there for everyone to see much faster and easier.

8:01 PM  
Blogger thc said...

Ah, the age-old question, is there such a thing as an origninal thought or has every thought been thought before? I thought I knew the answer, but I guess not. Let me think on it.

11:18 PM  
Blogger RT said...

LOL THC... Stop teazing me. :p

Yeah Teri, I realized after I posted that I should have been a little more specific. I was talking more along the lines of philosophy, psychology, the whole "meaning of life" thing. (And even in that sense, there are some new breakthroughs as we learn more about how the brain works.)

I am surprised that you called me out on that first, though. I was really expecting Vavoom to ream me out for that one...

12:12 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

This made my brain hurt. :P

Do you believe the old saying, 'those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it?'

I guess I haven't much to say on the actual post because you've pretty much covered it. It is a very interesting thought though.

2:08 AM  
Blogger Matty D said...

Maybe this is why I'm never original?

Hahahahaha...oh Matty D. I drive myself crazy.

2:47 AM  
Blogger nevermore said...

I was typing a reply to this but when I got to the 5th paragraph I figured I might as well make a post out of it ...

2:06 AM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

I read this post earlier and decided to hold off. Yes, my original desire was to ream you out. It is a wonderfully interesting question. I wanted to think through my response carefully.

If you actually do the math (a painful question often asked in statistical mechanics classes), a monkey will never -- in the age of the universe -- type out Richard III or Hamlet.

We do have original thoughts. Granted, as society becomes more and more sophisticated, those thoughts often come about as a result of collective thinking. Still, we are not at the end of good ideas.

I'll tell you an interesting story. Once upon a time there was a young scientist. He noticed that in Rome and Greece, the ruins were being foolishly reinforced by metal re-bar. I say foolish because re-bar rusts, causing it to expand within the granite and marble contructs, thus leading to more cracking. This young scientist was an undergraduate and came up with the idea that marble could be reinforced using carbon fiber. He worked dilligently to prove that marble would be reinforced far better using carbon fiber, rather than re-bar.

Well, our young hero had his idea stolen by a professor. That professor proclaimed the idea to be his and he was awarded multi-million dollar contracts with foreign governments to implement this idea. He was seen as a creative thinker, a true innovator. Some, however, knew the truth and saw him as a fraud. They would argue that he was unoriginal and uninspired.

This brings me back to your point. Nobody had thought to use carbon fiber to reinforce the ruins simply because it was a relatively new technology at the time. Merely because that professor (SOB that he is) stole the idea doesn't take away from the fact that it *was* an original idea.

Look at nanotechnolgy, systems biology, string theory... all of them are beautifully original ideas. 200 years ago, no one even dreamed of such things.

The day mankind cannot creatively devise and implement original ideas, we are lost. Fortunately, that day hasn't come yet. I don't believe it ever will.

Besides, recycling ideas is tantamount to not reinventing the wheel. Indeed, sometimes we must revisit winning strategies and thoughts to advance. Nothing wrong with that.

Great post, RT. This was a challenging concept for me.

2:09 AM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Crap... I just read your response to teri. Sorry for the delay. Damn.

If you wish to confine your argument to the artistic arena, would you argue that Picasso was horribly unoriginal? Sure, he may have expanded on the work of others, but his work was original. How about Jackson Pollack? His work was also extremely original. Original ideas are everywhere. Sadly, original thinking often goes against accepted dogma and often goes unnoticed.

2:19 AM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

How come I'm gettin' no love here?

7:19 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

I'd like a chance to ream her out too! B) Then again, I like to hear begging first. Anyhow, I think original ideas are out there but certain categories have been explored to their full potential. Heck, Shakespeare himself said that there were only so many types of stories any other would just be a variation of one of those. Music is always being explored yet some believe that there are only a finite number of chords and keys and every combination will be used. Thankfully, everyone has their own philosophical view on life so the chance of repeats are high. I do believe science and physics are the last bastions of original thought as one discovery is usually the foundation for a bigger one. (Thankfully I didn't go into films because... hello? Who the hell wanted to see another Pink Panther film without Peter Sellers?)

7:59 PM  
Blogger RT said...

OK OK! Sorry I'm late. Just chill out Vavoom... :o)

Funny you should mention Picasso, because I just spent the day at the Cinci Art Museum. It was great! Although, if you want to point out an example, you're going to have to use someone other than Picasso, he started all that weird stuff nearly a hundred years ago. :p

Actually, I probably wouldn't include the artistic arena, although in a sense, it does run along the same lines as philosophy. The emotions and ideas portrayed aren't very original, but the way they're expressed can be. Same with poetry and other literature.

That aside... You said a mouthful with "Sadly, original thinking often goes against accepted dogma and often goes unnoticed." I like that! I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it does. It seems that there are too many people out there that just don't care if they have original thoughts or not. It's like, why should I work my brain when there's someone else to do it for me? (And, if you use someone else's thought, you have at least one person who agrees with you.)

Just the other day, quite possibly for the first time in my life, I actually heard someone say "It was probably one of those guys from the olden days that had nothing better to do with his time than sit around and think." (We were talking about existentialism, and that was in reference to how these philosophies come about.) It took me a minute before I was able to pick my jaw up off the floor...

Come to think of it, didn't you do a post similar to this one not too long ago, Nut? The one where you were you asked if it was original or just something you'd heard and didn't remember?

10:58 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Hi rt:

I found your blog through vavoom's blog. Very good stuff. I'll put up a link on my site and stop in if it's OK with you.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Oh man, Fred! How come I don't get a slot on your blogroll? This is a great blog -- rt does a great job with it.

1:45 AM  
Blogger RT said...

Whoa! Fred, I would be honored! And I'll put a link up here for you too...

But pleasantries aside :o) What do you think of the post???

I think I'm actually starting to see the light. Just because there haven't been an abundance of good ideas here lately, doesn't mean there are no original thoughts. And with all the new science and technology, I'm sure there will be some coming along to go with that...

Yeah! Thanks guys, I'm starting to feel much better now, lol.

7:35 AM  
Blogger dusty said...

jesus that was deep..and i was just looking for something to read..monkeys will never type hamlet thats true..original thoughts are alive and well since the context changes everything for every thought..yes we learn more and more about how the brain functions and that in and of itself will either prove or disprove alot of things..whether or not my spouse has any thought processes would be a valid question i think..*smirks*

3:56 AM  

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