When I was little one time, my grandma told me that nothing under the sun is new.
I had a hard time understanding that. How could nothing be new? I was seeing new things
every day. She was probably talking about something else, that I wasn't aware of. I was
probably only seven or eight after all.
I thought about it a lot. Every thing we have on Earth either started as space dust or
solar radiation. Every person, every plant, every rock has just been changing shapes since
it got here. Some space dust stuck to the fast spinning metal core of early Earth, got
compressed, and grew into cubic crystals of salt, the crystals got pulverized by tides.
Washed up on shore, drank by a plant, and mixed with sunlight. Grew into a leaf, that was
eaten by a bug, that was eaten by a bird, that died over a field, that rotted into the
soil, that grew some corn, that was processed into 'food' that was eaten by a human. You
get the idea.
Even our Ideas. (I always spell Idea with a capital I. One of those hard to kick typo
habits, like how I always get from and form mixed up.) There is nothing much original in
the realm of Ideas. It's all the same recycling process. Someone saw something online, or
in a movie, or talked about something with a friend. The complications of memory get in
the way, and boom, you call it original. The truth is, we just have too hard of a time
tracking down the process that these things come to us in.
I just woke up at one in the morning because of a dream about a cosmic serpent that flew
down into a fresh water well and exploded as light. It came out as all the life forms for
the next thousand years. When it was finally going to escape the horrible fate of living
and dying, it jumped right back into the well. Another cosmic serpent had come from the
heavens injured, and fallen into the well by mistake. The first one had to go back to warn
it of the dangers. So they spent thousands of years in thousands of bodies, as sickness
and health, chasing one another until they could finally discuss their options.
The point is: This is nothing original. I am sure that this is not new, even though it's
the first that I ever heard of it. I can even assume that it is the first anyone has heard
of it, since it was my dream, and it just happened twenty minutes ago.
It seems like (for me anyways) there is always this drive to be original. There is always
this expectation that I hold myself to that I have to do/make/be/think something totally
new. And that is a setup for failure, because it just isn't possible. Nothing under the
sun is new. Not a new car, not a new technology, not this new website.
All the things are old, their forms are old, our ideas are old. We are the products of a
million years of recycling. Spacedust, sunlight, tv reruns, and two cosmic serpents
chasing each others tails, divided up among a hundred thousand species of life.
And if there's nothing new... So what?
Recycling has been good enough for millions of years of history. Instead of trying to come
up with something new all the time what if we just tried the radically inventive practice,
of just doing what has always worked.
My ideas aren't original. Trees have been collecting solar energy forever, and biomimricy has been around since turning compost.
Wetware is standard business for amoebas. FLT is how the angels have always done it. Brains are computers, nanomaterials grow like fungus hyphae, fundamental informational connectivity is the natural state of the universe. It's only us that are just now catching on.
The only sensible way to make technologies is to encourage them to grow on their own. This is all artifact. And the question worth asking is to see our own instruction manual.