A Note About Originality

by Brian D. Sadie

A funny thing happened to me when I was a cub reporter and photographer running from bulls in Spain…

When not suffering too greatly from participating during my first visit to Pamplona, where I was expected to photograph and report on the San Fermin festival, I also took notes and made sketches for stories, novels, and screenplays, all of which I was certain would be magnificently original. But, new to that life and quite naïve, the realization that so many others had done so much in the same places that I then wished to do – and that they had often done it so well – discouraged the bloody hell out of me. What, I wondered, could I hope to achieve and leave the world as a writer and artist interested in original vision and truth when so many writers, painters, musicians, and others from long and even longer before had already lived and bequeathed it?

I stopped writing for a while but reading helped revive my spirits. Not just Irving, Hemingway, Proust, Fitzgerald, Pound, and Joyce – whose work had caused my doubt to begin with – but Gilgamesh and the classical Greeks and Romans: they inspired me again to create something artistic. Those early works made clear to me that what matters is the personal understanding and expression of obviously basic feelings about life. That’s it. In some fundamental sense, perhaps, originality begins and ends there, particularly in an age when technology, reproduction, and education have so uniformly affected the world’s operational practices and cultural expressions relating to emotional reaction, intellectual method, and daily experience.

In other words, there’s sameness to nearly everything now, or at least a familiarity, but a brilliant idea is equally brilliant when thought by a little-known person unaware that someone half-way around the planet thought the same thing but wrote about it in an obscure rag several years before. We’re human, connected by the fabric of the stuff that not only physically makes us similar but also by the intangible things that we just don’t bloody get.

Yet…

Good reading and good day.

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About Brian D. Sadie / eloquentb

Brian D. Sadie is president of the film company Eloquent Bastard Productions. He was formerly Executive Director of The Joseph K. Foundation: On Privacy and was recruited and hired as an analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency. His writing appears in publications as diverse as The Economist, Boston Book Review, TeenLife, and Informationen der Gesellschaft für politische Aufklarüng. Mr. Sadie is often a featured contributor to educational and Ed Tech entities about education and literacy. He graduated with honors from Harvard University in History and Middle Eastern Studies and was a Pew Fellow at Boston University at the Institute of Culture, Religion and World Affairs. He is an ardent sports fan and equally ardent critic of the business of sports.
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