New or Old?
I’ve sometimes heard this phrase:
There is nothing new under the sun.
Mainly I’ve heard it in the context of fiction and art. The idea is that everything is somehow derived from its predecessors. The phrase bugs me, because it implies that nobody ever really creates anything.
But every new creation is, in fact, new. Even if it’s inspired by something that came previously, it’s not the exact same thing as whatever came previously. The fact that Star Wars incorporates old ideas about heroes and villains does not change the fact that Star Wars was new; before George Lucas there was nothing in the world exactly like Star Wars.
The only way to make new stories look the same as old stories is to have a fuzzy perspective: “Here’s a story about a hero who defeats a villain. Oh wait, here’s a previous story about a hero who defeats a villain. Well, I guess they’re the same story, then! There is nothing new under the sun.” Different things only seem similar if we ignore the details. (And besides, there are stories without heroes and villains.)
In fact, you could take the philosophical view and state that everything changes in every instant. Molecules keep shifting around, etc. etc.. Most of these changes are insignificant, but they’re technically still happening.
So in a sense, it’s equally accurate to say:
There is nothing old under the sun.