Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Somehow the Labor Day blogging break became extended to yesterday. Today, I’m simply not sure what to say.

Everything worth saying about the current national disasters is being said already, and it’s hard to counterprogram without coming off as frivolous and out of touch, especially when others are suffering or heading off into danger, sacrifice and hardship.

This is why punditry is all the rage — not just because technology allows people to learn about anything anywhere and talk about it immediately, but because people seize desperately on that technology to say something, anything, new, knowing it’ll remain so for a few minutes, an hour, a day at best.

What alternative is there? Writing on timeless topics seems a waste when the point of your lengthy essay is captured in a single centuries-old sentence from a book of quotations. Expressing an opinion on breaking news looks like a good deal in comparison, so long as you’re fast enough to get credit for saying something before anyone else.

After all, people aren’t born tired of being asked why the chicken crossed the road.

I could go on, but the point eludes me. As you’ll find in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Or, as Terence said in “Eunuchus” some 150 years before the birth of Christ, “Nothing can be said nowadays which has not already been said.” Or, to quote Mademoiselle Bertin, dressmaker to Marie Antoinette, “There is nothing new except that which has been forgotten.”

Thanks, book of quotations.

To think there was a time when every thought was new, every plot original, every comment startling, every note groundbreaking.

That’s impossible to sustain, of course, and eventually someone lost to history became the first schlub to inadvertently repeat someone else’s thought. Imagine the withering looks. The crushing presumption of inferiority.

Which brings us back to punditry.

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