Are there any new ideas? Actually original, genuine ideas that aren't simply repackaged classics? The problem here lies with Western civilization's guttural hatred of creative intellectuals who don't fit the production machine, which is ironic because the further from social conformity and platitudes one draws, the closer they avail themselves to unbridled creativity which could solve basic social and ethical dilemmas. This is not to say that separating from society will necessitate creativity, or that everyone is equally creative. We are not.
Before the production machine and some of its main cogs--marketing, power, materialism, and relativism--developed, humans didn't function that much differently than lower animals. We hunted because we couldn't readily preserve, our hygiene was self-regulated, we practiced agriculture, and had little or no medical supplies to fix us up. Some would call this the savage life, and technically it was, due to a lack of civilization. However, what this savage life offered humanity was a self-sufficiency and accountability that civilization, if not careful, can deprive due to enabling, laziness, and relativism. We can't just devolve civilization, yet in terms of new ideas, despite civilization's technological breakthroughs, raw intellectual curiosity and creativity continually struggle to be accepted and embraced because they're not a function of economics or conquest. Simply put, we're a concrete-loving culture, and if we don't produce new ideas, it's because we strive toward wealth, power, and tradition.
Lack of creativity--or banality--isn't an inherent human limitation because enveloped within the language, "there aren't any new ideas," represents how at one point, there were new ideas. Philosophy, abstract math and science are soft-sciences that in modern day have difficulty fully entering the production machine, although science has an out if one can produce something to make money. The other two scorned intellectual children are capacities, techniques, perspectives that facilitate the process of thinking; they're not linear, they're facilitators. Since they're seen as useless to the production machine because they're not linear, they're not incentivized to practice with the thought that one might possibly create new and useful ideas. So the problem is two-fold: our past-gazing concrete culture puts true creativity at odds, which itself is future-oriented due to its inherent prospection; and the terms new and useful have been merged, which has vast intellectual repercussions because if the discipline isn't perceived as useful, the process of creativity (creating-new) is oppressed.
How'd we get here? "It is not very difficult to see that this idea is rooted in the fear of progress. If there is nothing new under the sun, if the past in some shape or another always returns, then the future when it comes will be something familiar." (p. 549) Didn't we get here because of progress? To split a hair, we got here because of a compulsion for technology, which, if done well, does indeed drive progress. Progress itself is embracing change through accepting risk. Our technological progress was therefore a response to environmental and social pressures, not the isolated inner drive for intellectual progress. The production machine doesn't yet understand that an apt, creative intellect can solve current problems and prevent future ones, and isn't just some soap-box lecturer. Those are the academics, who entered and participate in production machine, teaching what society is willing to hear.
Thus, the production machine feeds on familiarity and banality, not progress.
Click the RSS FEED button below to receive notification of new Orwell 365 posts.