A new shoot of green in a bed of brown leaves

I know that it is unlikely that I will ever write anything totally new. Most of what I write is novel to me, and synthesized by me, which is why I find it worth recording at all, but there have been uncounted generations far more intelligent who have surely at some point beat me to the ideas. When I come across examples of victors in this subtle competition, though, I am encouraged and feel honored that I should be in the company of such greats. I also feel then like I am on the right track toward a novel discovery of my own.

I also recognize this pattern in the writings of others. Sometimes it is between writers in the same school of thought, contemporary to each other; other times the pattern is seen across eras, or between two people that likely didn’t have access to each other’s works. Still, somehow the ideas coalesce.

I think what I am trying to get at here is something like Dawkins’s meme (see, even this idea about novelty that I’m expressing itself isn’t entirely novel). Someone may come up with a completely new and ground-breaking idea, but it only enters the consciousness, the idea sphere of a few people. The idea is then internalized and slowly disseminated through the newly-expressed ideas of those few people, perhaps unconsciously. Several iterations later, after many mutations, the sphere grows, until finally the idea may emerge from someone who has no affiliation or contact with the originator but who has far greater access to the public, and the idea then becomes common knowledge.

In other words, there is a threshold somewhere between nascent, novel ideas and pervasive public consciousness, and there must be some calculable mean of the number of iterations and mutations before that threshold is crossed.

Therefore, the recording and publishing of new-to-you concepts is a critical part of really changing the world with ideas, perhaps even more important than the origination of the idea, or at least as important, especially because it is often impossible to differentiate between the two, and because it is the repeaters, the churners, the re-interpreters that will tip the idea over that threshold mean.