‘quite unnecessary’ replied the office boy

‘QUITE UNNECESSARY’ REPLIED THE OFFICE BOY

In 1899, comedy publication Punch Magazine published a joke where a genius enters an office and asks to speak with a patent clerk. The office boy replies, “Quite unnecessary, Sir. Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Are you surprised by the date on that?

It seems ludicrous that in 1899 citizens of the ‘modern world’ believed they’d pretty much done it all. But what’s even crazier is that I keep hearing the same sort of thing now, only it’s no longer a joke. Instead, it’s turned into the default excuse for people to stop trying new things, for anyone (artist or not) to give up on creating original content.

Picasso may have said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal” but there is no reason to believe he meant to stop using our imaginations. Stealing is just about the most un-creative thing we can do.

If however, we do use an existing idea (a piece of art, say- or a ready-made product) as the starting point for creation, and we can successfully present that idea in a new light, we are engaging in the process of evolution, the most basic action of human development.

It’s easy to believe there are no new ideas, but it’s not true. Listen to yourself today and see what you get.

We have not yet reached the limit of our creative potential.

Originally posted February 20, 2015 at janetbright.ca

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