The Myth of Originality

Monk, John (2003). The Myth of Originality. In: Monk, John and Hughes, Rolf eds. Hybrid Thought. Milton Keynes: Department of Telematics, in conjunction with Metamorphosis, Centre for Writing and Performance Research, pp. 9–39.


The myths about originality sustain a set of practices within
our economic systems. Originality is treated as a token of worth but it is rooted in our uncertainty about causes. Our uncertainties may ultimately be fostered by a non-deterministic world, a failure of human modes of expression to explain the world, or perhaps both. Whether or not we should attribute the uncertainties to the metabolism of individual human beings, the processes of thought or the physical world in general are open questions. But the myths of originality are nourished by this uncertainty which provides an inexplicable void in our perceptions. It is a void that is apparent in the gulf between what our consciousness tells us about the world and what our rational reflections tell us – the difference between the analogue and the digital.

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