lapidary belatedness & Thoth imago

Would I had phrases that are not known,
utterances that are strange,
in new language that has not been used,
free from repetition,
not an utterance which has grown stale,
which men of old have spoken.

An Egyptian scribe fixed those words in stone at the very dawn of recorded utterance – already jaded, a millennium before Homer. Modern critics speak of the burden of the past and the anxiety of influence, and surely the need to innovate is an ancient part of the artist’s psyche, but novelty was never as crucial to the artist as it became in the twentieth century. The useful lifetime of a new form or genre was never so short.

– James Gleick, Genius, p. 326 [bigness and lineation added, quotation marks omitted]