Read e-book online Novelty: A History of the New PDF

By Michael North

If artwork and technology have something in universal, it’s a starvation for the new—new principles and suggestions, new methods of seeing and depicting the realm. yet that wish for novelty contains with it a basic philosophical challenge: If every thing has to return from something, how can whatever actually new emerge? Is novelty even possible?

In Novelty, Michael North takes us on a stunning journey of greater than millennia of wondering the matter of the recent, from the puzzles of the pre-Socratics the entire method as much as the paintings international of the Sixties and ’70s. The phrases of the talk, North exhibits, have been tested ahead of Plato, and feature replaced little or no for the reason that: novelty, philosophers argued, may possibly simply come up from both recurrence or recombination. the previous, present in nature’s cycles of renewal, and the latter, visible such a lot basically within the workings of language, among them have accounted for almost all of the ways that novelty has been conceived in Western historical past, taking in reformation, renaissance, invention, revolution, or even evolution. As he pursues this concept via centuries and throughout disciplines, North indicates miraculous variety, drawing on figures as various as Charles Darwin and Robert Smithson, Thomas Kuhn and Ezra Pound, Norbert Wiener and Andy Warhol, all of whom provide other ways of grappling with the assumption of originality.

Novelty, North demonstrates, continues to be a crucial challenge of latest technological know-how and literature—an ever-receding goal that, in its complexity and evasiveness, keeps to motivate and propel the trendy. A heady, formidable highbrow banquet, Novelty is wealthy with perception, a masterpiece of perceptive synthesis.

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Even in the eighteenth century, the concept of revolution was elastic enough to cover both possibilities: complete, irreversible upheaval and repetitive return to the past. An influential example of this potent combination had been offered in the Renaissance by Francis Bacon, who deployed the ungainly term instauration so as to advocate return and renovation at once. 56 Science, by this account, uncovers the original novelty packed into nature by its first creator, much as the church was supposed to do within its sphere of influence.

58 Empedocles thus establishes two methods of coping with Parmenides’ wisdom that were so influential they now seem inevitable. He accommodates himself to the singularity of being by dividing it into a few parts, each of which is just as eternal and unchangeable as the original one, and he preserves the temporal stasis of Parmenides’ system by enclosing change within a repetitive cycle. 59 There is always a moment at which unity and temporal consistency converge and the universe is in its most perfect condition, when being is a “single ordered whole”; and for Empedocles this does seem to be an actual moment in historical time and not just a logical phase in the argument.

He accommodates himself to the singularity of being by dividing it into a few parts, each of which is just as eternal and unchangeable as the original one, and he preserves the temporal stasis of Parmenides’ system by enclosing change within a repetitive cycle. 59 There is always a moment at which unity and temporal consistency converge and the universe is in its most perfect condition, when being is a “single ordered whole”; and for Empedocles this does seem to be an actual moment in historical time and not just a logical phase in the argument.

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