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Daily writing challenge

February 9, 2009

Where do ideas come from? It seems to be a popular question these days. Not that it hasn’t been popular since time immemorial. The theory of peak novelty is older than Shakespeare, one of its best known adherents. A friend of mine holds that human ingenuity is the commodity that can get us out of the economic crisis; even though our consumption is ultimately as well as proximally unsustainable on every level, innovation never runs out. Maybe. But individual creativity never runs out only if it’s consistently rewarded. And as a society the US has only been rewarding creativity that results in increased consumption. Whether your favorite metaphor is an invisible hand or memetic artificial selection, the forces of the marketplace of ideas have been selecting for precisely the kinds of ideas that make our society least likely to survive.

Unfortunately, so far, every economic stimulus package I’ve seen has been aimed at returning us to those same conditions.

— On the Road

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