First and Only

Human history is so short that it is full of things that have happened for the first and only time, yet for the last couple of hundred years at least in the West, and for much longer in China, the feeling of belatedness has been pervasive in culture, as has been preoccupation with the modalities of repetition. This is somehow connected with another fact, namely that each individual person is a unique perspective on the world. With a population of seven billion and growing the distinction between perspectives becomes ever smaller, and so originality in art becomes harder to claim and maintain. But the mark of freshness in art is exactly the feeling of once and only, which can be troped as “firstness” or priority.

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