Friday, August 21, 2015

Vlad the Impala and other thoughts on originality

The other day this jokey name just popped into my head - Vlad the Impala. I thought to myself, if I ever found myself in the company of an impala and had the opportunity to name it (for conversational purposes of course), I would call it Vlad the Impala. (Yeah, I know.) So I was amused and wondered what else would become of our fictional impala character - maybe an impala who is a fearsome, dark, mysterious and frightening character who goes around doing unspeakable things to the other animals in this imaginary sketch; maybe an impala who transforms into a carnivorous beast at night and wreaks unimaginable havoc amongst his impala friends... Something nice and pleasant like that.

So I was amused at myself and my brain's capacity to come up with ridiculous things like that in moments of dullness or during (weird) flights of fancy. Is it weird to think random thoughts like this once in a while? Perhaps not. I must confess that I often have what can only be described as random thoughts (thoughts which are never more than a momentary distraction, a source of amusement, no matter how absurd). And I must also confess that I often (initially) feel like I should share these funny, (ostensibly) original thoughts with others, just so that the thoughts are not wasted solely on myself, and that they at least find their way into the ephemeral world of whatsapp chats or suchlike. Facebook used to be a space for the sharing of random thoughts but sometime ago I decided I would cut out the randomness and sporadic expressions of eccentricity from my Facebook profile/persona. I would turn FB into a more 'respectable' (and naturally more bland) space. Sometime ago I also decided that I would de-politicise my FB (whatever that means), but that is a topic for a very different post or conversation. Anyhow, the gist of the matter is, I could no longer use FB to share my random, weird thoughts because I didn't want to appear eccentric anymore. (I should clarify that I have enormous respect for people who have the confidence to carry on being funny, eccentric and wildly unpredictable on their FB. Ditto for those who continue to post political stuff without let or hindrance. Like.)

But the point of this post is this - actually, how original are our random thoughts and ideas? When you think of something random, weird, arcane or seemingly implausible, are you the only one to have had that thought? Are you?? Well, as is often the case, a simple Google search can disabuse you of that notion. For instance, Vlad the Impala already exists! Someone had the hilarious idea of printing a number-plate for their Impala (car) with that name. It's a hoot! So, yeah, of course I wasn't the only one to have thought of Vlad the Impala. And this is great. It's great that even people's randomness-es can intersect in completely unconnected ways, transcending time and place and whatnot. Of course Vlad the Impala is bloody obvious - and I'm not making the case that it's very original or anything like that - but there are times when you have totally bizarre, ridiculous, fanciful, random thoughts that appear (momentarily) original and unlikely to have been thought up by anyone else (because everyone else obviously doesn't have the time to think such silly things)... However, the truth is, someone else, in the present or in the distant past, has thought the same bizarre, ridiculous, fanciful thoughts. And it's like your two randomness-es are intersecting in time and space. It's good. Even our original flights of fancy (and they are original in the sense that they're sui generis, to use a technical term) are not entirely original.

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