Here’s a funny story. Many years ago, way back in the mists of time, I started a painting. Here’s a picture of it.
I never finished it, and it got shoved away in a pile of junk under a bed in the spare room. It was forgotten. It stayed forgotten for a long time, and then I stumbled across it and was seriously impressed with what a great idea I’d had to invent such a painting. The idea that if we poke our head through the curtain of the sky we will see the clockwork that drives the environmental system: the clockwork of climate change. Look at that clever graph of the long-term climate-change signal! How clever I was.
I got the painting out, dusted it off, and I think I even tweeted a picture of it to show the world my genius. Then I put it back under the bed and forgot it again.
Time passed, and then this week I saw a Twitter tweet in which @JDProuty had posted up a picture alongside one of his haiku.
This picture looked familiar and suddenly I remembered mine again. For a moment I thought – my picture! Somebody must have stolen it from when I put it on Twitter! Then I looked closer and saw that this picture was much, much better than mine. Of course. How unfair, they stole my idea and did it better – the injustice. Then I thought: this is unlikely. I asked @JDProuty where the picture came from, and he kindly sent me some information and a link, demonstrating that this was an old picture, of which there were many versions floating around on the internet, and which had a long and interesting history. Certainly it was not mine. It’s even up there in Wikipedia!
What must have happened, of course, is that long ago I must have seen the original picture and decided to make one of my own. I then forgot the original. I then forgot my own. I then discovered my own. I then failed to recall the original. Whoops.
Another reminder that where memory, imagination, belief – in fact more or less anything – is concerned, you can’t really ever be quite sure of what comes from where, or of what you have ever really done, or that anything is really new, or that any idea is in fact your own.
Did somebody once say “there is nothing new under the sun”? No, I’m sure that’s one of mine!