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The belief that the 1st of something is the 'best'.

Why is it a general assumption that the first of any form of literature/art/media is inherently ‘better’ than proceeding works of art by the same artist? Does ingenuity supersede the product itself? Examples include: the first Star Wars film compared to the others, Guns N Roses’ first album, etc.

  • I think a good point to make is that the '1st' of things usually become called 'classic.' Take for example the movies Red and Red 2. Both movies in their own right are very well done: good plots, good score, good acting. However, because Red was first it had more time to be considered a favorite/classic. – chikkabooo 7 years ago
  • I feel like a lot of the times, the mistake made is the comparison doesn't really end up being between 'good' or 'better', it's more of 'the first one' versus 'the new one'. By which I mean to say, that instead of trying to see if a remake/sequel is GOOD or not, we end up trying to see if it's similar to the previous work or not (this holds especially true if the first work has been a success). Naturally, unless the creator is in the habit of repeating themself, one doesn't find too many similarities to point out, effectively pronouncing that the new work of art is 'not as good', even though all we actually figured out is that the new work of art is 'not like the last one'. – JayBird 7 years ago
  • Everyone knows the second Star Wars was the best... – Sboother 7 years ago
  • Things to discuss would be interrelated issues of authenticity, originality and historical primacy. Herbert Read argued that a desire for novelty, originality and primacy is one of the strongest biological impulses in the average human – due to the evolutionary need to adapt to unusual circumstances and the desire to propagate – and used this biological analogy to explain the innate “goodness” attached works considered the “first” or “original”. Edward Young proposed that what we consider ‘originals’ are mostly ‘accidental’, out-surviving or overshadowing the works that they actually imitated or were heavily influenced by. If, for instance, the Mona Lisa and all of the information about the original painting was destroyed, an art historian might see an early copy as the ‘original’. Perhaps the feeling that “nothing is original” is due to the fact that no information or artefacts is lost or destroyed by the modern digitisation and democratisation of information. There is a distinction to be made, perhaps, between something that is imitative, such as a forgery or copy, and something that is a development, like a sequel. When presented with an original painting and a good forgery or imitation we have a reason for not considering them of equal value. Although the aesthetic value of such a copy could be the same as that of the original painting, it would completely lack the art-historical value, with the former work inspiring others and developing art in general. Clearly, one does not want to give the same credit to someone who mechanistically copied a work in which an artist invested ingenuity and original thinking. This is reflected in how the legal language concerning the originality standard in copyright law has generally converged around the “sweat-of-the-brow” of the creator as well as the “skill, judgement or labour” invested in the object. In other words, it has proven difficult for courts to separate the effort and industriousness of reproduction without incorporating terms such as creativity or personality. An additional idea here is that the original object was a more “authentic” expression of an artist’s “self” or “intentions” not mediated or infringed upon by interlopers. – Christopher Pottecary 7 years ago

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Latest Comments

Usually, when my mind is completely blank, I am able to churn out some of my best writing. I’ve tried to stick to a strict schedule, but I find that when I force myself to write, it is complete garbage. Find a way that works for you, but keep writing.

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Ginsberg's "Howl" and the Birth of a New Generation of Literature

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A Sage's Passing: Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)