Why “Nil Novi”?

“What has been is what will be,” sayerh the Preacher. “There’s nothing new under the sun.” The final words of Ecclesiastes (the Greek word translated as “preacher”) would be rendered sub sole nil novi: “under the sun, nothing of new.” (Many languages, such as Russian, join the classical ones in using a possessive with a negative. Of all that’s new, not a particle finds its way into daily life… that kind of thing.)

Seems like a strange handle for a blog, I know. The Internet, news, blogposts, the latest–all of this appears diametrically contrary to the notion that life moves in circles. In the first place, I could plead weakly that the other monikers for which I made a bid were taken. My initial choice was “paleo forever”, reflecting my steady affection for things past… but that, improbably, was taken. (And here I thought that I was the only person who regarded novelty as cheap luster!) To move from that abortive first choice to claiming that there’s nothing new whatever, though, represents a small step deeper into skepticism than I had intended.

But I also must confess that I really do agree with the Preacher. “The more it changes,” quipped a French wag in the same vein, “the more it stays the same.” Here I sit, trying to figure out the intricacies of WordPress so that, in the long run, I may build up an online ebook-publishing concern… and the banner at my masthead reads, “Nothing new”? Have I no shame?

I have, and that’s why I’m writing this post. You see, the publishing game has always been a mess of contradictions–at least if you play it with a conscience. You’re trying to get people to stop and notice a discussion so that they will devote several hours to it–and most people have neither the time to spare as they are blown about in the wind nor the intellectual stamina to hold onto a discussion from p. 1 to p. 200. Those that do are hidden in the crowd, a diffuse and quiet minority. Will they respond to the bull horn or the firecracker? Probably not. Be more subtle… but is subtlety not first cousin to trickery?

That’s how you end up writing a blog titled, “Nothing New”. The paradox is not of my creation, but of life’s. And it has always been so: human life has always been paradoxical.