‘There’s nothing new under the sun,’ said the old man, his arthritic knees popping audibly as he stretched them out, rather effectively punctuating his point, or so he thought.
‘That’s stupid,’ said the young man. He stretched his own legs without sound, save for the rustling his skin-tight denim fashion made as his legs rubbed against each other. He took this silence to be an effective counterpoint to the old man’s audible argument. ‘Everything is new. Every moment on this planet is a new event that has never occurred before, a tiny moment of individuality.’
‘Piffle,’ the old man said, enjoying his outmoded vernacular almost as much as he had enjoyed the reassuring sound of his body’s rebellion against him. ‘All of these new things you think you see around you have happened before, again and again. The colours might change, the hairstyles, the tones, but it has all been before.’ He sucked his gums in pleasure at his own certainty. They tasted of onions. Why did his gums always taste of onions these days?
‘So your argument is that nothing can be truly original?’ the callow youth asked, pushing his fringe out of his eyes and checking to see if any girls had witnessed the magical moment. But he and the old man were alone.
‘Of course not. Take your modern music, for instance: It’s all derivative, all recycled ideas.’
‘So you can’t take a series of different influences and create something new out of them?’ The boy struggled not to sound patronising to the old man, who likewise struggled not to patronise the barely formed manfoetus in front of him.
‘No. It’s just pastiche. Watered down piffle.’ He really did like the word piffle. ‘Never again will we have a great idea; a grand new musical event. There will be no new jazz. No new blues. No new rock and roll. You had your last chance with rap, and look how you pissed that away on emptiness, on feckless shallow consumerism.’
The pair sat in silence for a moment. The youth was trying to find some kind of counter-argument, but in truth, he was young and he knew nothing. Of course, he didn’t understand this, couldn’t come to this realisation until later, when it would be too late to do anything about it. So instead, he just swung his legs under the bench, stared at the bright laces on his footwear. In truth, he didn’t much care what the old man thought. Why would anyone care about an old man’s thoughts?
The old man sat there in triumph, his chest swelling with the last joy that remained to him in this otherwise empty, cold, hard world. He had successfully punctured the idealism of a young person! He would feast on that for some time, maybe even long enough to get him to the evening’s soaps, when he could forage up something to get him angry enough to hold him over until his bedtime.
‘Except,’ the boy said, his brain fighting desperately for processing power against memories of animated gifs depicting people falling over that had so enslaved his synapses. ‘All of human existence, all of history, all of science and nature, is taking the old and making it new. Every achievement is taking the past and twisting it. Our DNA is a combination of the genetic code of our parents, in the same way that rock and roll is a combination of jazz, blues, country, classical music and everything else.’
‘So?’ The old man grumbled. ‘That just proves my point. There is nothing new under the sun.’
‘No,’ the young man said, becoming animated and excitable in the way that young people in tight trousers do. ‘You’ve missed the point. Every new combination throws up a new and original thing.’
‘Sorry, can I butt in here?’ asked the reader.
‘What?’ the two replied in unison.
‘What the hell has any of this got to do with the new Dillinger Escape Plan album?’ the voice asked, incredulous in its incredulity.
‘You don’t think it is relevant to have a discussion on the concept of originality when talking about a record that purports to be breaking boundaries and doing something original?’ The old man asked.
‘Actually I don’t think people still call them ‘records’ any more,’ the young man replied.
‘Oh no, they still do,’ said the reader.
‘I’ve still got a box of old ‘75s in my attic,’ said the old man. ‘Nothing that will play them, though.’
‘Look,’ said the reader. ‘I just want to know if the new Dillinger album is any good.’
‘Well that’s probably not true, is it?’ the young man said. ‘You’ve probably heard most of it by now, and you’re looking to see if your own opinion tallies with that of the author of this piece.’
‘I haven’t heard it actually,’ the reader said.
‘Oh, you really should then,’ the old man replied. ‘It rocks like a motherfucker.’
Silence. The young man gave the old man a ‘what-did-you-do-that-for’ look, which pleased the old man nearly as much as proving the young man wrong. But then he remembered he hadn’t really proved the young man wrong, and sagged, deflated.
‘Thank you,’ said the reader.
‘That’s all I wanted to know really,’ said the reader.
‘This has been a bit of a fucking waste of time other than that though,’ the reader added.
‘I suppose. Didn’t you know what you were letting yourself in for?’
‘Who is even talking now?’
‘Fuck knows. Fuck cares?’