What’s Old Is New

Reading Ross Douhat’s excellent post on the new Trek movie, I had a revelation. Many of the stories we are familiar with — the Arthur legend, ancient mythology, the Iliad, etc., are version of stories that were being continually reinvented. The Arthur legend, for example, passed through many many versions to and beyond the one crystallized by Mallory. The Iliad shows signs of having been revised many time before it was written down.

We’re seeing that process applied to modern pop culture. Many of the stalwarts of comic books and movies are reinventing themselves to shed the labyrinthine continuity with which they are shackled. James Bond, Batman, Superman, X-Men and now Trek retain the forms but dance differently, rediscovering the story in a new way.

I’m not saying that 3000 years from now, people will still be watching Batman Begins as a classic of 20th century film. But it’s amazing to see the pattern repeat and to know that it has been going on, not just for the last few years, but ever since human beings began telling stories to pass the time.

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