The fact that history repeats itself is noted in many an expression, including “Everything is cyclical,” “Looking back epitomizes modernity,” and even “Back to the future.” But is anyone listening?

If you want to know how to prepare for the future, just ask talent agents or… cell phone manufacturers. The former are now advising their clients that everything is cyclical and that talent should invest in their careers by keeping an eye to traditional television.

That history repeats itself (an old saying that has been replaced by “Everything is cyclical”) has just been rediscovered by, among others, Samsung, Motorola, and Alcatel, which have just re-introduced the iconic “flip” phones of the 1990s. Even Mark Zuckerberg went back to 1992 to look for a new corporate name for his Facebook: Meta, for metaverse, which means mixing virtual and real reality. The current expression of “metaverse” was introduced in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash.

And now that the few remaining cinemas have gone digital, 35-millimeter film projectionists are being sought after by specialized movie theaters in New York City. As a recent article in the Arts section of The New York Times was titled, “The Old is New, Again and Again.”

Now, a few words about this overused expression, “History repeats itself.” Apparently, it has several fathers. The first seems to be Irish statesman Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who once wrote: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” Then came German philosopher Karl Marx (1818-1883), who said, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” Third was Spanish philosopher Jorge Santayana (1863-1952), credited with the aphorism, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Finally, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1955) couldn’t help but contribute with his: “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Wanting to throw my own two cents into the ring, I came up with the expression, “Time changes tragedy into comedy,” when describing my 2019 book I Was Frail: The Revenge of the B12 Vitamin, which described how I couldn’t help but laugh when recalling heartrending events from my youth (like when my father, who was in an ambulance due to a severe bout of Crohn’s disease, was complaining that his chicken dinner had sent him to the hospital).

Because of my fondness for “cyclical” expressions, I take pride in returning to them again and again, even though the links between “Time changes tragedy into comedy” and “History repeats itself” are evident only through the aforementioned Karl Marx’s quote.

The point of this My2¢ is that the content industry needs to keep focusing on today’s trends and technologies without losing sight of upcoming trends, which most likely will be something that will take us back to the future.

Today, even the fashion world is looking back, with casual garments generally said to “epitomize moder-nity,” but which are mo-deled after the stylish looks of the 1960s, as seen in the movies of the late French director Jean-Luc Godard.

The question is: The news is obviously out, but is anyone buying it? Some readers could see this insistence of mine on “looking back” as a sign of conservationism, but I’d argue that it is instead a sign of progressivism, if not outright modernity.

(By Dom Serafini)

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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