When I was a child, the world seemed like a endless series of reruns. My family would watch episodes of Star Trek NG like meeting old friends-- friends we were sure we'd see again soon. If a movie, a book, a state forest, a water park was good, we'd be back to do it again. I thought life was like your own TV station: you might schedule an occasional documentary or use primetime for the latest show, but there was always plenty of slots for old favorites.
Now days, there doesn't seem to be time to do anything more than once. The opportunity cost of seeing a movie you've already seen or visiting a city you've already been to is far too high. Even developing favorite restaurants in a city with 18,000 of them seems a shame (at over 200 new restaurants a year, it would take 130 years to try them all for dinner).
Flame introduced me to a TV series, "Flight of the Conchords", by the New Zealand self-same comedy duo about themselves. We borrowed the series from the library, loved them all, and now they're returned, never to be seen again. I tracked down two movie favorites of my childhood that my parents had recorded on VHS: The Long Ships (1964) and Land of the Pharaohs (1955). I watched a couple scenes on youtube, only to realize that I would probably never choose to sit through the whole films again.
Yet, I cannot justify it. Modern culture, and the city in particular, feeds our bottomless thirst for experience. The existence of always something new invites us to never return to anything. But to return is to deepen, to recognize, to get to know. Is the mind kept sharp by an endless buffeting of new experience, or is it kept sidetracked? What if this windy path toward wisdom winds ever further out of the way?
But Arthur Rimbaud wrote, "One must be absolutely modern." Not because of the glory or rewards in modernity, for it is more likely to serve up poverty and hanging fog. But because it is our time and it won't wait.