The Latecomer: A Manifesto

Praise be to the latecomer! And glory to all behind the curve! To those slow on the uptake, to those who’ve lost touch, to the TV-on-DVD-watcher, to the last-year’s-music-listener, to the blog-archive-reader, to the Youtube-clip’s-ten-millionth-viewer, to the premier-misser, to the memedeaf, to the unhip, I say: lift high your heads!

Take a minute to think about it, then lift high your heads!

Recoil no longer from the scornful glances of your hip companions, and heed not the bemused whats of the newspaper-trawlers peering over their lowered rectangular glasses, for you are superior, your position is greater. As John Milton, an epic latecomer himself, wrote, “They also serve who onely stand and wait.”

For you know that the search for the new is a fool’s quest, and that there is nothing new under the sun. What is novel is nothing, and all is repetition. You have seen it all before, and know that it can wait, and that it shall be there in the bargain bins and the garage sales when you return.

No, you are not apathetic nor cynical. The fire burns – nay, simmers – in your belly, too, but it will penetrate to the core in its own good time. Aye, and once it reaches, it holds, and is as an aeternal flame to a long-gone martyr, ne’er to be extinguished. Your pursuits are no less passionate, but you pursue cultural phenomena as relics, not innovations. Indeed, you are the missing link between hipster and classicist.

In the hyper-consumerism of late capitalism, exacerbated by the development of communication technologies, novelty is peddled as the good, the cutting edge as the beautiful, and the latest as the greatest. The market wants you to consume, but only what is new, for that is how it grows. Newspapers, magazines, booksellers, blogs, internet analysts – all are party to this system. Books and films are evaluated when first released, when re-released, or when their creators perish from this earth. But what of the has-beens, and those unjustly languishing in obscurity? Where is the Five-Year Book Review, the VHS Discussion Forum, the Moldy Archive Report?

I say, let us reconsider! Let us take a step back, ponder, take notes, and then weigh in! Unleash yourself from the shackles of the now and arise, arise! Check to see that the coast is clear, then arise! For only through the latecomer is presentism conquered!

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