Rhian made a joke this afternoon--a song parody, actually. And then wondered aloud if anybody had already made this particular parody.
Five seconds on Google told us what we already knew--that if you just made a clever pun, you are approximately the five hundered thousandth living American to think of it. If present-day technology has told us anything, it's that there really is nothing new under the sun. If you've come up with something good, you can bet it's been thought of before. If you can think of something disgusting, guaranteed, somebody has done it, and is probably doing it right now. It can lead one to think that we are not all that different from, say, our chickens, who, while they are sort of distinctive from one another, are basically just chickens--they do the same kind of thing all day long, they seek out their own kind, and the world around them is terrifying and incomprehensible.
That said, there's a good way to interpret this news. And that is that, if we are inherently, inalienably unoriginal, then, ipso facto, it doesn't matter if we're original or not. What does this mean for the writer? If you get inspired to write, say, a poem about rain, or a short story about infidelity, or an essay about your grandma, don't be deterred by the fact that ten million others before you have done the same thing.
Because the only originality that matters is the kind you have no control over--the imprint of your particular personality. We're not like the chickens after all--it may be a cliché to be human, but it isn't a cliché to be a particular human. Indeed, the mark of a great artist is the willingness to embrace the ways in which they are different--to identify and cultivate their own strangeness.
In other words, it's the singer, not the song. Which come to think of it isn't the most original thing in the world to say.