Spirals of culture (not cycles)

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A great thought emerged from my conversation with Bob Elms on Friday lunchtime, with regard to how things like fashion and music change.

Many use the metaphor of cycles – the 1970s and 80s remembering the 1950s (Grease), the 2000s remembering the 1970s (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) and so on. Things just get endlessly repeated.

It feels very true but at the same time very claustrophobic: no novelty just endless copying.

Instead, Robert suggested we think of the pattern as a spiral – changing overtime as the reinterpretations add new elements (through copying error) and drop others (ditto).

I like this metaphor – it seems to reflect something important about our recycling of old cultural tropes. What do you think?