Progress versus Novelty

I have not seen the latest iPhone but

I’m sure it will be a little bit prettier

than the one before it and

the one before that.

Perhaps it will even have a neat


where kids, with pretensions

that their banalities are an event,

can adjust the flashing notifications to be multiple



When they shuttle past a clocktower, or a church

on the way home they will be

on that iPhone, flipping through

TikToks that imitate trends; endless

repetitions of the same,

further developing the conventional;

giving it some slight twist

for amusement.

It was neat, at first, everyone

learning new dances together,

until we weren’t,

or couldn’t figure out



They cannot read the time on the analog clockface,

but it is all the same to them, the empty indifferent container

whose etchings they must translate into numerals that bore them when they’re in math class;

they never have an event unless the steady metronome of the arms somehow stop

and they can leap into a moment in the July Revolution when people fired on French clocktowers

or maybe just glitch out of the ordinary programming for a moment where

everything is “the same, but a little different”, like the preparations before a major storm.


The churches do not seem

to hold the novel power that appeared

in the dusty provinces of Israel two thousand years ago, when people

(so we read) were amazed at what they saw, and said “we have never seen anything like it!”, as though

a new age had dawned

but somehow has been plastered under familiar phrases,

so we lullabied the baby Messiah, and put him

back to sleep, and checked the updates on our phones,

before the phone clock tells us

we must, ourselves, sleep.


Header image found here

2 thoughts on “Progress versus Novelty

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