It is a frightening word; for, it is what we all strive for, yet almost always fall short, fail or attempt to justify and obfuscate for not quite reaching that goal.
Fortunately, there are at least two, but likely an infinite number of, avenues of avoidance in being charged with its lack: First, and fortunately, plagiarism is not a criminal offense and, moreover, no one really seems to care except in the most egregious of instances, and furthermore, for those professing to be constrained by Catholic orthodoxy, it isn’t even a venial sin, let alone a mortal one.
Second (and ad infinitum as to the corollaries, so that we do not have to go beyond the phrase, “And secondly” or engage in the Internet’s most popular search engine contrivances that always includes, “Five ways to..” or the “Ten most important…”), there is always an excuse for its lack, beginning with: “Well, I did the best I could”; “It’s not so important to be unique as to feel good about yourself”, and the dead ringer: “There is no originality left; everything has already been spoken for.”
Is that why the period between “the original” and “the remake” keeps becoming shorter and shorter? Is it an unavoidable truism that – from themes and plots for stories, novels and other similar genres, to television shows and movies, as well as songs and artworks – there is a limit of finite constraints that even human creativity cannot avoid?
History reveals that originality of profound dimensions will arise in spurts and burps; from Continental Europe’s juggernaut of painters and writers, to America’s continuum of astounding literary greats including Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Updike to Vonnegut; and, in the great tradition and power of the Russian novelists and playwrights, from Dostoevsky to Chekhov and multiple others, without even reaching back to centuries preceding, the originality of works steeped in profound insights cannot be denied.
Has modernity followed a similar course, or has the bludgeoning of unceasing informational overload tempered the capacity of human creativity?
There is a known, coy quip about the formulaic recipe for great literary or visual works: “Have a terrible childhood, and write about it.” Thus, such a perspective is reinforced by Dickens and other coconspirators. A cousin to that rule is to live through political turmoil under repressive circumstances, and the validation for that is revealed by Eastern European and South American writers of current vintage, especially now that translations have been improved and perfected.
For Federal Gov. employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits, to be filed with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the concern about originality should enter but only in a cursory manner.
Facts must guide; the evidence will prevail.
In preparing answers to the connivances of questions required on SF 3112A (a form known as the Applicant’s Statement of Disability), do not try to be “original” in writing the narrative of one’s life, medical conditions and the impact upon one’s positional duties.
Remember always the other quip that must be recognized: That each individual is already a paradigm of the original, and while the narrative engaged may not always be unique, and the reviewer at OPM may have “seen one and seen them all”, it is nevertheless one of a kind whether recognized and acknowledged by others, precisely because the life-experiences the Federal Disability Retirement applicant has endured has been nothing but original in the first instance.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire