I still feel a very strong and positive pleasure in being stranded in queer quiet places, in neglected corners where nothing happens and anything may happen; in unfashionable hotels, in empty waiting-rooms, or in watering-places out of the season. It seems as if we needed such places, and sufficient solitude in them, to let certain nameless suggestions soak into us and make a richer soil of the subconsciousness.
— G. K. Chesterton, “On the Thrills of Boredom,” All is Grist
I only read this particular essay of Chesterton’s a few weeks ago, but I wrote this post nearly a decade ago, all of which reminds me of something Gary Saul Morson wrote in The Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture:
In the fourth century, Aelis Donatus wrote a line that frequently appears in today’s quotation analogies, “Confound those who have said our remarks before us.” But with reverse quotation, our predecessors are quoting us! Instead of a “burden of the past,” in which the achievements of earlier generations rob us of opportunities for creativity, there could be a burden of the future, in which what we say merely echoes words to come. Imagine objecting: That man was quoting what I am going to say. He plagiarized what I am destined to write. However odd, it is a feeling we sometimes have. We know we created a certain thought or set of words, and so, when we discover them already expressed long ago, it feels as if they had been stolen from us in advance.