On the problems of thinking the concept of "new" and "novelty' in the English language.
"The main noun we have for the new, novelty, has got all sorts of pejorative connotations. In a number of fields, innovation is used for significant developments, and novelty is used for trivial, temporary ones, despite the fact that an innovation is etymologically just a change in something and not a completely new thing in itself. And the plural, novelties, is used for the most ephemeral kinds of trinkets and doo-dads..... The new.... is not something our language makes it very easy to discuss."
"The phrase is actually ancient, and Pound adapted it from a Confucian text. In the original it has nothing to do with art, but is an exhortation to rulers to keep their principles fresh and up-to-date. Pound didn’t translate the phrase until the late 1920s and it wasn’t picked up by anyone else until the 1950s. So the common notion that it was some sort of rallying-cry for modern artists and writers is wrong. My argument in the book is that it became influential only when modernism was on the wane, as critics and scholars faced the problem of what to do when the new becomes old. In fact, scholarly and critical use of the phrase has drastically simplified the actual ideas of modernist writers and artists about novelty, which are actually quite complicated and conflicted. The idea that “Make It New” designates some uncompromising devotion to artistic innovation is mocked by the simple fact that it is itself a very old slogan.
"The book does stop with the neo-avant-garde in the 1970s.... There’s a certain inherent appeal in talking about the present, so it would have been interesting to take the analysis farther, but at the same time it’s harder to be confident about developments that are still going on. And I think, where the issue of novelty is concerned, we are still stuck with the same set of problems and questions that were defined in the polemics of the 1960s and 1970s. How do you keep on being new? How can you be new when newness itself seems passé? I think these are questions we are still stuck with."