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Jul 5, 2020

From Douglas Kearney's "Playing the Changing Same:"

There’s a saying that goes, “the more things change the more they stay the same.” It’s worn, maybe, but not played out. More than whatever truth it holds, I’ve been drawn to the maxim’s symmetry and paradox, something I might describe to my students as holding a contradiction in its hands.

Yet, it does make an argument. If I take the saying and break it down, as a philosopher might have once suggested, to its very last compound, I find myself at: “change/same.” In this, I see the formula for “pattern”: a structure that requires—and amplifies—the simultaneous presence of change and sameness. In full, the adage includes “more things,” and this, I think is important to remember. In “more things”—imprecise and multiplicitous—we have the opportunity for variation, difference, changes on the changes. These should not, however, distract us from recognizing the big pattern, the changing same at the saying’s bottom. And that big pattern? It stays happening despite the differences playing over its surface.

To read the full essay, visit

Music: "Shift of Currents" by Blue Dot Sessions // CC BY-NC 2.0