March 9, 2009
Retronovation n. The conscious process of mining the past to produce methods, ideas, or products which seem novel to the modern mind. Some recent examples include Pepsi Throwback’s use of real sugar, Pepsi Natural’s glass bottle, and General Mills’ introduction of old packaging for some of their cereals. In general, the local & natural food and farming thing that’s big right now is all about retronovation…time tested methods that have been reintroduced to make food that is closer to what people used to eat. (I’m sure there are non-food examples as well, but I can’t think of any.)
No sooner does Jason oh-so-gently throw down the gauntlet than Waxy, who almost certainly meant nothing of the kind, answers the question by linking to an amazing post about a transcript of a story conference between George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Lawrence Kasdan about Raiders of the Lost Ark:
(Key: G = George; S = Steven; L = Larry)
G — The thing with this is, we want to make a very believable character. We want him to be extremely good at what he does, as is the Clint Eastwood character or the James Bond character. James Bond and the man with no name were very good at what they did. They were very, fast with a gun. they were very slick, they were very professional. They were Supermen.
S — Like Mifune.
G — Yes, like Mifune. He’s a real professional. He’s really good. And that is the key to the whole thing. That’s something you don’t see that much anymore.
Mining 1930s throwaway serials and 60s genre films to create the blueprint for 1980s blockbusters = retronovation, definitely.
But while we’re on the subject, let me say a little about the word itself. I write a lot of things super-fast. But I toiled over this word. “Retrovation”? I asked. “Retrinnovation”? It was Mayostard/Mustardayonnaise all over again. “Retronovation” is the clear winner, not only because it sounds better, but because it’s etymologically correct: retro + nova => “backwards new.” (Or, “return to begin.”) Also, hats off to Jason for omitting the hyphen (i.e. “retro-novation”). Fie on the hyphen! The hyphen is only there to draw attention. In fact, I’ve retronovatively changed the word in my original post to scrap the hyphen I put there. Vive retronovation! Old is the new now!