Responding to The Ecstasy of Influence/Embrace the Remix

Lethem’s essay reminded me of a concept discussed The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book I just started reading by Milan Kundera. Kundera opens his novel with a brief description of Nietzsche’s concept of eternal return. This idea basically states that anything that exists once and never returns is meaningless. I think that art, no matter which form, builds on itself and no artist is successful without the influence of others in his or her field. However, artists are scared of unoriginal aspects of their own work due to the influence of others. This fear is unwarranted because influence is not only inevitable, but necessary. On the surface, the idea of having another work influence your own is different than plagiarism. However, when I looked at plagiarism with the idea of eternal return in mind, plagiarism took on a whole new meaning.

With Lethem’s essay, we again see the message through the mode of conveying it. At the end, we realize that everything in the essay was taken from other texts and pieced together. I think that the essay being a collage text was not only clever of Lethem to do, but added a complexity to his message and essay itself.

“We are not self made, we are dependent on one another”— Kirby Ferguson, Embrace the Remix
Nothing is completely and utterly original. Just taking the fact that we contain our parents DNA proves that there is no way to escape influence. Everything builds off something else, just like humans grow and develop with the help of parents, family members, teachers, peers, etc.
Based on the concept of eternal return, something that comes and goes with no hope of being reproduced, remixed, adapted, is merely useless because it has existed only in its own lifespan.
A great musician could write and perform the greatest and most brilliant song ever composed, but if that song exists solely in its one performance, can that song really be great? It is the recording, remixing, reproducing of music, literature, artwork that continues to build the platform in which artists of all forms are able to create their work.

Leave a Reply