When I was younger, I was convinced that I made up the song “Kumbayah My Lord”. My sister even said: oh that’s a catchy song, where did you hear it. And I told her I made it up, because I wholeheartedly believed I did…that was until I heard in school one day.
I think the idea of cryptomnesia that Lethem brings up in his article applies to every aspect of creation whether some people admit it or not. We are copiers from birth: we copy the habits of our parents, their speech, their tastes, and so much more. When it comes to art and music, we produce what we like. And in order to know what we like, we must have some previous notion of taste.
In Ferguson’s TED talk he brings up Bob Dylan’s remixing of older folk tunes. Whether or not Dylan had the intention of copying these older songs is something we will never know, but at the very core of it, music is just a combination of the same 12 notes. In my opinion it’s difficult to criticize artists who appropriate and remix because I don’t believe there is anything to consider “original”. We are constantly being inspired by our surroundings and our memories.