The other day in Temporary Expert, the class paused to discuss a common anxiety of artists– what if I’m not original? How do I avoid doing something that has been done before? How do I avoid being over-influenced by my inspirations?
It’s a discussion that immediately made me think of this week’s reading, Screening Information by Mark C. Taylor. I almost read a passage from it in class (I did not, instead voicing my specific objection to the idea that novelists are ever geniuses in isolation. Novelists have editors and readers! They are always readers themselves, influenced by other works. And, often forgotten, often employ their family to type for them– think of Milton and his poor daughters.)
My thinking about originality is closer aligned to Marina’s and Mark C. Taylor’s– I am a vessel for my influences, and I hardly ever fret about it. When it comes to aesthetics, after all, I mostly work in pastiche, so my work is quite clearly the sum of my influences… I can hardly conceal the fact. It’d be silly to try.
I have to admit, though, as the chapter turns from these thoughts to a broader musing on knowledge and screening and the self, my interest in the reading somewhat waned. I find myself reading about porting brains into data banks and wondering, how did this reading get me to this point? I don’t need any reason to write or create other than to please myself. I think, therefore I am disinterested.
This may be a bit of an exaggeration. But too much of this reading is too circular for me to be fully engaged with it, at least for the moment with my head filled with too many thoughts and too many responsibilities. This strikes me as something I would love to revisit, when my heart has less weighing upon it. Perhaps then, I read therefore will think and therefore will be?
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