Indifference to source allows us to assimilate what we read, what we are told, what others say and think and write and paint, as intensely and richly as if they were primary experiences. It allows us to see and hear with other eyes and ears, to enter into other minds, to assimilate the art and science and religion of the whole culture, to enter into and contribute to the common mind, the general commonwealth of knowledge. This sort of sharing and participation, this communion, would not be possible if all our knowledge, our memories, were tagged and identified, seen as private, exclusively ours. Memory is dialogic and arises not only from direct experience but from the intercourse of many minds.
- Oliver Sacks on the fallibility of memory and its implications for inspiration and creativity.
Our brains would be overwhelmed within minutes were we to keep track of information sources as if we housed a neural Library of Congress. The imperfect nature of our minds also allows them great flexibility when it comes to creating new experiences. Those, too, will surely be later assimilated by recipients into their own works.
This is not to say that stealing someone’s creation is right, because it is not. But it reminds us that combinatorial creativity is written in the very nature of our biological memory, and we are subject to a very subjective truth.
Check out the complete, amazing article: Speak, Memory in The New York Review of Books
I can’t help but be reminded of Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix series when I read this. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
Fly Fox Hunting
80-year-old cabin in the Northern Black Forest, Germany.
Photograph by Joachim Klemm.
Bad Homburg, Germany (by Count__Zero)
Winslow Homer, The Fog Warning, American, 1885