Nobody starts out original.. A reflection on “Everything is a Remix”

According to Kirby from Everything is a Remix, “creation requires influence”. So basically, everything that’s ever been written isn’t an original idea. This can say a lot about academic writing. If a teacher asks you to read a poem or short story, the idea from that short story or poem was copied from someone else. So what about plagiarism, which is a serious academic offense? If the masters got their ideas from someone else, what does that say about us?

Say a girl breaks up with her boyfriend and writes a song about it. All love songs and breakup songs follow the same structure. Either I hate you and I’m better off without you or I still love you and I want you back. The words to your song probably won’t even be original, even if you didn’t intentionally copy them from someone else. But there are only so many words to describe the same thing.

“Creativity isn’t magic. It happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials…” I bet Elizabeth Gilbert would have a lot to say about this, considering she wants people to believe that we have geniuses instead of being geniuses. But honestly, how many women have gone through divorces and felt confused and panicked? She traveled to Italy, India and Indonesia. How original is that? Many divorced women feel that way? Granted, not all of them travel the world… probably because they’re paying for the divorce. But there are many other books that tell of women doing the same thing. Maybe Elizabeth’s genius copied off someone else’s.

Basically, this is the sum of what I’ve learned from Kirby: if you want to do something great, you have to remix. If you want to be a good song writer, you have to use some of other people’s materials. To have a hit movie, you have to remake an old movie, turn a book or television show into a movie, or make a sequel. To be a great writer, you have to start with the basics and work your way up. Our class practiced this with our Of Music essays, which used Michel de Montaigne’s Of Smells as a template. (Although I don’t recommend retyping The Great Gatsby.) To be a great writer, you have to read great works. So in my opinion, remixing is a good thing.


One thought on “Nobody starts out original.. A reflection on “Everything is a Remix”

  1. By the way… I think your tag line is perfect for our class… and my comment then fits with this post because we are really remixing things that exist–we’re learning how to surf the waves of information and knowledge that exist in our lives, seeing things in new ways, understanding things from sideways and backwards instead of straight on. The waves are coming, so we need to get our boards and surf. You’re right, I think–that we are what we do with our lives, our souls, our minds.

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