and directly implicating the experience of their work in your own personal history. Inevitably the material we consume - visually, through words, with ears, etc. - massages the individual's subjectivity into a slightly different shape [evolved] whereby the tracing of impact equates to modification of the preexisting form.
Is Foucault still right? Has everything always already been said? Has it all been done before? If our horizon of understanding is shaped by ideology, we can also say that any discursive material [here reading "text" to be any form capable of signification] inflicts a similar effect as Althusser’s ISAs [ideological state apparatuses] on the individual's own interpretive and productive activities. Does this lead to the conclusion that we are (to use culture studies' favorite celebrity prefix) "Post-Creativity," especially now that the always already has become a slogan for its own nihilistic message?
Barbara Johnstone in "Prior Texts, Prior Discourses," (from Discourse Analysis ) defined a prior text in relation to the accumulation of an individual’s experience. This concept is brought into relationship with intertexutality (which I believe can be read, in relation to knowledge construction, as a synonym for the products of individual’s creativity) by Johnstone and summarized as the following:
"Intertextuality refers to the ways in which all discourse draws on familiar formats and texts, previously-used styles and ways of acting, and familiar plots," [Johnstone 2002]. Prior texts, then, are those texts recognized from past experience that constitute intertextual relations within a focus text. (From my previous work here).
If prior texts invariably influence a person’s subjectivity over time, how conscious are the re-workings or re-surfacing of a prior text in a “new” creative work (an intertextual production)? I believe that the tracing of any prior text to its “source” text is extremely difficult (we tried a few exhausting exercises like this in my Linguistics Intertextuality course). In some cases, it may be damn near impossible, not to mention that again, the level of the individual’s conscious recognition of an experience with a prior text influences their identification of it.
So, who thought of Don Henley when that Atari song came out a few summers ago? "Boys of Summer" was a nearly direct remake of the eighties version. I thought it was kind of cute when they switched the original lyrics from “Saw a DEADHEAD sticker on a Cadillac” to “Saw a BLACK FLAG sticker…” Is this insertion an intertextual creative production? Is the Atari’s “version” actually a “new” text? Is it because the “original” Don Henley song still exists in too many people’s lived experience of it as a prior text that the Atari song could never in this lifetime be considered an “original” work?
Obviously cover songs are a bit more black and white to deal with given the label we’ve created for them. But, I do believe it brings up an interesting point in terms of creativity, artistic texts, and the general circulation of ideas. Lawrence Lessig has written extensively and argued in front of Congress for the public commons, including intellectual and creative works. As he notes in The Future of Ideas, “In a legal sense, the regulations within which the network lives are increasingly shifting power away from innovators and toward those who would stifle innovation.” The examples he cites in the text are scary and far too close to home as an artist and as a writer. I remind myself to take the free circulation of ideas in conversation lightly whenever read Lessig [who, I admit, can be a bit over-aggrandizing at times], or generally any other text on the latest on Internet standard developments, especially the open source movement:: some philosophy:: , or other practices [here re: content] that are rapidly structuring our key means of communication (i.e. circulation of ideas) today.
An appropriate circle with which to end this today nudges towards a reading of quotation’s hegemonic weight on creativity and individual character.
(quoted from Quotation Marks by Marjorie Garber):
“If, for the sake of a crowded audience you do wish to hold a lecture, your ambition is no laudable one, and at least avoid all citations from the poets, for to quote them argues feeble industry.” – Hippocrates, Precepts