Inspiration: Jonathan Lethem’s “Ecstacy of Influence”

The writer Jonathan Lethem on why copyright in this country is ineffective for creative vitality. In the process, he discusses the frontiers of art that borrows and quotes, including some gems on objecthood, strangeness, the flatness of reality and gift economies. As in, art as a gift. He’s responding to Harold Bloom’s book, The Anxiety of Influence, a treatise on originality that can be creatively stifling.

Though Lethem’s central argument is not my main concern, there’s many parts of the essay that are thought-provoking and energizing my studio practice. Read it on Harper’s website.

[This came across my radar by way of writer David Buuck. Lethem’s article is also a piece of conceptual writing (that is, its form is determined by its content), but I won’t spoil the surprise at the end.]


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