THE ECSTASY OF INFLUENCE
by Jonathan Lethem
Lifting ideas from other writers is an important act of cultural exchange, writes Jonathan Lethem in his latest book, The Ecstasy of Love. And too often this act is deemed “plagiarism.” Nominally a collection of his nonfiction, the garrulous book is more of a treatise on Lethem’s thoughts regarding the “open source” nature of creativity — borrowing, referencing, collaging other people’s work — and how corporate influence has strangled this. (Yes, he takes issue with the nation’s draconian copyright laws.) From Philip K. Dick to The Godfather, James Brown to Shirley Jackson, the topics of Lethem’s essays collected here make plain the love and gratitude he has for his influences. And as the current master of blending “genre” fiction, notably science fiction, with his more high-minded literary projects, he knows the power of building one thing from many.
Admit it. You’re a junkie. You can’t get enough of Obama, Romney, caucuses, primaries and polls. The New York Times is here to help with its Election 2012 app. For the misguided few who don’t trust the Grey Lady’s journalism, have no fear. This app aggregates election info from all kinds of media. A recent day had links to ABC News, CNN, Businessweek, the Washington Post, Roll Call… you get the picture. But, naturally, the bulk of articles come from the Times, and what’s wrong with that? The app — like all things Times-related — has a clean, easy to navigate layout. And it’s free.
Do you ever wonder where those hip, young bloggers ever get those zany ideas for post after post, day after day? Look no farther than Buzzfeed.com, the web’s compendium of random stuff that readers vote will go viral the fastest. Content on the site changes quickly, so refresh, refresh, refresh! At one point last week, the site featured a link to Lettermon.com, which satirized David Letterman and turned him Rasta; photos of Michael Cera and Hitler’s mom (they look alike!); and a video of a former Australian premier chugging a beer. So random, so funny.