LITERARY ENTROPY

KT's picture

I was thinking about our readings and discussion this week and was reminded of the laws of thermodynamics (i.e. the energy of the universe is constant and the entropy of the universe is increasing).  It seems like these principles also apply to the creation of new genres and academic writing too. 

In terms of the infinite regress of source materials, perhaps they are the conserved “energy” and all of our different interpretations and changes that we apply to these conserved sources serve to combine but, in doing so, spread out the sources into something “new”… a unique combination.   I think the idea of wanting to produce something that’s different, in any form that it may take  (write, draw, describe) are all ways of taking a finite source and expanding out to something infinite. 

With the ability to reference so many sources on the internet, our ability to combine, but expand, has increased profoundly.  The internet opens our window to new languages, stories, tones of voice, categories of knowledge, graphic representations, interactions, as well as things we’re not even seeking to find (i.e. the surprises that may come up when you Google).  Since you can make many more variants from 100 sources than 5, for example, all of these aspects can make for even greater diversity and boundless creativity.  As the universe is increasing, so are our literary kinds. 

The path that these changes (choose?) to follow is a whole other question.  Why do so many people combine in much the same way?  Why do some forms of writing suffer from a lack of expansion?  How do entropy and evolution intersect?

 

Comments

Ayla's picture

combining in the same way

I too thought about why people combine in much the same way.  This thought struck me as I was reading "The ecstasy of influence" since the writer was able to present many examples throughout history that had the same ideas or themes.  So, it could be that we are all just reading and 'copying' one another.  Or, (even cooler) there is some driving force that brings writers to write about the same things.  The analogy that comes to mind is the emergence of Islam.  When Muhammed, the founder of Islam, received his message from Allah, many of the things that he preached resonated with Christianity at the time.  However, Muhammed had no way of being reached by Christianity, which has been heavily researched by Islamic scholars.  So, even if one chooses to think that Muhammed was not a prophet but a man who created a religion so his name would live on, it is still curious that he created similar ideas as other religions of the time.  It is just a mystery.  So, religion in general makes me think of our writing today.  Are all these religions created from new?  Are they enhancements of previous religious thought?  Are they plagiarizing?  

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