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?