Sunday, February 25, 2007


RyanH and I have had long conversations about the importance of re-contextualization of culture. It's probably most prevalent in people's minds as a part of hip-hop culture because of musical sampling. However, reference, borrowing, and influence has been an important part of culture for longer than most people acknowledge. Don't think so? What year was West Side Story made? Care to think about it's influences?

Now, I'm thinking about the downstream influences, especially the different sendups of the Jets - Sharks rumble, from ESPN commercials to the Simpsons, to every time I want to break tension between two groups by snapping my fingers.

This Harpers article is amazingly thorough coverage of the subject, and not just in the 20th and 21st centuries. Definitely worth some time to read through (and definitely a time investment; just read the opening bit on Nabakov and see how far in you get).

The Ecstasy of Influence (

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