The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Everything is a remix

I also wanted to mention that the third part of Kirby Ferguson's series "Everything is a Remix," is up and is totally worth watching. The "Everything is a remix" series overall is quite good, and this installment is no exception. The basic premise is that all innovation and invention in art, science and technology is really just remixing. Ferguson defines remixing as: "To combine or edit existing materials to produce something new," and goes on how to explain how music, film, and (in this installment) invention, are just remixes.

In short, what makes new innovations new is really just that they take old things and combine them in new ways.

I remember reading a critique that Jacques Derrida made of Claude Levi-Strauss. Levi-Strauss had said that his methodology as an archaeologist was bricolage, namely taking existing and available tools and using them for new purposes. The opposite would be an engineer, who constructs the proper tool for the proper purpose. Derrida's critique was that all discourse is bricolage. He made this point by pointing to the fact that a new thinker simply couldn't reconstruct "language, syntax, and lexicon" from scratch. In short, all intellectual discourse, that is to say all intellectual history, is bricollage because the thinkers, the philosophers, scientists, historians, economists and so on, are taking language and ideas and trying to use them to to describe new ideas that the language and ideas weren't specifically designed for.

Or, to put Derrida's point in the terms that Ferguson co-opted from music to describe the history of innovation: all intellectual history, including all philosophy, is a remix.

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