David Lose writes:
Creativity is all the rage these days: what it is, how you develop it, the various ways in which you express it. A slew of bestselling books, including my favorite Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer, offers insight into the nature, origin and application of our fundamental, foundational, and phenomenal ability to engage in creative acts.
While the approaches and analyses differ somewhat at various points, one of the major points of convergence revolves around destroying the myth of the “solitary genius.” Creativity doesn’t, in other words, happen in a vacuum – creative ideas are always inspired, nurtured, cajoled, and spurred forward by other ideas. Which means that creative people are always drawing on the work of others, consciously or unconsciously.
Mark Twain said much the same in a letter to Helen Keller, reflecting on an incident years earlier when she had been charged – and acquitted – of plagiarism:
Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that ‘plagiarism’ farce!