I'm coming to the conclusion that everything I write has its roots in the words of somebody else. I feel incapable of thinking anything worth saying without using another artist for direct inspiration. This is not a bad thing - look at Alain de Botton's The Art of Travel, for instance, or Tom Hodkginson's How to be Idle, both of which rely at least partly on the presentation and then transformation of existing texts. But it does seem a very internet-age thing. Intertextuality is everywhere; isn't that what hyperlinks are a manifestation of? Even in the first paragraph of this blog post I've referenced, and linked to, two other websites, and two other books. The Internet doesn't work without links; the web falls apart if we don't constantly keep building it.
When Julia Kristeva coined the term “intertextuality” in the 1960s, she was using it to describe how "any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another." A few years ago I started writing a book which is based entirely on this idea; the words and the story were all mine, but they were nothing without the framework given to me by the excerpts and ideas of others, from Dorothy L. Sayers to Gustave Flaubert.
I use the internet a lot. At work, at home, in between. I exist almost constantly in the online space even as I concurrently exist in the physical world. And what I can't tell is this: do I write the way I do because we're in a digital era? Or do I so enjoy the digital era because it adheres to the way I think ideas should function?
Chicken, egg. Either way, I think that hyperlinks and intertextuality - whether online or in print - are what makes ideas come alive.