Jonathan Lethem on The Ecstasy of Influence: 10 Years Later

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 - 7:30pm to 10:15pm

For their 10th anniversary, The Plagiarists are delighted to partner with Voice of the City to host New York Times bestselling author and MacArthur fellow Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude, Motherless Brooklyn) for a discussion about The Ecstasy of Influence - Lethems essay on cultural ownership and artistic inspiration that served as the manifesto for the fledgling company. The event will be at Voice of The City, 3429 West Diversey Avenue, at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $25.

The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism was published originally in Harpers in 2007 and later served as the title essay for Lethems 2011 collection of nonfiction. The essay explores the nature of inspiration and critiques current cultural thinking about artistic ownership, arguing that art is intended as a gift to the person who experiences it. He says, The kernel, the soullet us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterancesis plagiarism ... Don't pirate my editions; do plunder my visions. The name of the game is Give All. You, reader, are welcome to my stories. They were never mine in the first place, but I gave them to you. Lethem draws distinction between plagiarism - passing off someones work as ones own - and the kind of borrowing, combining, recontextualizing, and adapting that is actually how a lot of the artistic process works and has for a long time. The essay itself closes with an extended bibliography of all the sources Lethem drew on in creating it. This essay led Lethem to create The Promiscuous Materials Project, where he made many of his short stories available for adaptation for a dollar.

When The Plagiarists started out, they were inspired by the ideas in Lethems essay and it has formed the work theyve done ever since. Several of their early plays were even adaptations of Lethem stories from The Promiscuous Materials Project. On May 30th, Voice of the City will co-host with The Plagiarists an evening of discussion with Lethem, focusing on The Ecstasy of Influence and his ideas about artistic inspiration and ownership.

Jonathan Lethem is the New York Times bestselling author of ten novels, including Dissident Gardens, Chronic City, Girl In Landscape, The Fortress Of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn (National Book Critics Circle Award, Salon Book Award, Macallan Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger, Esquire Novel of the Year). He has also written short story collections, novellas, and essay collections, edited The Vintage Book of Amnesia, guest-edited The Year's Best Music Writing 2002, and was the founding fiction editor of Fence magazine. His essay collection THE ECSTASY OF INFLUENCE was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, in 2005 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, and his work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers Magazine, Rolling Stone, Esquire, McSweeneys, and The New York Times, among other publications.

The Plagiarists are a theatre company who steal from literature, visual art, history, and the culture at large to create new theatre that finds the familiar in the strange, the unique in the commonplace, and ultimately enlarges the world. The Plagiarists are a 501c3 corporation. All donations will be tax deductible.  www.theplagiarists.org

As a multi-arts alliance, Voice of the City unites the finest Chicago artists with each other and the residents of Logan Square/Avondale -- connecting quality arts experiences to community

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Voice of the City
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