The other night, I woke up thinking about this story and realizing that it is the perfect example of the re-mixer's belief that "everything comes from something". I'll leave it to the quantum physicists to figure out exactly how the universe began and where all this "something" actually came from. What I'm interested in is culture and how culture is remixed in creative ways to make something new.
Phoebe Gilman's beautiful children's book, Something from Nothing, is a fine example of remixing. It proves, with subtle irony and cleverness, that everything comes from something. I don't think her version of the story is licensed under Creative Commons but I've shared the book at least hundreds of times to wide-eyed audiences just as I'm sure other parents and teachers have done. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading this book, here is a brief summary.
Joseph was born into a practical Jewish family. When he was born, his grandfather made him a blanket which Joseph loved to pieces. When the blanket became tattered, Joseph's grandfather fixed it and changed it into a wonderful jacket. When Joseph outgrows the jacket, his grandfather turns it into a vest, then a tie and so on until the blanket's last reincarnation: a button. Well, one day the button falls off Joseph's pants, as buttons do. Joseph's mother consoles him: "The button is gone, lost, kaput! Even your grandfather can't make something from nothing". Joseph thinks otherwise, and, as his pen goes scritch scratch over the paper, Joseph makes (this) wonderful story.
Phoebe Gilman adapted (remixed) this story from a Jewish Folktale. What she brilliantly added is a story within Joseph's story. Underneath the family home where Joseph's grandfather transforms the blanket, live a family of mice. As the scraps fall from Joseph's blanket, the mice pick them up and turn them into mice-sized blankets, curtains and clothing. When Joseph shares his story with his family, the mice listen too, decked out in remixes of Joseph's blanket.
Jospeh makes something precious - a story - from what we all have: scraps of experience. As Thomas King reminds us, "the truth about stories is that that's all we are".