Jonathan Lethem explains his views on influence and originality:
I think originality is a word of praise for things that have been expressed in a marvelous way and that make points of origin for any particular element beside the point. When you read Saul Bellow or listen to Bob Dylan sing, you can have someone point to various cribbings and it won’t matter, because something has been arrived at which subsumes and incorporates and transcends these matters. In that way, sourcing and originality are two sides of the same coin, they’re a nested partnership.
I don’t think originality has any value as a description of process. In that regard it's as meaningless a process word as beauty is. No artist says, "Let me sit down and do some beauty now."