David, the notion of new ideas growing out of the past ideas rotting away reminds me of the work of Brian Eno and the notion of scenius
Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.
In an interview on musical interpretations, Eno suggests:
I always think that whenever you listen to a piece of music, what you are actually doing is hearing the latest sentence in a very long story you’ve been listening to—all the pieces of music you’ve ever heard. So what you are listening to are tiny differences, tiny innovations. Something new is added, something you’ve grown used to is omitted, something you thought you were familiar with sounds different.
While in a conversation with Daniel Lanois, he argues that ‘beautiful things grow out of shit’:
If you walk around with the idea that there are some people who are so gifted—they have these wonderful things in their head but and you’re not one of them, you’re just sort of a normal person, you could never do anything like that—then you live a different kind of life. You could have another kind of life where you could say, well, I know that things come from nothing very much, start from unpromising beginnings, and I’m an unpromising beginning, and I could start something.
Austin Kleon sums this up as follows:
Genius is an egosystem, scenius is an ecosystem.