[Proust] had strong notions about the limitations of reading. He thought reading especially useful to the indolent mind, which cannot think in solitude but requires the lubrication of another, superior mind to set its own in thoughtful motion. My guess is that Proust thought his own a mind of this kind. I know my own is; if my thoughts are ever to catch fire, I need to rub them up against those of a finer-grained mind than my own.
— Joseph Epstein, “The Pleasures of Reading,” Narcissus Leaves the Pool
Wait, so, does an indolent mind need lubrication or friction to be productive? Well, I suppose they both work, depending on context. Some writers have an erotic touch, stroking your thoughts to an ecstatic climax, while others, perversely attractive in their utter wrongness, are only good for hate-fucking. Either one can produce a bouncing prose-baby.
At any rate, I am certainly among this class of lesser intellects. I have no impressive thoughts or ideas of my own. Like a magpie, I decorate my nest here with the sparkly thoughts of better writers. Or, perhaps more accurately, like an Egyptian plover bird, I let the more cerebral crocodiles do the hard, bloody work of bringing down big ideas and gnashing them into digestible chunks. After they’re sated, I just dance into their mouths and pick the scraps off their teeth for them.