2.06.2013

The Pact of Originality

As someone who holds originality as one of the most important qualities in a person, I can tell you it pisses me off to no end when someone steals an idea. It's even worse when it is stolen and portrayed as original, or stolen and used for profit. I've seen it happen with art, inventions, jokes, and even something as simple an image lifted off a blog without proper attribution. When did it become okay to do this? Why do people think that they can take someone else's creation and pass it off as their own?

Originality and Plagiarism on Twitter | Crappy Candle
Are we really this ignorant and lazy?

Every so often something out there on the world wide web surfaces and that someone receives wild praise for their original idea. Every so often, that wild praise throws me into a blind rage. Case in point: Alexa Meade. I wrote a blog post about this three years ago, and her art recently popped up in my Tumblr feed. To clarify, I have nothing against Alexa Meade's art. It is interesting and engaging and obviously people are going goo-goo-gaga over it. My issue is the fact that one the major accolades she receives from critics and casual admirers is how damned original she is. How she is "reinventing" the medium. I went on a Google tirade to see if in the last three years, anyone else (besides me), has made the connection between her 4 year old idea of painting-on-people-to-make-them-look-like-paintings and The Pageant of the Master's 70 year old idea of painting-on-people-to-make-them-look-like-paintings. I really wanted to see if Meade had acknowledged the fact that her idea had been done before... 70 years before. Aside from a two commenters on blogs (who had been shamed via down-voting) and a lone blogger who trivialized the connection, I found nothing. Nada. I left my computer in a huff after typing "I hate Alexa Meade" and seeing this:

i hate alexa meade | Crappy Candle
At least I know it will now show up in Google because of this blog post.

The experience got me thinking about something that has always haunted me. Is anything one hundred percent original? Including my idea that nothing is one hundred percent original? Hell, The Barenaked Ladies even wrote a song about it. And there's this fabulous lady...



I remember once talking to one of my good friends about music. She was saying that music is inherently mathematical, so eventually, mathematically speaking, we will run out of original melodies. I told her that the same was true for ideas and stories, but she disagreed with me. It's still something I think about. All. the. time. I often fear that my "idea well" will run dry some day and I will be left as a dried husk of a Shay. It's absolutely terrifying.

I don't think there is self-manifesting mind fountain, that flows freely from of each of our brains, and allows for an abundance of novel ideas. All ideas come from somewhere. Unless you are a robot, or living in a vacuum, you are constantly being influenced by your environment. All ideas are inspired, if only subconsciously, from our own life experiences, and yes, the experiences and ideas of those who have come before us. Not giving credence to this is a slap in the face of our ancestors. Yes, I actually wrote that because I actually mean it.

I also believe that our creativity and our God given individuality is what sets us apart from each other. I believe it is one of the major contributors to meaning and identity in life. We are not of a hive-mind, Borg mentality here, people. We need to continue to diversify ourselves, our way of thinking, and our ideas in order to progress as human beings. Revel in your uniqueness, otherwise, we're just a bunch of people, regurgitating the same old shit whilst rolling around in it. Gross.
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