Art and Culture 10: Originality Doesn’t Exist

16 Feb
Source image: https://jeffdegraff.com/blog/2014/07/originality-is-not-all-that-original/

Easy there reader, just needed your attention. When this conversation starts, I just blink and stare at the person (or the screen when I read articles with this exact title). The problem is that this idea seems to be so accepted that no one ever tends to want to be original. I think originality is there, and I think to have strived for some sort of originality in my work, too. But the objection is what’s posed by intellectuals who think that following trends will help them survive or be original. The problem is, no one ever starts to write or create if they are intentionally biting off another idea or trend that is popular in there day and age. 

            Charles Dicken’s would have guaranteed that theory was correct, but considering that there are a few schools of thought on originality, why would people ever question it? You can quote the whole “seven main story lines” idea all day long, but many don’t have an idea of what those stories were. 

            With stories, you have archetypes. With archetypes, you have characters. There are a few essential storylines. The Flood Tale, the Creation Tale, all seem to hold the way culture and mainstream culture take hints from these storylines. A few examples, being the creation myth, is the most famous story, as the Bible details the Creation of the world in Genesis.

            What is deceptively ignorant is that most academics will try and burn that idea of “originality not existing” as they will say everyone “steals.” Inspiration is not the same as stealing. If you consider the way Warhammer studios outright steal from major fantasy writers, according to Michael Moorcock, “is outright plagiarism.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkiP64adGjY)

            Inspiration and Originality sometimes come from two different planes of existence. If Shakespeare did steal from other writers, it asserts the idea that Shakespeare was merely just polishing the way life and art can be intertwined, as real life depends on fictional techniques to help tell a story. 

            Originality, could be argued, maintains a separate life from talent. Alan Moore’s “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” which Moore borrowed from famous british characters to tell a grand tale, with characters that already existed. What makes Moore’s use of famous british characters, like Mina from Count Dracula, and even ranged to Ian Fleming’s James Bond, and Captain Nemo, from Jules Vernes Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, proves that Moore was using every available character to help tell his story. 

            Moore maintains it’s not plagiarism because “these characters are already known in the public domain” and using public domain characters, from writers that are long dead, can help create a loophole with lawyers, but also, this technique is helping create an allusion to other works.

            Some people would say “make your own characters instead of changing established lore.” Yes, making Bruce Wayne black for comics, doesn’t mean its original, but it only perpetuates a lie that changing established characters to appeal to black people, is not only a lie but its disingenuous.

            It creates the lie that you can tell the same story over and over, but there are many issues to discuss when it comes to Originality. 

            Most story tellers today would rather be less original than create there own characters. While some characters I write about, are real, I usually try and fill up a story with fictional characters to create my own universe. Say if you write about Osama Bin Laden, you could look at evidence and characteristics that are proven about Osama Bin Laden, or outright tell a fictional account of Osama Bin laden, to represent an action story, that allows more play in the narrative. 

            Originality is hard to define when narratives, like Andrej Sapkowski’s the Witcher book and television series, rips whole cloth from Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Medlibone novels, that would be best left for others to explain that more properly. Raz0rfists “The Witcher Vs. Elric: Popular Plagiarism” explains that best (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkiP64adGjY).

            What Originality proves is that many do not obey originality laws, and if plaigerism laws actually existed, Dan Brown would have been out of the publishing industry the second the Da Vinci Code was published. 

            He was sued, but proven that he did not outright copy “Holy Blood Holy Grail” which explores the idea of Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s physical relationship, as it claims. (Anyone who has read Umberto Eco’s Foucalts Pendulum, you know where the delineation of the Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code start and end.)

            It’s what people would say. “Art isn’t original.” 

            There is a degree of truth with that statement, while there are many writers who are original, like William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, Philip K. Dick, Frank Herbert, Thomas Pynchon, there are many who would opt out to believe that “Art isn’t original.” There’s originality in what each reader or viewer sees. Some see an ode to Hitchcock in Brian De Palma’s films, while Scorsese shares more in common with Fellini and the Bicycle Thief. Originality is what each person sees in it, but the lazy view of accepting things as unoriginal proves no more fatal than eating fast food instead of eating home cooked meals.             It just proves what you want to see and what you don’t want to see. If you see art in a popular television, show it’s your right to think that way. Having an opinion is a right, but an informed opinion can allow you more insight when studying a work of art.

-Louis Bruno is the author of more than 15 books, including, The Michael Project, The Michael Project: Book 2: The Lost Children of Eve, Thy Kingdom Come, The Disintegrating Bloodline, Apocalypse Soldier, Hierarchy of Dwindling Sheep. His books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu. He can be found on Gab, https://gab.com/thereallouistbruno, Minds https://www.minds.com/lbruno8063/, and Parler https://parler.com/profile/therealLouistbruno/posts. His latest, Come Home, Young One, a dark fantasy novel is out now at Lulu.com. Link is here: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/louis-bruno/come-home-young-one/hardcover/product-pw8q7z.html?page=1&pageSize=4.

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