Imitation Flattery

Day 267 Week 39 Q3 Monday, September 25, 2023

All creative people experience works created by others, which they are impressed by. To be influenced by these works is certainly a time-honored traditional approach to one’s creativity. The goal is not to be a plagiarist or a copycat but to take inspiration wherever possible. Sometimes, this means taking a piece of a sound, a sentence, or an idea and then running with it.  There’s no shame in doing this, as it only shows that you were aware of the rest of the world, not that you were a copycat, unless, of course, you don’t have any ideas of your own, and everything that you borrow is all that you have.

If you are truly a creative outlier, I do not think there’s much chance of you only being a copycat because then you would not be a creative outlier. On the other hand, you do not have to invent the entire universe by yourself. I have been told this by others numerous times. When first becoming an entrepreneur, I thought I had to reinvent accounting, and I was disabused of that notion by lots of people. When I first became a musician, I thought I had to invent my genre instead of becoming schooled in the ones that already previously existed. Eventually, I discovered I was only advertising my ignorance because I wanted to do my own thing so badly.

Eventually, realize that you can do your own thing, be aware of others, and pay homage to them. This is not a problem, but it is a right of passage because it’s difficult for people to tell if what you’re doing makes sense unless it can be referenced to something already existing. That’s why abstract painters first prove that they can paint normal scenes, and composers first prove that they can play pieces written by others.

Companies imitate products, and new inventions are often extensions of old inventions. It has been said that there are no new ideas. Sometimes, an idea gets stuck in your head, and you must play with it.  Most of the time, improvising in jazz is based upon a well-known standard song from the Great American Songbook.

People often need recognizable references to experience adequate emotional relevance to become emotionally engaged. Competitors in sports and games like tennis and chess need opponents that are enough of a challenge for both to play.

Liberally quoting musically is regarded as a skill, not an inadequacy. Sometimes, the entire social media content world appears to have only a single business model to go from freemium to premium, where it is all paid for both by advertising and by selling all of their customer’s information. Where is the creativity in that?

Is this imitation flattery or just a lack of imagination? Time will tell.