30 March 2006

Copy, Right?


Sometimes it's funny to think about this blog and how it effects what people think of me. For the longest time I assumed that no one read it (and I still really do, actually), but lately total strangers have been talking to me about it. Weird! Recently a friend asked me about the fact that sometimes I post more intimate (by which I think he really meant incriminating or embarrassing) thoughts or anecdotes on my blog than I share privately, and commented on how the same is often true in my performances. But I've also been looking over my blog posts, recently, and chuckling about how the nature of them has changed. I guess some of this sways with my mood, but at first I posted about every little thing I was or wasn't doing and now I feel like that's a bit (a) boring (b) sometimes braggish (c) generally lame....

But the end result of all of this is that it paints a weird picture of who I am and what I'm doing with my life, to invoke the eponymous question. For instance, many people out there who feel that they know me (and probably really do) have no idea that I have a very academic side. I mean, everyone knows I'm a nerd, but do you also know that I've frequently got my nose buried in the books of all kinds of hifalutin theorists? Or do you know that, at multiple times in my life, I've considered dropping everything to go to law school? It's true! Crazy!

Forgive me if I'm hitting categories A (boring) and C (lame), from above. The whole reason for this rant is that I wanted to post a note about copyright. No, not about copyright, but about copying. You see, the more I go about my life and the more theory I read, the more both experiences have pointed me to the conclusion that copying is a deep, fundamental part of who we are. As much as I try to stay clear of 'species' discourses, our compulsion to mimic (though not unique to our species) really does mark our species. I mean, before we were a chirographic (writing) culture, as Walter Ong said, we were an oral culture that survived via the repetition of stories. To further entrench bad biological metaphors, copying is part of our evolution! Blah blah blah...... all of this is to set up a bit from Aristotle's Poetics that I just re-read and found poignant. Surely it's been paraded around before and I've dilluted its solitary impact, but here it is anyway:

[T]he instinct of imitation is implanted in man from childhood, one difference between him and other animals being that he is the most imitative of living creatures, and through imitation learns his earliest lessons; and no less universal is the pleasure felt in things imitated. [....] Thus the reason why men enjoy seeing a likeness is that in contemplating it they find themselves learning or inferring, and saying perhaps, "Ah, that is he." [....] Imitation, then, is one instinct of our nature.

Actually, Poetics is full of commentary on imitation, mimesis, re-presentation, and parody. The latter, in particular, is the reason I keep re-reading it. I find that it has a lot to say not only about the rhetoric of representation, but it also offers substantial fodder for those interested in the politics of parody. Maybe I'm just projecting here, but I read Poetics as incredibly political. Tactical media peeps take note!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Theresa said...

tis true. i just emailed you out of the blue. loved your AI blog

14:16  
Blogger Pete said...

Hmm...cynical: that's so 1965...
social: it's o.k. to be cathartic...
Nor Cal: Hella busy, girl...
contemporary: try copying yourself

20:59  

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