quarta-feira, 24 de junho de 2009

History of a Quote

The graphic aspect of the quotation mark tells clearly what it's about – and I now solemnly swear this won't be an incursion through any of the very dear typographical mark's significance or history, rather a thought about influences and what we do with them –, by a simple recipe too.

Join two commas together, put them hovering on both sides of something someone said – that you'd like to denote –, and there you have it: you quote someone.
And then, – making use of my own poetic freedom and personal interpretation – it joins you and that person.

Now, warping back a few concepts.
Monkey see, monkey do, right?
We learn how to walk, talk, behave, etc., by watching, sharing, and doing the same. Mimesis is an essential move when trying to construct a self, and it is no shame either to openly show the structure, or to conceal it.
And so, communication relies on learnt or acquired abilities to process meaning, to tell you something effectively. The simple fact of recognising something establishes a psychological common ground: an ideal base of comparison, somewhere in the back of the mind. It's a natural response, and also why one would take someone who quotes Albert Einstein as (somewhat) truthful, because of those same shared values. We amount to something that always has something in common with another being.
Going with the cliché: all different, all the same. Cheap and vague as it may sound, it is true.

Keeping the concept of mimesis in mind, greek philosophers coined it as the (mere) representation of nature; a persona of the truth. Simultaneously, the quote mark becomes a symbol of paradoxally both proximity and distance – getting you closer while keeping you at the bay of non-novelty.

Everything's a copy of a copy of a copy – Chuck Palahniuk

It's our nature.

Nevertheless, the really strange phenomenon here – generally born in the spectre of social behaviour – is the one that makes imitation natural to the human being while simultaneously conditioning him to believe it is not right to do so.
Why condemn imitation, when it comes to art? We're past that. We're even past Duchamp's total appropriation of the work, and gladly.
This latter, however, poses the question of flagrant theft. Because everything is nice while it is honest – and quite the few times that's also not enough.
And, while we're at it, why should we despise self-reference as well? If someone has already said something good on a given subject, and coincidentally that someone is you, it is only right. It is never a matter of weighing ego versus true importance.

Sometimes references are insidious – rather than neon-signed blatant – and even cryptic. Like a challenge; or just shameful secrecy.
There's a plenitude of examples scattered all around, but essentially, it's our way of drafting a future while holding the legacy of our pasts and presents into account.

...and constantly reinventing ourselves.

I do think it's only healthy to transpire – obviously or not – something that makes sense but picked off of another person or referential to another thing, in whatever language you prefer to use: it will most probably help define your identity instead of meaning the loss of it.

Gladly we have been assisting to a constantly-evolving, exponentially noticeable outbreak of pure expression. This historically chained and overlapping imitation of an imitation, is – like the ouroboros biting its own tail – what's enabling us to express and evolve even further.
We imitate, and pay (never silent) homage to what or who has touched us – mainly positively – made us grow into what we are.

Thus, we are too being what we admire the most.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – Charles Caleb Colton

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