Saturday, September 12, 2009

Creation and Property

Nobody can own music.
Nobody can own a sound.
You can make music, you can make a sound, but you can’t keep it in bondage.
It’s like a child. You may birth it, name it Rainbow and raise it on organic vegetable matter and Dalai Llama quotes excerpted from coffee table novelty books, but when it turns 18, if it wants to ride in red sports cars with gangstas and shake its ass in a skin tight mini skirts made of genuine baby white tiger skin, then that’s just what it will do.
The things which accumulated in you and resulted in "the song" were not unique to you, they came from elsewhere.
For example, your siblings also feel the angst that remains from your father’s drunken abuse, and your love of wild flowers is shared with scores of green peace enthusiast, hippies and botanist. That chord arrangement is only slightly different from others, and probably is identical to an arrangement featured in a polka song written by an accordion player that lives with his mother in Michigan and works as a used car salesman by day. The only thing distinguishing your arrangement from his is that the rhythm is different and yours is strummed on an acoustic guitar rather than keyed on an accordion and you have an audience and got a record deal while he suffers from loneliness due to his pig nosed face.
The very idea that creative material should be owned is an uncreative idea. It is an idea that says: “Now I have made this and no one else can make anything else like it or from it or I’ll sue their ass for copyright infringement”
Creativity is using anything and everything and making something new from it, something slightly different or unrecognizably different. Kudos to anyone that can take part of a song about love and peace and turn it into a song about hate and violence. That is called being creative. No one comes up with anything brand new and all their own.
We are all composites of the many different influences which converge within us and our ideas and creations stem from this composite creation that we call self. We do not know the nature of our self, and not knowing our self, how could we ever presume to possess it, let alone those composite spores that it spews into the ether in the form of poetry, song, or sculpture.
This self is on loan. We borrow it for a while, taking it for a spin before it evaporates. These impressions shaping our creative impulses, are viewed through the borrowed lens of self. They did not originate within us. The color of the sky was present long before we were and the birds were singing about it long before we started writing about them singing about it. The thing which made the song was not yours, the things that the song is made up of is not yours, those things that inspired its making are not yours, how could the song itself be yours?
Nothing is new under the sun. There are no original ideas. Your ideas come from others. From the sound of your mother’s voice when you were twelve, from your father’s old car, from the lake you nearly drowned in, from the song that played on the radio when you first kissed, from the way she screamed when she left, from the theme of that cartoon you watched when you were four, and the song your grandmother hummed when you were 13 months old.
There are things at work within you which you are not even aware of. That song you wrote may very well be an approximation of something you heard when you were a child or in the elevator three months ago. That you were unaware of its influence on you does not make the resulting song original. It came from somewhere.
To be creative is to see what there is to work with and work with it in any way possible. To steal, to borrow, to reuse and cause mutations, that is creative. To forge something new of what was is God-like, opening up infinite possibilities. To spend one’s life obsessed about protecting a small blot of intellectual material is limiting and can only lead to decay, to the end of possibilities.
Creativity is brave. To be a true creator is to scatter creations like droplets of water from the trembling wings of a heron. You do not take time to count the droplets, or to try to catch them before they can dance off of the wings of another.
If someone takes what you have made and does something new with it, that is a compliment. If you were focused on creation and not ownership, you would be unafraid to loose the drops of water that scatter from your wings, you would know that soon you will dip into the waters of life in search of the wriggling fish and new things will scatter from you as you part with the water again and ascend with your catch. This can happen again and again if you are active and not busy catching and adoring the product of dives into the deep that occurred once long ago.
When you create, you are in the present. What you created, that is already in the past. Dead and gone. If you are interested in ownership, sue the earth itself. For that is where you came from and that is where you’re going.

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Blogger Kevin Seal said...

I agree. This sounds angry, though -- why the anger?

Residents of the US tend to focus on the product rather than the process, which is why the US has such a constipated artistic community. That's also why most of us Yankees don't consider ourselves to have artistic talent.

You're familiar with the groundbreaking work on Lawrence Lessig, I presume?

1:03 AM  
Blogger Kallisti said...

Well... as far as the anger goes, it's not called MAD dog magick for nothing! ;)

10:25 AM  

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