Most people have some kind of philosophy they subscribe to. A philosophy which rules each and every moment, action, and behaviour an individual conducts. Maybe the worst of these philosophies to put my thoughts into context is, “No Regrets”. Living without regrets is a principle that guides the general behaviour of many individuals. Ironically, some people regretfully have it permanently inked onto their bodies. This philosophy is not one I could count as one which guides the way in which I live my life. Reason being it is far too common and it really did not resonate with me as with many common philosophies similar to it. I believe regret and disappointment can be a good thing as long as they evolve into lesson. Ultimately, regret is not something one can remove in its entirety from their life. Until recently, I did not have a philosophy I could call my own. A philosophy which I could live my life by. A couple of months ago during one of my mostly futile excursions on the world wide web I discovered the following quote by Jim Jarmusch.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
The quote, as Jarmursch put it, ‘spoke directly to my soul’. So much so that I decided to use it as the title of my personal blog. I even decided to theme my first entry around the meaning is hold for me. The first bit that resonated with me was the statement that nothing is original. This was not something that was new to me being an account of something that I believed to be truth for a long time. Originality is something which I’ve always grappled with internally. This internal battle actually stifled my expression and development. From the pieces of clothing I wore, the music I listened to and even the things and the way in which I thought; it was always a question of ‘Is this really me?’. There was always that lingering thought which asked whether what I was doing or being was original and I guess it all comes down to the universal human conundrum — Who Am I? Things got especially interesting in high school when my environment, experiences, and emotions found the subculture that was called emo speaking directly to my soul through music and song. I have no regret at all in admitting that I was very much a part of this subculture. To a certain extent that’s where my hair became a key form of expressing myself. But, what was initially an internal battle now had its external antagonists as emo wasn’t a very black person thing to do. These antagonists made my battle with defining self all the more confusing, but it never changed my exploration of the emo subculture as I’d go on the consume the role fully; painting my nails black, wearing eyeliner, and even starting a band.
“All these city streets the people look the same”
The above qoute is from a song called “Your Sword Versus My Dagger” by Silverstein which introduced me to emo. Michael — one of my closest friends — found Silverstein on limewire and the band and their music played a large role in ensuing teen years. What was most significant was that the album was called Discovering The Waterfront, and Michael only discovered the band after doing a limewire search on ‘The Waterfront’. The Waterfront was the mall we spent most of our teen years learning how to smoke and drink and most of the things we maybe shouldn’t have done — No regrets. lol. Before things get to soppy and personal let me pull it back to what this entry was initially about. In a city where all the people looked the same, emo offered up something different. Something which for whatever reasons resonated with my soul. Something I could belong to. Emo wasn’t an original idea but it was something which I stole authentically. Ultimately, self is a collage of DNA and everything I have ever experienced, processed, and perceived. My experience of emo was genuine, which is something which is hard to come by in the digital age where we have more access to information than society has ever had in it’s history. “The internet generation has yet to birth a genuine subculture – the last clearly defined youth group being the ’00s Emo craze, which came of age when social media was still in its infancy. It’s hard to imagine a genuine new subculture emerging when the youth of today has access to everything at once – processing a whole kaleidoscope of music, fashion and art simultaneously, unlimited by borders or languages. One can envision a world where subcultures exist only as vague, ever-shifting parodies of genuine youth movements – ones that are temporarily flirted with, not wholly dedicated to.” I stole the above from an article I recently read over at Highsnobeity. I had this blog post in the draft folder for a few months and the article I read at Highsnobeity about Normcore and the future of youth culture would fuel the flame which allowed me to pull this out the draft folder to complete and publish. The parallels between my post and the article at Highsnobeity are obvious. Jim Jarmusch states a problem — Nothing is original. However, he continues to offer a solution to the problem — Stealing from that which resonates with your soul. Don’t let your stolen ideas, experiences, art, and thoughts be a vague, ever-shifting parody. Don’t flirt with your influences. Dedicate yourself to breaking through their surface to discover the places within those influences where your soul feels overwhelmed by the “memory of an act never experienced”. Only then will your juxtaposition of human experience be authentic. Never original. “Originality is the art of concealing your sources” and “only those with no memory insist on their originality”.