Individualism is the view that each person has moral significance and individual rights that are either of divine origin or inherent in human nature. Each individual exists, perceives, experiences, thinks, and acts in and through his own body and, therefore, from unique points in time and space. It is the individual who has the capacity for original and creative rationality. Individuals can interrelate, but thinking requires a specific, unique thinker.
The individualist assumes responsibility for thinking for himself, for acting on his thought, and for achieving his happiness. It, however, is foolish to believe that every action or thought that any individual may make comes from a place of uniqueness and individuality. Jonathan Lethem’s ‘The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism’ explains how it is pointless to avoid imitation because the incorporation of others’ ideas and sharing concepts can create a better version of the intended product.
Barbara Fredrickson’s ‘Love 2.0’ introduces a new biological approach to love, claiming that it fosters a better understanding of the subject by clarifying any misunderstandings to help people conform to the views of the majority population. Andrew Solomon’s ‘Son’ complicates the relationship between Lethem and Fredrickson by presenting that their differences shape individuals and that these unique characteristics contribute to their interaction with culture. There is this primal need for uniqueness that people tend to strive for, which at times inhibits a person’s genuine desire.
It is only when we let go of our ‘unique self’ that we can enjoy the beauty of life, love, art, etc. When the worry of needing to be different or everything needing to be a complete original that we can enjoy the world for what it is, similar or not. It is more beneficial when each individual holding different responsibilities/ personality work collaboratively to produce one excellent product, rather than each trying to bring their idea to life resulting in several unfinished pieces. When individuality is our sole focus, we become self- obsessed and hoard our thoughts, leaving no room for others’ creative input to improve ourselves.
Nevertheless, when a touch of individuality is added to conformity, an ideal balance is made, allowing everyone to develop and improve outcomes in a very uniform manner. The love that humans have dwelled upon for generations is the reason nothing we produce up to this day is original, just reworked and reused. Lethem illustrates that when one artist uses some concepts from another piece of art, they’re showing how much influence the piece has had on them and incorporating these ideas in their new creation, which could be a variety of appreciation instead of plagiarism.
Including the gathering of other artists’ ideas together with the artist’s latest thoughts, they’ll assemble a brand new piece of art free to be another source of inspiration. Lethem further explains that ‘inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced. The invention,…does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos.’ (Lethem 214) Lethem refers to the concept of inspiration being inhaled because the act of breathing is unconscious, uncontrollable, and unstoppable; similarly, motivation can not be controlled and is inevitable.
Lethem then describes how an invention can not be created out of the void, but instead must be created from the chaos of our mind, and also the insight that we already possess, stored in an unorganized and cluttered way. It’s from this mess that our ideas stem from it. Thus, the fusion of meticulous selection of styles from different works and your individual thoughts broadcast your conformed individuality, because the original and borrowed elements simultaneously created a replacement product.
Solomon’s journey, there were times when he had to let go of his individuality to relate more to the people around him, and times he held onto his uniqueness to join a shared struggle. This combination of conformity and individuality defines the role of a human in this vast world. Fredrickson goes further in-depth with Solomon’s idea and describes how people regularly change their behavior to match that of others. She says, ‘as you interact with one person after another, they gently nudge you to attend to those others more closely and forge connections when possible.
They shape your motives and behaviors in subtle ways, yet immediately, their actions serve to strengthen your relationships and knit you closer to the social fabric of life.’ (Fredrickson 110) Meaning that when your share commonalities in a relationship, you further modify your behavior to match that of your partner, making it easier for you to conform to reduce the importance you place on your uniqueness. When ‘you interact with one person after another,’ you share more resemblances with multiple groups allowing you to work better with any individual and harmonizing others with your behavior. Ultimately, prior differences can soon turn into similarities allowing the communications between various individuals to be at more ease and reducing the importance placed upon one’s individuality.
Similar to how other artists influence artists within the process of making their artwork, humans are also influenced by the attitudes and characteristics of people within the process of developing their personality. A person’s identity isn’t defined as soon as they’re born; it’s designed with time and gained experiences from people. Similarly, the character of a bit of art is transformed supported the artist’s exposure to different works of art. Solomon explains how ‘attributes and values are passed down from parent to child…not only through strands of DNA but also through shared cultural norms.’ (Solomon 370)
This describes how children acquire certain traits from their parents and choose other characteristics from the those who inspire them and mix it together to represent who they’re. Children favor to hold on to particular aspects of their individuality and opt to sacrifice others to adopt others’ valuable characteristics to shape who they’re. One person can’t be an actual copy of another because every person builds their character from the influence of multiple people; however, in the end, create something new. similar to how humans undergo this process, ‘most artists are converted to art by art itself.’ (Lethem 214)
When artists are inspired by another piece of art, they include some elements of it to their work, how people add qualities that they admire in others to their personality. Although representing an individual or an artwork’s individuality is vital, it can’t steer clear of the help of pre-existing influences and attributes that surround us. Everyone must make use of the resources that are already present and manipulate them in an exceedingly way, which will display your individuality in an exceedingly subtle manner that’s not overpowering the first goal of blending in.
Every bit of art is traced back to the work that it had been influenced by. Each individual also shares resemblances with others in their community; however, since no two pieces of art nor two individuals are exact copies of every other, they each hold their uniqueness, achieving the goal of conforming to embody the culture around us with faint hints of extravagance. Originality and individuality is an integral part of everyone and everything, however, that specialize in this uniqueness over embracing shared similarities between people will cause more harm than benefit.