Saturday, November 12, 2011

Breakdown of Hierarchy

After discussion in class, I began to think more about the idea of hierarchies in terms of creative liberties: who has the agency to borrow, blend, and create ideas without causing offense. In all creative mediums, whether it be literature, art, film, or music, it is impossible not to draw on the outside world and the creativity of others in the process of creation, as we live in an innovative world, full of inspiration based on the synthesis of an already fairly determined world. Because so many creative claims have staked and set in history, the use of hierarchies is arguably necessary, if even at an unspoken level, to keep a balance and understanding in what is permissible. However, I wonder if hierarchies are really attainable in our world of hybrid texts, blogs, and a very collage-thinking approach to creation. This is a particularly hot question in the music industry with copyright laws being broken and bent every day.

In literature, copyrights and publications do directly set a hierarchy of which texts are deemed worth reading by publishers. Indirectly though, there is a cultural understanding that written texts are open for interpretation and these interpretations will often lead to the creation of a new text. In the world of academia, citations and works cited pages largely account for the appreciation of ideas. We all seem to have found our place in the ideallic hierarchy, anywhere from the prize-winning novelist to professor to the muddling English major. But these hierarchies are often blended and are hard to maintain.

I like to think that we live in a very "meta-world," in which we are hyperaware of the past and cultivate creativity in literature based on the richly inspirational world around us. This goes along with Mitchell's Metapictures that deals with the self-awareness of art that is built on the fact that a history of art theory has already been established and therefore can be made complex. Mitchell sets up the clear distinctions: painting, painter, model, and beholder (58), but these roles are far from stable as the audience is encouraged to take on all the roles. Mitchell offers Velazquez's Las Meninas as the prime example as he writes, "The formal structure of Las Meninas is an encyclopedic labyrinth of pictorial self-reference, representing the interplay between the beholder, the producer, and the object or model of representation as a complex cycle of exchanges and substitutions"(58). Mitchell's description of the metapicture parallels really well the state of the music industry today and how the hierarchy is breaking down in terms of who is creating, who has authority, and where audience innovation fits into all of this.

In Good Copy Bad Copy, speakers from many facets of the music industry speak out about the need to protect artists and their creative property, but there is a breakdown occurring in the hierarchy as the Internet and technology is making music available to anyone with a computer. My question, then, is if there is a possibility to hold on to a creative hierarchy in the environment we operate in today. Are only certain people able to create based on outside influence or should this be more of an unspoken understanding? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Annie,

    I think you've raised a couple of very interesting questions here. First, I would argue against your assertion that "the use of hierarchies is arguably necessary." Miller has stated that our urge to categorize is inherently human, but I wonder if categorization could occur without hierarchization. I.e., can we have difference without hierarchy? As Derrida notes, differance necessarily creates hierarchy, but I am interested in whether or not is would be possible to separate difference from differance, to conceptualize non-hierarchical, benign difference?

    The 'meta-world' in which we live provides the perfect space to deconstruct the creative hierarchies you write about, with its emphasis on multiple perspectives and questioning of authority (an effect, I think, of the postmodern critique of colonialism). So, to answer one of your questions, I think that we shouldn't try to hold on to the creative hierarchy that is organically breaking down under the conditions of postmodernism.


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