The Imitator Or The Imitated: Does Life Imitate Art Or Does Art Imitate Life?
Anti-mimesis, a philosophical position that holds the direct opposite of Aristotelian mimesis, the concept of art imitating life, believes that life imitates art, that creative inspiration arises, not from life as we know it on the surface-level, but from something deeper…
As in Oscar Wilde’s 1889 essay, The Decay of Lying,
“Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.”
Holding the potential for much debate, as in the question of, ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’, and, ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’, really, the statement can be interpreted in several ways, none of which can be strictly proven, but all of which hold merit in the eye of the beholder.
Now, upon considering for myself whether life does indeed ‘imitate’ art as Oscar Wilde states, I ask myself the following;
‘Where does creative inspiration come from?’
Does the inspiration to create come from external means, from my experiences of the world, or does it come from somewhere deeper than that, internally, from in my subconscious mind, perhaps, the state I enter when meditating- pure consciousness in which thoughts freely come and go, despite me not thinking, despite my mind being ‘blank’?…
One of my favourite facts of all time is that Stevie Nicks wrote one of Fleetwood Mac’s most famous tunes, ‘Dreams’, in just ten minutes.
I say this is one of my favourite facts because it perfectly encapsulates how ‘other worldly’ creativity really is. People spend their whole lives trying to ‘make it’ with their art, and yet, Stevie Nicks managed to produce something which is so universally appreciated, (and Fleetwood Mac’s first, and only, US number one hit- their most successful single of all time), in just ten minutes?!
I have no doubt that Stevie, like most artists, has spent days, weeks, months even, writing other songs, so what ‘hit her’ in that moment when she was writing Dreams, for it all to just come to her so suddenly?
It amazes me because I’ve experienced it myself in my own writing. I can spend days in a ‘brain fog’ with no inspiration of anything to write about, sit down the next day and write a poem, or an article, on something that hadn’t even crossed my mind prior to picking up my pen. So, again, where does such inspiration come from?… Because, from my perspective, it must come from somewhere deeper than my conscious mind, for, if it was in my conscious mind, then I would’ve written the poem or the article when I sat down to write days ago. But, I didn’t, because it wasn’t there then. It just came to me via an unpredictable stream of consciousness…
When things do come to me though, what do I write about?
(thus supporting Aristotelian mimesis of art imitating life)…
Creative Inspiration From Life:
‘Art imitates life.’
A testimony of the human condition, writing poetry is both my way of making sense of the world, and my way of helping other people to make sense of my world, as I reflect and amplify certain aspects of the human experience. With the capacity to encompass all of our hardships, emotions, questions, decisions, perceptions-
love, hatred, life, death-
essentially every way in which we perceive our world, art allows for a ‘deep-dive’ exploration into every aspect of humanity.
A form of communication, a means of expression, a way to challenge societal norms, a source of beauty and inspiration, art is, ultimately, our way to create meaning in a world which we don’t, can’t, understand…
LIFE= The ongoing experiencing and expression of creative inspiration through art
In what way does ‘life imitate art’ then, as the anti-mimesis position states?
Art affects the way we look at the world around us, i.e., Our perception of life is changed by art.
As Wilde puts it in The Decay of Lying,
“Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the arts that have influenced us.”
If you consider films, which are a type of art, we see fashion, for example, in films becoming ‘trendy’ in real life, the art we see on our screens having an influence on the way we show up in the world. And music, too. Keeping on the theme of Fleetwood Mac, the song ‘Albatross’ to me is what heaven would sound like. An odd thing to say, I know but, for a song without any words, solely instrumental, it transports me somewhere else, so much so that, after listening to Albatross, I feel more able to appreciate the beauty of the world around me, when perhaps I hadn’t been able to do before…
To say that Albatross imitates life is nonsensical because, it has no words, so what would it be trying to imitate? It is life which imitates art when, after hearing the song, I go for a walk and appreciate birdsong and the feel of the wind against my face, things that I would’ve otherwise overlooked. And, reading certain poems can have this effect, too. A poem that immediately springs to mind being Wendy Cope’s ‘The Orange’-
Creative Inspiration From Art:
‘Life imitates art.’
By effecting the way we look at the world around us, our perception of life is changed by art.
‘Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the arts that have influenced us.’Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying.
This (^) is how life imitates art…
Or, perhaps more accurately, how life imitates our mindset, for, art really is all about invoking emotion in the observer, emotions which can inspire us to live our lives differently, to appreciate things more, to not overlook the little things that we otherwise would’ve done.
As we know to be true based on the power of manifestation;
‘What we think we become.’
If we think positively, we’re more likely to have a positive day, this being a basic rule that underpins the phenomena of ‘the law of attraction’ in which we are all encouraged to ‘be the energy we want to attract…’
Because one of arts main purposes is to invoke emotion, it is inevitable that, in invoking emotion, art is going to directly contribute to a shift in our mindset, which, as we know, life imitates. So, in this way art can be said to be the first step to achieving a mindset shift which subsequently goes on to see a life shift, since our life reflects our inner world- painted by our thoughts, feelings, intentions and aspirations.
You create your reality through your thoughts and you are being created and transformed in the process. But, where do your thoughts come from?
Though, perhaps more to the point, where does art come from?
What is art?
Are the trees art?
Is the galaxy art?
is literally everything not art?
If you answer ‘yes’, then life undoubtedly does imitate art, for the trees and the galaxy and the stars, all the ‘in built’ beauty of the world has been around far longer than any human being who could’ve made art has been…
From a spiritual perspective…
Life is the artwork of the ‘creator’/higher power, and our lives are all pieces of that creation. The art that we humans create imitates the lives we live/our perspective/how we see life.
Life isn’t imitating art because life IS art…
“I think everything in life is art. What you do. How you dress. The way you love someone, and how you talk. Your smile and your personality. What you believe in, and all your dreams. The way you drink your tea. How you decorate your home. Or party. Your grocery list. The food you make. How your writing looks. And the way you feel. Life is art.”Helena Bonham Carter
Everything in life is art because art is not confined to galleries or studios, but permeates every aspect of our existence. From the way we perceive the world, to the way we interact with others, to the choices we make, art is an inherent part of our human experience, reflecting our creativity, emotions, and individuality.
Art is both fact and metaphor
Life itself is art.
The sun and the trees and the galaxy, all the things that were on earth long before you were, is art.
Creation in the truest sense of the word, art in its purest form…
But, as the creators, we also make art to explore the human condition through metaphors. Because, whilst we know that trees exist, we don’t know why they exist. Just as we don’t know why we exist, hence the recurring question we all find ourselves asking;
‘Why are we here?‘
Art helps us to find a ‘why’ to the otherwise incomprehensible… Just look at religion, for example (which, by the way is a form of art itself), with the bible essentially being a novel, the concept of ‘God’ a metaphor, yet something that we take as fact…
Because the complexities of our existence are far too big for the human mind to ever understand, we try to personify creation by creating what is simply a metaphor to describe it- the concept of a higher power/the universe personified as ‘God…’ But, people forget that it’s a metaphor and take it is a given, genuinely being of the belief that there is a man in the sky who will send us to either heaven or hell depending on how we behave in life. Really, this is just a metaphor pointing to the fact that there is something (not someone) out there that is far bigger than us, a higher power, serving to further reinforce the fact that we, as human beings, are responsible for bringing it (consciousness) to life…
The imitator or the imitated?
So, it can be concluded then that; life neither imitates art nor does art imitate life.
There is no imitation
for, you can’t imitate that which you already are…