“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.'” – Jim Jarmusch
What Jarmusch is saying here is not “take other peoples work and pretend it’s yours.”
He’s saying that there is NO idea that is completely and totally original: that NOONE has ever thought of before. Even if only subconsciously, there are other influences besides just “…it just came to me and I worked everything out on my own”.
Maybe it came to you because you saw something, read something, watched something, felt something, heard something…
As I point out quite clearly in my semi-recent post on the subject, there’s a difference between “homage” (which is what Jarmusch is referring to) and NOT homage.
‘In The Mouth Of Madness’ DIRECTLY takes ideas from H.P. Lovecraft; even quotes his stories verbatim at times. But it EXPANDS on those ideas, it uses them as inspiration, as the origin of a much broader and greater (and authentic) work.
L.F. Dibley…does not.
Every comic has comedians that “influenced” them. So does every writer, every painter, every critic…
“…Comedians borrowed, stole stuff, and even bought bits from one another. Milton Berle and Robin Williams were famous for it. This was different…”
The thing is to BE inspired…to have that inspiration be AUTHENTIC; something that touches you, not something you think is “commercial” or anything else. To be open to that inspiration, to accept it, and to not be ashamed of it – since every artist, to one extent or another, consciously or subconsciously, is using at least one small part of one idea that someone else already thought of.
And then to TAKE that inspiration, and with it, and your own ideas, create something new that is worthwhile; that pleases you artistically and enhances the world in doing so.
Be inspired not greedy.
Be authentic; because you can’t be “original”.
To claim a SPECIFIC work as your own is fine.
To claim an IDEA as your own, that noone else can draw from, be inspired by…is against the very nature of art itself. It’s corporate…and quite frankly if artists get to the point where they’re like corporations (“You can’t use X phrase because I copyrighted it”), that will be a sad day for artists…and the world in general, since it will destroy creativity.
Don’t be fascist about freedom of expression.