Religion is not an imitation of Jesus or Mohammed. Even if an imitation is good, it is never genuine. Be not an imitation of Jesus, but be Jesus, You are quite as great as Jesus, Buddha, or anybody else. If we are not ... we must struggle and be. I would not be exactly like Jesus. It is unnecessary that I should be born a Jew.
Imitation is very easy, and the whole culture and society depends on imitation. Everybody is telling you how to behave, and whatsoever they are teaching you is nothing but imitation. Religious people - the so-called religious people, the priests, the theologians - they are also teaching you, 'Be like Jesus, be like Buddha, be like Krishna.' Nobody ever tells you, 'Just be yourself' - nobody. Everybody is against you, it seems. Nobody allows you to be yourself, nobody gives you any freedom. You can be in this world, but you must imitate somebody.
The truth is that, just as in the other imitative arts one imitation is always of one thing, so in poetry the story, as an imitation of action, must represent one action, a complete whole, with its several incidents so closely connected that the transposal or withdrawal of any one of them will disjoin and dislocate the whole. For that which makes no perceptible difference by its presence or absence is no real part of the whole.
It is certainly true that imitation is everywhere, from sport to business, from dancing to dressing, from driving to singing. In fact, imitation is at the heart of competitive behavior and of almost any kind of social interaction. Like the fixed cost cum marginal cost argument that, as we pointed out earlier, is so powerful an argument that it can be applied to any and every thing, imitation is so widespread that, when taken literally, it is also everywhere. By this token one should see unpriced externalities in every market where producers imitate each other, thereby concluding that all kinds of economic activities should be allowed some form of monopoly power. Restaurants imitate each other, as coffee shops, athletes, real estate agents, car salesmen, and even bricklayers do, but we would certainly find it foolhardy to grant to a firm in each of these businesses monopoly power over one technique or another. This suggests that equating imitation with unpriced externalities leads us into a dark night in which all cows are gray.
As not every instance of similitude can be considered as a proof of imitation, so not every imitation ought to be stigmatised as plagiarism. The adoption of a noble sentiment, or the insertion of a borrowed ornament, may sometimes display so much judgment as will almost compensate for invention; and an inferior genius may, without any imputation of servility, pursue the paths of the ancients, provided he declines to tread in their footsteps.
The characteristic of the first sort of religion is imitation. It insists on imitation: imitate Buddha, imitate Christ, imitate Mahavir, but imitate. Imitate somebody. Don't be yourself, be somebody else. And if you are very stubborn you can force yourself to be somebody else. You will never be somebody else. Deep down you cannot be. You will remain yourself, but you can force so much that you almost start looking like somebody else.
If music in general is an imitation of history, opera in particular is an imitation of human willfulness; it is rooted in the fact that we not only have feelings but insist upon having them at whatever cost to ourselves. The quality common to all the great operatic roles, e.g., Don Giovanni, Norma, Lucia, Tristan, Isolde, Br?nnhilde, is that each of them is a passionate and willful state of being. In real life they would all be bores, even Don Giovanni.
W. H. Auden
Imitation both unconscious and conscious is par excellence the educational method of the family. It is plain that a considerable part of the adaptation of living beings to their environment, i.e., of beings that are born plastic, is passed on from generation to generation through imitation. Were this not so, much if not all of the road traversed by one generation would have to be travelled by the next generation from the very beginning and without short-cuts. Consequently there would be little chance for the novel adaptation, the propitious individual variation, that constitutes progress.
Elsie Clews Parsons
The heavenly bodies are nothing but a continuous song for several voices (perceived by the intellect, not by the ear); a music which... sets landmarks in the immeasurable flow of time. It is therefore, no longer surprising that man, in imitation of his creator, has at last discovered the art of figured song, which was unknown to the ancients. Man wanted to reproduce the continuity of cosmic time... to obtain a sample test of the delight of the Divine Creator in His works, and to partake of his joy by making music in the imitation of God.
Although the view that, once discovered, ideas can be imitated for free by anybody is pervasive, it is far from the truth. While it may occasionally be the case that an idea is acquired at no cost-ideas are generally difficult to communicate, and the resources for doing so are limited. It is rather ironic that a group of economists, who are also college professors and earn a substantial living teaching old ideas because their transmission is neither simple nor cheap, would argue otherwise in their scientific work. Most of the times imitation requires effort and, what is more important, imitation requires purchasing either some products or some teaching services from the original innovator, meaning that most spillovers are priced.
As a result of his experiments he concluded that imitation was a real evil that had to be broken before real rhetoric teaching could begin. This imitation seemed to be an external compulsion. Little children didn't have it. It seemed to come later on, possibly as a result of school itself. That sounded right, and the more he thought about it the more right it sounded. Schools teach you to imitate. If you don't imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A's. Originality on the other hand could get you anything - from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.
Robert M. Pirsig
From her handbag she takes a round gilt compact with violets on the cover. She opens it, unclosing her other self, and runs her fingertip around the corners of her mouth, left one, right one; then she unswivels a pink stick and dots her cheeks and blends them, changing her shape, performing the only magic left to her. Rump on a packsack, harem cushion, pink on the cheeks and black discreetly around the eyes, as red as blood as black as ebony, a seamed and folded imitation of a magazine picture that is itself an imitation of a woman who is also an imitation, the original nowhere, hairless lobed angel in the same heaven where God is a circle, captive princess in someone's head. She is locked in, she isn't allowed to eat or shit or cry or give birth, nothing goes in, nothing comes out. She takes her clothes off or puts them on, paper doll wardrobe, she copulates under strobe lights with the man's torso while his brain watches from its glassed-in control cubicle at the other end of the room, her face twists into poses of exultation and total abandonment, that is all. She is not bored, she has no other interests.