I get to study and I got to mimic and what I basically did was I stole from every person that I could steal from. I was an imitator. That's what I was. It was years before I could take all of these things that I loved about all of these different artists and put them together and find my voice.
Never imitate. The mind is an imitator, because imitation is very easy. To be someone is very difficult. To become someone is very easy - all that you need is to be a hypocrite, which is not much of a problem. Deep down you remain the same, but on the surface you go on painting yourself according to some image.
When the original is well chosen and judiciously copied, the imitator often arrives at excellence which he could never have attained without direction; for few are formed with abilities to discover new possibilities of excellence, and to distinguish themselves by means never tried before.
The way so many musicians slavishly imitated Coltrane, that's the way it was with Charlie Parker - only even more so, if that can be imagined. Everyone that I knew changed totally. But they took the worst things of his playing-that harsh sound; it just didn't come off the way they did it. The way he did it was great, Their way wasn't good at all. I just would listen to 'em, say: 'That's a Bird imitator', and that would be it; I would never care to listen to them again.
The difference between a man who faces death for the sake of an idea and an imitator who goes in search of martyrdom is that whilst the former expresses his idea most fully in death it is the strange feeling of bitterness which comes from failure that the latter really enjoys; the former rejoices in his victory, the latter in his suffering.
Without good humour, learning and bravery can only confer that superiority which swells the heart of the lion in the desert, where he roars without reply, and ravages without resistance. Without good humour virtue may awe by its dignity and amaze by its brightness, but must always be viewed at a distance, and will scarcely gain a friend or attract an imitator.
Science ... has no consideration for ultimate purposes, any more than Nature has, but just as the latter occasionally achieves things of the greatest suitableness without intending to do so, so also true science, as the imitator of nature in ideas, will occasionally and in many ways further the usefulness and welfare of man,-but also without intending to do so.
I do not know if Alice in Wonderland was an original story-I was, at least, no conscious imitator in writing it-but I do know that, since it came out, something like a dozen story-books have appeared, on identically the same pattern. The path I timidly explored believing myself to be 'the first that ever burst into that silent sea'-is now a beaten high-road: all the way-side flowers have long ago been trampled into the dust: and it would be courting disaster for me to attempt that style again.
Don't be imitators. The mind is an imitator, because it is easier to play the game of imitation than to become authentically true. Many ideas have been given to you: become like a Buddha, become like Jesus. become like Krishna - as if you have to become everybody else EXCEPT yourself. As if God is only against you. He's for Krishna, for Christ, for Mahavir, for Buddha - only against you. Then why does He create you? Then He seems simply foolish. Why does He go on creating you? If He's interested in Buddha, Hc can create Buddhas. Why you?
Only Zorbas become Buddhas - and Buddha was never a monk, A monk is one who has never been a Zorba and has become enchanted by the words of Buddhas. A monk is an imitator, he is false, pseudo. He imitates Buddhas. He may be Christian, he may be Buddhist, he may be a Hindu - that doesn't make much difference - but he imitates Buddhas.
Tremble with awe, O men! The insults God suffered for the sake of our salvation you too must endure! God is slapped on the face by the basest of slaves (Jn. 18:22). He gives you an example of victory, yet do you refuse to undergo this at the hands of a man of like passions as yourself? You are ashamed of becoming an imitator of God (Eph. 5:1), how then will you reign with Him and share in His glory in the kingdom of heaven if you do not endure that man?
Symeon the New Theologian
The Christian who desires to follow Jesus carrying his cross must bear in mind that the name "Christian" means "learner or imitator of Christ" and that if he wishes to bear that noble title worthily he must above all do as Christ charges us in the Gospel: We must oppose or deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow him.
Anthony Mary Claret
I'm not a star. I'll never be a Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley or a Ray Charles. I'm just an imitator, man. I'm doing a very bad imitation on the bass of Jerry Jemmott, Bernard Odum, Jimmy Fielder, Jimmy Blanton, Igor Stravinsky, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, James Brown, Charlie Parker... the cats, man. I'm just backing up the cats.
YEAH CATS I KNOW ARE FEELING JUST LIKE THE RAPTURE AND I CAN TELL WHO THIS MOOD IS FAILING TO CAPTURE IT'S LIKE SOMEBODY FINALLY DID LIGHT THAT MATCH UP AND BURN DOWN THE PARLIAMENT, LEARNED FROM THE ARGUMENT CAN'T BE NON-PARTISAN, WHEN YOU'RE AN ARTIST AND YOU PUT YOUR HEART IN IT, AND THAT'S NOT EVEN THE HALF OF IT LIKE MY MAN SAID, WE'RE TALKING BUTTER AND BREAD BETTER IF HIS WORDS WERE NEVER UTTERED AGAIN MOSTLY VINDICTIVE, WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED JUST A FEW TAX BREAKS TO KEEP US ALL ADDICTED THE DICKHEAD DICTATOR, LEADER, IMITATOR MADE ME FEEL IMMATURE WHEN I SAID 'I HATE YA' DID YOU READ THE PAPER THE DAY AFTER AND HEAR THE LAUGHTER? I'LL READ IT TO YOU, IT STARTS WITH M MCKEW AND ENDS WITH YOU NO BROADER VIEW FROM THE PEOPLE ON YOUR SHIP THAT YOU USED TO CALL CREW HUH! THAT'S TYPICAL, NOW I GUESS IT'S DIFFICULT FOR THE TYPE OF PERSON WHO ONLY THINKS OF INDIVIDUAL NO RESIDUAL, YOU'LL SEE OUR RESILIENCE TAKE YOUR BAT AND BALL AND HEAD FOR THE PAVILION.
He began as a minor imitator of Fitzgerald, wrote a novel in the late twenties which won a prize, became dissatisfied with his work, stopped writing for a period of years. When he came back it was to BLACK MASK and the other detective magazines with a curious and terrible fiction which had never been seen before in the genre markets; Hart Crane and certainly Hemingway were writing of people on the edge of their emotions and their possibility but the genre mystery markets were filled with characters whose pain was circumstantial, whose resolution was through action; Woolrich's gallery was of those so damaged that their lives could only be seen as vast anticlimax to central and terrible events which had occurred long before the incidents of the story. Hammett and his great disciple, Chandler, had verged toward this more than a little, there is no minimizing the depth of their contribution to the mystery and to literature but Hammett and Chandler were still working within the devices of their category: detectives confronted problems and solved (or more commonly failed to solve) them, evil was generalized but had at least specific manifestations: Woolrich went far out on the edge. His characters killed, were killed, witnessed murder, attempted to solve it but the events were peripheral to the central circumstances. What I am trying to say, perhaps, is that Hammett and Chandler wrote of death but the novels and short stories of Woolrich were death. In all of its delicacy and grace, its fragile beauty as well as its finality. Most of his plots made no objective sense. Woolrich was writing at the cutting edge of his time. Twenty years later his vision would attract a Truffaut whose own influences had been the philosophy of Sartre, the French nouvelle vague, the central conception that nothing really mattered. At all. But the suffering. Ah, that mattered; that mattered quite a bit.
Barry N. Malzberg