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The Art Class - A Parable of Sorts


Takuma Nuva

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Once upon a time, as such a time is when these things often occur, there was an art class. A bunch of students were taking the course. Some of the students prefer working in pen. Other students prefer working in pencil. Every day when the students take to their easels they find a fresh piece of paper. However, the teacher has drawn a few shapes and lines on the paper in the respective ink or graphite. The teacher tells the students they will be graded on their individuality.

 

For quite some time, all the students are content and consistently received excellent grades. Those who worked with pencil would often find themselves erasing some or even all of the pre-drawn bits to fit their artwork. Those who worked with pen could not erase anything, but they enjoyed the technical aspect of incorporating the pre-drawn bits into their final piece. Everybody had fun comparing art and seeing how each individual expressed themselves through their work.

 

However, as the semester went on, things began to change. Every day, the teacher added more and more shapes and lines to the paper. Those students who worked with pencil simply did more erasing in order to make expressive art and maintain a grade. On the other hand, the students who worked in pen watched as their grades began to plummet. Every time more lines were added they found it more difficult to make the pieces personal to themselves. In fact, an increasing number of pieces from different students began to look almost exactly alike.

 

One day, with the semester almost over, the students came in, sat down before their easels, and beheld what awaited them. Every easel had a piece of paper with an intricate drawing of a sailboat, a lighthouse, and a rocky beach. The only things missing were the lighthouse's roof and part of the sailboat's mast. The pencil-using students got right to work erasing everything they didn't want to work with. The students who used pen, however, were dumbfounded. One of them stood up and got the teacher's attention.

 

"Yes?" asked the teacher. "What seems to be the problem?"

 

"The problem is what you're making us work with," the student said. "You've been making it harder and harder for us to make our artwork unique to ourselves by continually adding more to the page that we have to work around. Now you've left us with almost nothing we can even do! Each of us is going to wind up with a picture of a sailboat, a lighthouse, and a rocky beach."

 

"So? I prefer when inked art is depicting sailboats, lighthouses, and rocky beaches."

 

"But we don't want to draw those things, the people who come to see our art don't want those things, and now we can't get a good grade because our art won't reflect our individuality."

 

"That's because you're working in ink. If you want to get good grades you'll have to work in pencil. I only want ink art of sailboats, lighthouses, and rocky beaches."

 

"If you want those so bad, then why don't you make that art for yourself and stop making things difficult for us ink-users?"

 

"It's quite simple," the teacher said. "I'm the one who gets to come in here before class and draw on the easels. That's why."

 

---

 

This is what's happening with the "rampant canonization", folks. Some of us in the community like being able to do whatever we please with our stories, artwork, and MOCs. Those who don't want to work with a bit of the established canon just ignore it. They erase and move forward with their pencils working away. But some of us, myself included, really like working with ink. We don't want to change what's on the paper already, what the established canon is. In fact, we like the technical aspect of working with what's already there. But now all these people pushing the additional canonization of facts are throwing more and more on the page. This doesn't affect the pencil-users because erasing things that don't fit their ideas is already their forte. But the pen-users now find themselves in an increasingly tightening bind. Those pre-drawn bits, the established canon, are no longer interesting pieces, they're restrictions. We're being told by the "canonizers" that we can make our art, MOCs, and fanfics just as easily; all we have to do is switch to pencil, ignore the canon. But if we want to keep working in our preferred medium, if we want to work with the canon, we're restricted to what they keep adding to the page. Why? Because they want all the ink pictures their way and we can't stop them from adding more lines and shapes before class.

I seriously considered posting this in its own topic in COT

TN

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The funny thing is, there's a quote right next to this entry that goes:

 

Dude, Tak... You're ruining my fanfiction...

 

*Snaps fingers*

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Except I wasn't adding something; I was informing him of what was there. :P
 
Besides, that was my love life on the line IIRC. Totally different.


Takuma Nuva

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I got halfway through before I realized where this was going, and I have to say, this was slick and absolutely hits the nail on the head, although I was disappointed this wasn't one of those inspiration stories about students who outwit the teacher or learn a valuable lesson or something :P

 

Something important that wasn't spelled out is that at first, "everybody had fun comparing art and seeing how each individual expressed themselves through their work." At the end, I know that even the pencil and students would be disappointed to see the same ruddy thing on half of their peers' pages.

 

The thing about writing in the confines of an open canon is the fact that someone reading it can appreciate that it could have happened, and the writer can enjoy freedom to use whatever unique elements they want. If someone had written a gorgeous fanfic about the battle between the Mangai and that Dragon, but didn't use the same elemental powers, masks, and weapons that are being canonized all of a sudden? Their writing loses its magic, its validity, its "that could've happened" charm and feeling of being real if the audience would accept it. You can choose to ignore canon, but you still know that it's "wrong" and that's just not the same.

 

It's also like the message in Toy Story 2: getting things canonized just 'cause you enjoying "knowing" but not even applying it to actual storytelling is the same as taking toys from kids and putting them in museums; looking and not touching. Playing is a lot more fun without rules, especially because nobody can tell you you're doing it wrong.

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I got halfway through before I realized where this was going, and I have to say, this was slick and absolutely hits the nail on the head, although I was disappointed this wasn't one of those inspiration stories about students who outwit the teacher or learn a valuable lesson or something :P

I was this close to ending it off with "The students then shoved the teacher in a closet and locked him away for the whole summer. And possibly longer."

Takuma Nuva

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Somebody line up the S&T crowd and show them this.

*appears*

 

You happy now? :P

 

Actually, the analogy is a bit flawed. Instead of a teacher drawing in shapes, picture 200 people walking in the art class door before class, drawing whatever shapes they want and collaborating on what they want in pen, and the pen users showing up and complaining that they didn't want those shapes drawn. 

 

Except, nearly all of those 200 people actually stay for the art class. I would be a pen user in your analogy, but I also would be in there before class collaborating on which shapes should be drawn beforehand. Anyone can walk in the door of the art class to draw the shapes, including the pen users!

 

*kicks analogy out the door* Good try - but I don't buy. 

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Somebody line up the S&T crowd and show them this.

*appears*

 

You happy now? :P

 

Actually, the analogy is a bit flawed. Instead of a teacher drawing in shapes, picture 200 people walking in the art class door before class, drawing whatever shapes they want and collaborating on what they want in pen, and the pen users showing up and complaining that they didn't want those shapes drawn. 

 

Except, nearly all of those 200 people actually stay for the art class. I would be a pen user in your analogy, but I also would be in there before class collaborating on which shapes should be drawn beforehand. Anyone can walk in the door of the art class to draw the shapes, including the pen users!

 

*kicks analogy out the door* Good try - but I don't buy.

 

So now the pen users still have to agree on something that has to be in everybody's artwork, further reducing individuality. Or they don't try to force their ideas on others by not participating and now they get screwed by teachers, pencil-users, and even other pen-users.

 

Great fix.

Takuma Nuva

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Somebody line up the S&T crowd and show them this.

*appears*

 

You happy now? :P

 

Actually, the analogy is a bit flawed. Instead of a teacher drawing in shapes, picture 200 people walking in the art class door before class, drawing whatever shapes they want and collaborating on what they want in pen, and the pen users showing up and complaining that they didn't want those shapes drawn. 

 

Except, nearly all of those 200 people actually stay for the art class. I would be a pen user in your analogy, but I also would be in there before class collaborating on which shapes should be drawn beforehand. Anyone can walk in the door of the art class to draw the shapes, including the pen users!

 

*kicks analogy out the door* Good try - but I don't buy.

 

They problem there is that there are now pen users who cant find enough empty space to draw what they want anywhere on this paper scribbled on by other students, not even the teacher, the person in charge. The teacher was also never a metaphor for exactly one person, they represent everyone involved in canonization, not just Greg. Also, "nearly all of those 200 people actually stay for the art class" implies that there are some who go in to scribble, and then leave.

 

I think that you missed the point of the shape thing, it's that originally they were broad strokes that the artists could make into anything, but then became way too defined too numerous, so that it was impossible to draw anything new. These scribbles stay on the pages forever, they are merely added to over time. It doesn't matter if you got there before everyone else, because everyone else is suffering repercussions to something they didn't even know was going on. No amount of shape drawing besides the very sparse and broad was enjoyed by the students - except the pencil ones, which were there to make the point that with a clean slate it is always more enjoyable and easier to work with. 

 

If you're gonna collectively decide to give everyone shapes to work with, make it equal, and draw them all with pencil regardless of what each artist is drawing with. Fanon. Or ideas that Greg just approves of but doesn't say are now the law of the land. Not permanent. 

 

Also, what makes you think that rushing into a classroom early to scribble a ton of shapes on everything, collectively or not, with any sort of medium, is gonna leave everyone or anyone satisfied? That sounds like an awful thing to do that's so rude :P

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